Running a startup is not easy. You have a lot on your plate, you don’t know how to get more customers in your database, you don’t have enough employees… But one thing you need for sure when starting: you need marketing. After all, if your target audience has never heard of you, it’s not as easy to sell your product or service. But what does a startup or SaaS marketing consultant do? How will they help your business?
Find out in the next section.
1- What Does a Startup Marketing Consultant Do?
This job is composed of a few tasks that we’ll go through in this section. Even though the job of an expert is similar when it comes to in-house marketing teams, new companies have specific requirements for these professionals.
These are the usual tasks, so let’s dive in.
1.1 Make sure your marketing materials are up to date
You cannot use the same marketing materials forever. As this is the case with all companies, when it comes to startups, it is even more important. Startups are constantly reiterating their processes . So, their marketing materials don’t age well.
Therefore, keeping your materials up to date is one of the most important tasks.
Other than that, it’s essential to assess the efficiency of these materials. Do they generate conversions? Do they reflect your company’s values and the problem that your solution solves?
Once you notice that your content is not on par with how you envisage your business, it’s time to change. This is what your marketing expert do: evaluate your marketing materials and make sure they stay relevant.
1.3 Engage prospects
Engaging prospects is essential in order to keep them on track – i.e. on their way to become clients. At the same time, you need to engage current customers to make sure they stay loyal to your brand.
Of course, your startup marketing advisor is not alone in providing this experience to your prospects and customers – customer support has a huge role in this. But, it is up to him to define the ideal response to common interactions.
When it comes to startups, it’s not always possible to hit the ground running. There’s a need to refine and enable certain processes until all is perfectly tuned. A consultant is a crucial element in engaging prospects, making sure they become – and remain – loyal to your brand.
1.4 Keep your customers returning
As a new business, you don’t have a lot of clients in the beginning. Therefore, you need to upsell and upgrade their accounts in order to make sure you get the most out of each client, maximizing revenue.
1.5 Develop a strategy for all your channels
All your channels need to have cohesive communication. However, there should be a defined strategy for each channel. Social media and email marketing are quite different when it comes to your customers and prospects’ expectations. These two are simply examples; each medium has its own requirements and, sometimes, a slightly different tone of voice.
To make sure your clients are not led astray, there needs to be a thorough communication plan that sets the strategies for each medium.
Your consultant should be able to draw the plan for every channel, and iterate it as time goes by. After all, your game plan needs to evolve as your business grows.
2- Factors to look into when choosing a freelancer
When it comes to choosing the right professional for this job, there’s a lot of factors you should take into account. In this section, we’ll give you a few tips about how to choose your freelancer.
2.1 Know whether you want a strategic expert or a functional specialist
This is highly important when drawing the ideal profile for your expert. Both of these are useful, but what is the difference?
A strategic expert will take a look at your strategy, fill in the gaps or re-do it fully. When it comes to company-wide change, this expert will know what you need to change in the mindset of your structure and provide the steps for further changes. Strategic experts are usually CEOs, managers and strategists. Their goal is to discover your mission (or create it) and show what you need to do to fulfill that mission.
Functional specialists, on the other hand, are hands-on in their tasks. They are usually CPAs, quality system experts, human resources specialists… and so on. This kind of specialist focus on the practical side of strategy, implementing practices and rules from the ground up.
Whether you need a strategic expert or a functional specialist will depend on your business needs and status. You’re missing a fully-developed strategy for your business? Get a strategic expert. You have a plan, but you don’t know how to implement it fully? Get a functional specialist. Of course, it’s never that simple. Keep on reading to find out more.
2.2 Choose top-line focus or bottom-line focus
When it comes to bottom-line focus, these startup marketing consultants will manage bottom-line costs and operations. This means reducing expenses, making your processes more efficient, saving time on operations, increasing service quality and so on. When it comes to a startup, this can make or break your business when these guidelines are not defined.
Bottom-line focus helps companies manage their costs with production and make sure your product is in constant development and iteration.
Now, when it comes to marketing experts that focus on growth, these are top-line focused experts. This involves improving your market strategy and goals, developing new products, defining positioning, sales and CRM software.
