Hiring the right content marketing consultant is a significant business decision. Ideally you want someone with whom you will enjoy a great working relationship, but you also want to make sure that the person has experience, vision and business knowledge.
Here are 9 questions to ask yourself when vetting your potential hire.
#1. How much content marketing experience do they have?
To be a consultant of anything, you need a set amount of experience. But with content marketing, the concept, the talent, and the technology are all new (even though the practice of telling stories to promote a business is not).
If you consider that veteran content marketers have been at it for about 10 to 12 years now, that means the majority of consultants have much, much less than that. It’s important to keep this in mind as you decide whether you will hire based on experience.
#2. Do they understand the basics of content marketing?
Even more important than experience (I think) is the understanding of what content marketing is. Most organizations are still confused by the term, so it is even more important that the consultant is able to educate authoritatively on this subject. For instance they should know the difference between content marketing and social media, or similar subjects such as inbound marketing, and digital marketing.
#3. Do they understand the business value of content marketing?
Your potential consultant should also understand that content marketing is business marketing. She should be able to connect the dots between the creation and distribution of relevant content with the achievement of tangible business goals such as customer acquisition and retention, increased sales, reduced marketing costs and even operational efficiencies.
#4. What type of content marketing campaigns have they initiated in the past?
You want to see what kind of content marketing projects your potential consultant has done in the past so that you can evaluate her effectiveness as a professional. Her portfolio is a good indicator of where her core strengths lie and whether her past experience is a good match for your organization’s needs.
#5. How much do they value measurement of content marketing strategy?
The old adage ‘what can’t be measured, can’t be managed’ rings true for content marketing as well. A consultant who neglects measurement tactics cannot be trusted to steer you in the right direction. Find out what methods she has employed in the past for measuring content marketing and watch out for ambiguous answers as these spell major weaknesses in her strategy.
#6. Does their personality match your needs?
People do business with those they know, like and trust. Spend some time getting to know your potential consultant and dig deeper by asking questions that reveal her personality. Ask her how she would handle specific situations. Remember that a consultant is responsible for guiding your business. Be sure that you choose someone you can trust, respect and generally feel comfortable with.
#7. Do you have a common connection or referral?
How did you connect with your potential hire? It’s a wise idea to choose someone who has been recommended by a friend or peer. This way you can find out more information from the one who referred her, and cross-check the information that she has given you about herself.
#8. Do they use content marketing themselves?
The seller has to believe in the product they are selling. So when choosing a content marketing consultant, be sure to check that she is practicing content marketing herself. Does she have a consistent blog, does she send out a regular newsletter, does she use social media, what kind of online communities does she belong to? Remember, consultants are business owners too and they should practice what they preach.
#9. What’s your gut feeling?
After all is said and done, what is your gut feeling about this person? Does she make you feel uncomfortable? Do you trust her? If something doesn’t feel right, your best bet is to ditch her and start over. Trust your intuition to guide your decision and try not to second-guess yourself.
Over to you: I feel like I’ve missed something. What other questions would you add to this list?