B2B product companies engage external marketing resources at 2X the rate of other sectors. And they look to these marketing experts to not only fill the gaps but also be a seamless part of their team.
Effective and trustworthy contractors and marketing agencies are important and valuable assets for any marketing executive.
They allow for quickly expanding and reducing marketing capabilities as well as providing access to high-level and unique talent on a short-term and relatively cost-effective basis.
So what makes a great marketing consultant?
Since launching Aventi Group in 2008, we’ve worked with over 200 marketing contractors and have found a clear set of characteristics that set apart the best from the rest.
In this Part I of II, we do a deep dive on these three points:
The most effective contractors are focused on the project objective or outcome and not on the number of hours they work.
Instead, their approach to a project is very much about efficiency:
- They come with a game plan and hit the ground running.
- They outline how much time they expect the work to take and what they need from the client to be successful.
- They give guidance to the client upfront as to what might cause the project to go longer or finish sooner.
- They ask questions right away if they get stuck, rather than spin their wheels.
Contractors with this sort of approach differentiate themselves by getting more work done in the same amount of time compared to their peers.
Tip for contractors: Keep the client’s budget top of mind, too, and act as if you were spending your own money. Value your own time and match the client’s sense of urgency to get a deliverable completed.
Contractors who present themselves as a specialist in one or two areas of marketing make it much easier for companies to place them on a project, and also for a client to understand the value they provide.
For example, we have contractors who position themselves as social media experts, marketing communications managers, or marketing campaign specialists. Though they could in fact be an expert in all three (and more), selecting one is key.
Many contractors are hesitant to do this because they feel they are limiting their opportunities or that an agency or client will think they do not have skills in other areas. In fact, our experience is often the opposite. It helps us to place talent into projects where contractors are very likely to be successful when they come to us with a specific expertise.
In addition, contractors can make themselves more sought after by investing in ways to stay current and deepen their expertise. Examples include writing blogs and articles for publication, taking courses, teaching courses, or acquiring new credentials and certifications.
Tip for contractors: Even if you have a huge range of specialties, pick one as your “lead” and build your personal messaging around that expertise. Then, expand into new areas with clients or on projects where you have already built a reputation based on your lead skill.
Building on the point above, companies hire contractors to fill a specific need and to bring focus to a priority project.
The most effective contractors are aware of this; they know they are hired guns, and they keep themselves very focused on the work they were hired to complete.
A big challenge for any contractor is learning how to say no when they are asked by a client to help with work that is outside of their defined scope.
It is critical for contractors to always remember who is paying for their work. If a request comes from someone other than that person (for example, someone in the client company that is on another team), a contractor’s response has to be “Please talk to ____, my contract is with them.”
This may seem obvious, but we run into this challenge all the time, especially in projects that are going well and where the contractor is getting a reputation across a company for doing good work.
It can be awkward to say no to a request, but it can also turn into an opportunity. Clients will always appreciate contractors staying on task.
Tip for contractors: If you bring these sorts of requests to the paying client first, they will often be a supporter and help you to get a new or expanded contract that funds this additional work without impacting your existing project.
- Responsiveness: fast response to emails and phone calls, availability for meetings.
- Timeliness: on-time for meetings, create status reports, invoice as agreed upon.
- Attention to detail: catch and fix typos and errors before sending work (even drafts) to client for reviews.
- Preparedness: research the client’s business, learn the apps and tools that the client uses, use correct product names, acronyms, etc.
These are some of the characteristics that make a top marketing contractor. They’re what we look for when we hire contractors at Aventi Group, and what our clients have come to depend on. Stay tuned for Part II of this series.