Therefore, top-line focus is more communication-oriented, whereas bottom-line focus is operationally inclined.
2.3 Make sure that consulting is their primary service
When it comes to consulting, there is no room for generalists. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but we recommend going for a freelancer that is specialized in what he/she does.
This means that when looking for a freelancer or a new employee for your marketing role, you need to make sure that consulting is their focus and nothing else. They might even offer other services, but marketing consulting needs to be at the core of their offer.
The reason behind this is simple. Whereas a consultant look at your website and tell you what you could improve, a marketing agency will most likely offer a whole site rebuild, simply because they want to push their other services on you.
If you have an expert that focuses on consulting, you’ll get services that match your needs – nothing less, nothing more.
3 – Hiring a consultant
We explored the ideal profile of your consultant in the previous section. However, we have other tips when it comes to interviews and the hiring process. Read on to figure these out.
3.1 Check their client portfolio
You want to hire someone that has experience insayi your area, especially if your product or service fits a quite limited niche.
Ideally, this person would’ve worked with a firm like yours, but when that is not possible or easy to find, look for professionals that are experienced in several different areas. This shows the ability to research in order to do a better job.
Someone who has research abilities will, given that all factors are the same, perform better than someone who either hasn’t got a lot of experience, or that only worked in areas that are quite different from yours.
3.2 Check them out on LinkedIn
The reason behind this advice is simple: if your candidate for the job hasn’t got an optimized profile on LinkedIn, it’s difficult to believe they will be better for your business than they are for themselves.
In order to fully perform a marketing audit, create a plan and implementing it, you need to be able to do that for your own business. How can someone promise results if they don’t show them where it counts?
So, take a look at your candidate profile on LinkedIn, and analyse it thoroughly. This will help you understand further if this person is right for the job or not.
3.3 Make sure they are proficient in digital marketing
This might come as a surprise, but not all marketers are experts in digital marketing. Even though digital marketing is the most common form of advertising these days, many marketers are stuck on billboard design, magazine ads and similar offline channels.
Nothing wrong with that, if that’s where your target audience is. But we can assure you that almost everyone is online, and digital marketing delivers better results consistently in comparison to offline media.
So, when checking their portfolio, look for examples of online media – Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO, email marketing… If these show frequently on your candidate portfolio, there’s a chance that you’ve struck gold. Of course, during the interview process, you should ask questions related to digital marketing in order to gauge your candidate’s response. If they have examples on their portfolio but are vague when probed, maybe you should be careful.
3.4 If they offer a free gig… say yes
If your candidate is confident enough to offer you a free gig, go for it. That usually means they trust their abilities well and will likely provide high quality work.
Of course, if your candidate does not offer a free gig by themselves, we recommend not asking for one. When the professional himself wants to offer a “sample” of their work, it’s okay and it should be commended. However, it doesn’t look as good to ask for free work.
3.5 Check out their website
Once again, your candidate’s website is a reflection of how they handle their business and how they will behave once hired.
If the it does not seem optimized for SEO, has an old-fashioned design, is not up to date – or all of these – that’s a glaring red flag when it comes to that professional.
Much like our social media represents the way we want to be seen, our website shows our true colors. If the candidate’s web page is unkempt, it’s unlikely they’ll take better care of your own website.
4 – Why you should choose a consultant rather than an agency
First of all, an agency does not always have the availability to take your product as their own. Agencies have a lot of clients they work with at the same time, which might diminish your results.
A consultant will make sure they understand your solution better. Agencies tend to waffle a bit trying to get you to sign up for as many services as possible.
This professional also draw a profile of your ideal buyer and your target audience as a whole. This is extremely important, also because this show you which marketing activities you should spend your time on.
Sometimes, we think that because some channel is “easier” for us, it is therefore the right channel to invest in. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your expert will show you exactly what you need to do.
In this article, we showed you how to find the right marketing consultant for your business and how to evaluate candidates.
We know that it’s not easy to hire a person to do all our marketing planning: a lot can go wrong if you make the wrong choice. We provided you with a few tips that will prevent the most common pitfalls.
If you’d like to learn more about how we help startup companies grow their revenue through SEO and PPC, contact us online or send us an email today at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with someone on our team.