Growth Insights for CEOs

How to Hire the Right Marketing Consultant for Your Business

Posted by Pete Hayes

Different Kind of Hiring

Hiring a marketing consultant is not exactly like hiring an employee. Here’s why:

  • A consultant should bring value more quickly to your company
  • The problem you are trying to solve is likely finite, not on-going
  • You should expect a consultant’s fees to be disproportionate to a salary

So in a nutshell, you should be on the lookout for a firm with an individual who has the experience and track record to quickly add value, and expect this impact will come at a premium as compared to hiring an employee.

Evaluate for Relevance…

Having presented our CMOs to scores of companies for consideration, and having developed a rigorous process for hiring our own consultants, Chief Outsiders would suggest the following three dimensions in evaluating a consultant for your business:

1) Credibility – Does the consultant have a resume that will stand up to your board and other executives? If you’re going to pay top dollar to solve a critical problem, what assurance by way of credible, relevant experience can you count on?

2) Capability – The resume is only the starting point. The consultant’s resume may be full of business experience, but will this translate to a company of your size and your industry? Can the marketing consultant be both strategic and tactical? Can they get things done? Also, does the consultant have back-up? Are they part of an organization that can bring even greater value to your problem?

3) Chemistry – Are you excited to work with this person? Do you immediately get a sense of trusting the individual by the questions they ask, how they listen, what they say, how they challenge you? Will the consultant fit with your culture or even potentially challenge and improve your culture?

Your Challenges: Incremental or Fundamental?

band aids

As a CEO, you’re continuously evaluating the health of your organization. When things are not going (or growing) according to plan, you consider your options to make changes. Remember that fixes to symptoms may not address more systemic problems. As you contemplate the potential role for a business, marketing or strategic marketing consultant, it’s wise to remain open to the full scope of potential solutions.

Strategic Marketing Consultant vs. Part-time Executive

When your market challenges are very specific, calling on a problem-solver who can diagnose and suggest a solution should be considered. This might be equivalent to getting urgent care to an acute medical issue. In other cases, however, the organization may benefit from a longer-term approach to market health and growth. In our experience, companies that try to manage their marketing as a “sales support” activity, with the strategic chores falling on the CEO’s plate, struggle with scaling and maneuvering effectively as their markets mature or evolve. In such cases, the CEO may want to consider developing a more rigorous and lasting approach to market-driven opportunities. A full-time hire may be the right choice if an executive with the right experience and fit can be secured and budgeted. A part-time executive is an attractive alternative for CEOs who desire less risk and potentially greater impact while making this transition.

Final Thoughts

If you’d like to meet several marketing consultants all at one time, just drop into your local Starbucks, or search LinkedIn. You’ll find there are plenty available. Of course, the challenge is sifting through your alternatives – finding the right combination of experience, relevance and cultural fit – especially if you’re going to tackle the deeper challenges and opportunities of developing your market-driven operations.

Let me know if I can help.


Pete Hayes, Principal of Chief OutsidersPete Hayes is Principal & CMO for Chief Outsiders. Follow him at @petehayes or call him at 512-923-6512, or write  

Topics: Chief Marketing Officer, Hiring