As a business owner you are focused on running your businesses, and those things that fall outside your core strengths are handled by employees, vendors, contractors, and consultants. The job of an
Some businesses have been burned by bad consultants. This is not news, but it reinforces the point that in a nascent industry like
To help you separate the bad
# 1. No plan
If your consultant immediately starts working without a plan, this is a bad sign. It may mean the consultant performs robotic tasks for every client without understanding the client’s needs. Make sure your consultant has a plan and reviews it with you, along with the expected result and timeline.
# 2. No metrics
What gets measured gets improved. If your consultant doesn’t have a handle on the basic metrics they will be using, how will you assess his performance? Insist that the consultant understand — at least at the basic level — your key metrics (traffic, conversion, bounce rate, ROI) and hold him accountable to improving these key metrics.
# 3. Doesn’t ask about your goals
As a consultant, it is our job to listen more than we talk. After that, we ask questions. Only through listening and asking questions do we have an understanding of what the client wants, then we talk.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure the consultant has an understanding of what you want. If we don’t ask the client what the goal is, then we are short-changing the client. If the client does not make his goals clear, he runs the risk of not getting the full value of the consultant. Before engaging an
# 4. Doesn’t understand your business
This goes hand in hand with asking questions. Does he understand what you are in the business of doing? Does he care? Give the
# 5. No projections
This goes hand in hand with metrics. The point of a client making an investment is to get a return on the investment. If the return is not greater than the original investment, what’s the point?
The consultant can help by putting together projections to help all parties understand the expectation and the bottom line. As a business owner, ask about projections, but understand that no consultant is a fortune teller.
# 6. Opaque about process
As you can tell, I am bullish on setting expectations and communication. The client needs to know what the process is, even if she doesn’t understand it. As a client it is your responsibility to make sure you understand what is going on, and if you don’t, ask questions until you do.
If your consultant does not have a process and/or doesn’t explain it, watch out! Ask the consultant to go over his process step by step and how it plays into the overall plan.
# 7. Talks about “Tricking Google”
This one really gets me going. Yes, there are loopholes to getting ranking, but Google has thousands of really smart engineers working on closing these loopholes. As evidenced by the Panda and Penguin updates, the people who used “tricks” to get rankings will eventually be found and lose their rankings.
# 8. Spams website links EVERYWHERE
The other day I was talking to a client about why he wasn’t ranking in Google for his niche. I took a look at his backlinks and noticed there were thousands of low quality links to his site. The days of submitting sites and articles to as many directories as possible are over. Concentrate on high quality relevant links.
As part of the planning process, make sure your consultant focuses on highly relevant links as part of the strategy and NOT mass article and directory submissions.
# 9. Makes no mention of content
High quality content should be the cornerstone of any
# 10. Doesn’t talk about your customers
A business exists to serve a customer’s needs and make money. Customers should be at the cornerstone of any conversations you have with your
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