Top 5 Reasons to Work with a Consultant

If you haven't noticed, I LOVE to talk about digital marketing: about using all of the amazing data that's available to us -- often, completely free of charge -- to make smarter decisions & maximize ROI. I will talk to just about anyone about it, or about the value of talking to people, rather than 'consumers', in every channel & with messaging that is relevant to their beliefs and values. 

And yet, one of the first questions I run into with brand new clients and smaller businesses essentially predicates any conversation about marketing or consumer behavior. What they want to know is: WHY should they work with an independent consultant?  

Well, friends, fret no more: here is my top 5 list of Reasons You Should Absolutely Work with a Consultant:

  1. You don't have to commit to more than you are ready for. With a consultant, you can limit the scope of work and the length of time that you work together. This can be hugely beneficial for many different reasons. Maybe your business is more seasonal, as in landscaping or swim suit sales, for example. With a contractor, you don't need to hire an employee year-round, but rather, can limit your engagement to the times of the year when you will see the most value from that investment. Alternatively, you may have a specific project with a set end date; or, you may be feeling unsure about allocating resources to marketing tactics when you aren't sure that they work. There are a million reasons that the option to work with a shorter-term consultant may benefit your situation far more greatly than hiring a full-time employee or entering into a longer-term agency agreement. The bottom line is: if you aren't sure of what you need to do next, consultants + independent contractors can be a great partner. 

  2. Consultants can make more time for you. Consultants tend to have more flexible schedules than the typical 9-to-5 employee. This means that they may also have more freedom to provide you with the exact service and attention that you need! Time management should always be a key consideration in your contract negotiations with a consultant, but in those conversations, you will likely see that the right consultant is willing to work with you to provide you with the flexibility you desire.

  3. It's the best way to maximize your Skill:Cost Ratio. Don't worry if you don't know what that phrase means; I just made it up today! Think of a skill-to-cost ratio as the amount of skill, talent or experience the contractor possesses as compared to the cost of doing business with them. Here's a good example: I spent 15 years at digital marketing agencies or in client-focused, agency-like roles and let me tell you, the rates I charge my clients at Insight beat the rates the agencies charged clients for my time by triple-digit margins. Really! In truth, I am far happier doing the work now -- at that far lower rate --for businesses like yours, that I can be emotionally invested in. As you carefully vet consultants for your business needs, look for the ones who bring the right experience to the table AND are willing to fully share their great experience with you.

  4. They are less of a financial burden to your business overall. Compare the investment you make in an independent consultant to the investment you would make in a full-time employee: to be at all competitive, you have to offer the employee a fixed salary or hourly rate, pay employer taxes, do more paperwork (I-9s, W2s, oh my!), pay far more in benefits, insure them, and pay for their work space and equipment. And that's just scratching the surface! Typically consultants don't require any of the above, and often require less training than a new employee, too. At least, they should, if you work with the right one… 

  5. You are generally not liable for consultants -- at least not to the same extent as employees. I am not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to read a bunch of stuff. And especially when I founded Insight, I read plenty about the legal responsibilities of employers. In sum, businesses are liable for misconduct by their own employees, but generally not for consultants...unless the consultant is doing work that is an "inherently dangerous activity." Consultants are going to carry more of that legal burden for themselves. Now, I will fully admit that I have no idea what qualifies as an "inherently dangerous activity" but I will tell you this: I think it's at least mildly safe to say that digital marketing lands on the safe side of that coin.

In the end, my best advice to you is this: always carefully consider the consultants with whom you choose to work. At the end of the day, it is always best to work with a true partner who is transparent, honest, experienced, and who you believe will keep your best interests at heart.