By Michele Linn published July 15, 2011 Est Read Time: 5 min

How to Hire the Right Consultant for Content Marketing

Looking for help with content marketing? Our CMI contributors are here to help! Over the last three weeks, they have answered these questions:

Today, our contributors weigh in on what you should look for when hiring a consultant for content marketing (i.e. how do you  know you’re hiring the right consultant)?

In a nutshell, your content agency must have a raft of major case studies with good metrics to demonstrate they know what they’re doing. The cases should be heavily digital, showing mastery of social media and multi-platform publishing. Most critically, the people must be proven content professionals and veteran storytellers with years of experience—journalists from big magazines and newspapers, animators, screenwriters, authors and so on. I posted a piece about this recently; it makes sense to read the whole thing.- Kirk Cheyfitz (@KirkCheyfitz)


When hiring a content marketing consultant, the key is to find someone you trust. That trust can come from having a connection or referral, shared interests, or even a gut feeling. Experience is important, but it is not the only major factor in a successful relationship. If the proposal looks good be curious, and ask interesting or offbeat questions about the project, their company, their work, and their interests. You learn a lot about someone when you veer away from the expected script. Then make sure to listen. You will know the right answers when you hear them.- Manya Chylinski


In many ways,  finding the right content marketing consultant can be much more challenging than finding the right content marketing agency.  While the best shops blend the strengths of each, here are a few key factors to look for in your search.Dig deep and ask questions to find out which pieces of the content marketing puzzle they were involved with and which ones were implemented in-house or by another shop. Make sure those answers match both your needs, and just as importantly,  match what the references say they did and that they aren’t taking too much credit for their contribution.If you were forming the content marketing dream team which role or roles would your consultant or consultants play – Strategist, Editor, Writer, Optimizer, Distributor, Data Analyst? It’s unlikely one person can wear all these hats. So make sure you are bringing on the right expertise for what you need.

Two additional key factors to look for:  Make sure to ask about how they build expertise in industries they may not yet be familiar with, and make sure they are using content marketing themselves.

– Will Davis (@willdavis)


Similar to agency requirements, look for three things:

  • Track record with tangible results,
  • Specialty in your industry when relevant,
  • The demonstrated ability to tell you the truth not necessarily what you want to hear.

Also, make sure they are not simply spouting the latest buzz words, like “social marketing” without a strong and concise reason based on ROI for when to use such tactics.  Make sure you have a good, focused top-level analytics report in place with which to gauge their results.

– Scott Frangos (@webfadds)


Chemistry is hugely important. But track record and tangible evidence of success is critical, too.Then choose a first project that lets them put their best foot forward. If it doesn’t impress, move on. Content marketing is way too important to settle for ‘good enough.’- Doug Kessler (@dougkessler)


I’m a terrible golfer mostly because I only play once or twice each year.  I like golf. I know the rules of golf and often watch it on Sunday afternoons. Let’s say I went online and ordered an annual subscription to Golf Digest and read it feverishly every day for a year. I studied each article to learn how the pros put different spin on the ball, learned what clubs to use in sticky situations and maybe even became friends with a few big name caddies.  But, I still only went out golfing once or twice a year at best…If I were matched up against Tiger Woods (OK, Tiger Woods from a few years ago), would I have a chance of playing 18 holes at his level?The answer to this question lives in the scenario above. There are lots of consultants who attend conference sessions, read every book that’s printed, all the magazines and blogs like this one. But if you drill into the online presence for most of those same consultants, they don’t diligently practice the trade and skills they are selling.  Content marketing is a sport that is learned through practice, persistence and experimentation. When you are hiring a consultant, make sure to check if they are actually practicing what they are selling to you.

  • Do they write a consistent blog where the audience participates through comments?
  • Do they actively use social networks?
  • Who else do they hang out with? Do they run in the circles where the new trends and information radiate from?
  • What results have their own content marketing efforts produced for them?  Remember that consultants are businesses too.

– Nate Riggs (@nateriggs)

Summary

Finding the right consultant is very similar to finding the right agency:

  • What role do they play in content marketing?
  • Do they have a track record of success? Do they have case studies and references?
  • Do they specialize in your industry?
  • Are they using content marketing themselves?
  • Do you have the right chemistry?
  • Do you trust them?
  • What kind of metrics do they use to measure success?

Is there anything you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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