Once a company has achieved product-market fit, the primary challenge becomes one of growth: How can we get our products and services in front of more people?
Hiring a business growth consultant can rapidly accelerate momentum, putting brands years ahead of where they would otherwise be. An experienced consultant can analyze your target market and tell you which traffic generation strategies, marketing tactics, and brand positioning will yield the best results.
Unfortunately, the most effective consultants charge a hefty sum for their services. Conversely, those with less experience are cheaper, but can't guarantee results with the same level of confidence.
With that said, is it always within a company's best interest to hire a growth hacker?
5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring A Business Growth Consultant
In this article, we'll review six factors worth considering before hiring someone to "make it rain." We'll also provide some recommendations on how companies with a willingness to roll up their sleeves can achieve similar results via DIY tactics.
1. Do you have the right talent in place?
The best consultants don't just implement a strategy, generate some metrics and peace out. They teach your team how to replicate those results long after they are gone. In other words, you shouldn't just hire someone for what they can do; you should hire them for what they can teach you.
Without the right talent in place, it's unlikely you will be able to take advantage of the education a business growth consultant can provide. This brings up another important consideration: Do you have all of the team members needed to fulfill the consultant's instructions?
More often than not, your growth advisor won't provide all of the talents you need to implement their recommendations.
For example, executing a successful inbound marketing plan typically requires skills in several disciplines including SEO, copywriting, graphic design and web development. If you don't already have these roles covered, expect to spend additional funds on contract workers to get the job done.
2. Do you have the right company culture?
Though this question may seem irrelevant when hiring a consultant, it's extremely important. At Lean Labs, we've experienced situations where company employees erroneously felt threatened by us. Instead of viewing our agency as a temporary extension of their team, they saw us as "their competition."
"Many times, people wonder what a consultant will mean for them, specifically. Are you trying out a new employee to replace an existing employee? Do you need the consultant because the team is doing a bad job? Are you considering replacing full-time employees with consultants? Address those fears head-on, and show the team how the consultant will actually benefit them and help them all achieve their goals.”
Unfortunately, team members who hadn't been adequately prepared were overly sensitive to constructive criticism, slow to implement suggestions and disinterested in collaboration. At Lean Labs, our goal is never to replace in-house marketing roles; it's to turbocharge the efforts of existing teams with proven growth-oriented strategies. If we do our job well, two things happen:
1.The company 10x its traffic, leads and opportunities.
2. We become unnecessary to its future success.
In fact, some Lean Labs clients have felt so confident in the skills they gained through our partnership that they prematurely "fired us" Talk about a bitter-sweet situation! With that said, achieving such results is impossible in the absence of a company culture that readily embraces outside collaboration.
You can prepare your team for the business growth consultancy process by involving them early-on. Articulate the exact role the consultant will play, how it will affect each team member’s job and your desire to receive continuous feedback from everyone throughout the partnership.
3. Do you have a realistic goal for the consultant?
It's not unusual for companies to hire consultants without clear goals in mind. They hear the person speak, feel inspired, and think something like: Wow, this person is the Justin Timberlake of marketing - they can do it all!
Surely, they can help us grow faster.
Several thousands of dollars later, they find themselves wondering what went wrong. How could they have spent so much money, yet be so uncertain of what they have received in return? The reason for the fuzzy ROI is simple: In the absence of mutually agreeing upon Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at the beginning of the partnership, neither party knew what they are working toward.
“We find there is a direct correlation between the depth of a founder’s knowledge of the company’s KPIs and the company’s success," says Tech Crunch contributor and investor Phil Nadel. "First, founders must demonstrate they understand which metrics are important to their business. Second, they must demonstrate they are properly measuring and calculating those metrics. Finally, they must know which levers to pull to affect each KPI and which KPIs need to be tweaked for the business to succeed.”
The growth metrics you choose to measure will depend on your unique goals, priorities and business model. We recommend selecting KPIs that are realistic, measurable and specific to what will make the biggest impact on the growth of your business.
Here are some of the most commonly tracked growth metrics:
- Organic traffic growth
- Social media traffic
- Traffic-to-lead ratio
- Cost per lead
- MQL to SQL ratio
- Inbound marketing revenue growth
- Inbound ROI
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Before hiring a consultant, make sure you set clear parameters for measuring the effectiveness of your efforts. Doing this will make it much easier to both amp up what's working and correct what isn't.
4. Does the consultant have proven experience?
The internet has created a world of copycats, and business growth consulting is no different. Before partnering someone, due diligence is warranted. Don't be shy about asking for references from current clients, asking about ROI and evaluating portfolios. This brings up a difficult question: How much experience is enough to guarantee results?
Unfortunately, there are no absolutes when it comes to sales and marketing. However, someone who knows what they are doing will be able to confidently express their expectations for your business. As with any field, the more projects someone gets behind them, the better they become at replicating successful results. As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for."
With that said, don't completely discount someone with tons of knowledge, but less experience. It is possible to find a diamond in the rough at a reasonable rate. If you are considering going with a less experienced consultant, ask them to explain exactly how they plan to accomplish your goals up front. In some instances, the person may be open to some sort of contingency agreement.
5. Are there more cost-effective ways to level-up your team?
Remember what we said at the beginning: The best business growth consultants instill their knowledge in your employees so they can replicate the results indefinitely. If you have a capable team in place, and don't need any help beyond marketing, there is a less frequently discussed option: Continued education.
Short of hiring a consultant whose sole job is to train your staff, a solid training program is the fastest and easiest way to consistently level up growth. So, where do you get this training outside of signing everyone up for your local university's digital marketing program (which probably isn't up-to-date, anyway)?
DigitalMarketer is an online learning platform (DigitalMarketer HQ) designed for businesses seeking to master the best practices, strategies, and methods used in digital marketing today. Founded by Ryan Deiss and Russ Henneberry, the program shares the exact tactics used to launch and grow Salesforce.com's company blog from zero to 120,000 unique visitors per month in less than a year.
Russ has conducted more than 600 digital marketing projects for small to mid-sized businesses through content marketing, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click campaigns. This is why we insist upon our own employees taking the digital marketing courses—they teach actionable strategies that work.
The course focuses on eight digital marketing disciplines:
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Search Marketing
- Conversion Funnels & Value Optimization
- Social & Community Management
- Paid Traffic & Customer Acquisition
- Marketing Analytics & Data Science
- Testing & Conversion Science
What Is Your Next Best Step?
Whether you hire a business growth consultant or not, your goal should be the same: Turning your team members into "specialized generalists" who understand how to maximize their individual roles within the overall inbound marketing process.
Ultimately, everyone relies on information from everyone else to do their job well. This is why we recommend cross-training between departments whenever possible. With The Digital Marketing Mastery Intensive, your entire team can be certified in eight core disciplines of digital marketing in 12 weeks.
Why are we recommending it? Because we know not everyone is ready to hire a consultant or an agency like Lean Labs. And this program has worked really well for us!
Here is a free guide for those who want to learn more about the program.