Why Hire a Consultant? Benefits, Drawbacks, and Tips for a Successful Hire
Every workplace is different. And while many businesses opt for a traditional structure based on employees, many startups, scaleups, and established firms are choosing a different option. That means bringing in consultants, freelancers, and other external expertise.
In fact, most businesses these days are using a blend of both in-house teams and outsourced talent. Even in 2018, 70% of small businesses had used freelancers, and 80% said they would again. Meanwhile, research from the Harvard Business School recently found that 90% of companies reckon a mix of in-house and freelance workers is the talent model of the future.
What’s best for your business? That’ll be down to you. But, in this article, we want to introduce you to the consultant. That’s the expert who can give your team the strategic advice, problem-solving nous, and skilled leadership that it might need, on a freelance basis.
So, why hire a consultant? Over 80% of UK businesses do it, and are satisfied with the results, according to one study. And for good reason.
Here, we’re looking at why you might want to consider it, too.
Why Hire a Consultant?
Most businesses are familiar with the management consultant, who’ll come in to restructure teams, suggest efficiencies, and highlight and solve problems.
Yet, they’re not the only types of consultants out there. Any freelance professional with specialist hands-on expertise — in any field — can offer consulting services. It could be in tech, comms, or in digital marketing, where a consultant will help you define your growth campaigns or digital strategy, or take leadership over a specific channel.
Great. But why hire a consultant? Here are some moments when you can benefit from bringing in an outsourced expert:
Reasons to hire a consultant:
- You’re a startup without the bandwidth and/or budget to build an in-house team. As a founder, you’ll have a lot on your plate. Recruitment and onboarding takes time, but a consultant will have the skills you need on arrival. And you’ll dodge the costs of pension contributions and other employee overheads in the short-term.
- You need leadership over a specific project, campaign, or marketing channel. If you want to build a Facebook Ad campaign from the ground up, or hone your email marketing, you can bring in a specialist digital marketing consultant who’ll take care of it — with no obligations at the end of that project. Dedicated leadership means you can make the most of even the smallest campaign.
- You need help identifying a business problem. It can happen that your return on marketing investment isn’t what you’d hoped — but you haven’t identified why. A consultant can help you assess what’s working and what isn’t, whether it’s your conversion rate or that you’re targeting the wrong keywords on PPC campaigns.
- You know the problem, but don’t want to divert employees to solve it. A typical case for a consultant. For example, your SEO isn’t up to scratch, but your internal team is occupied with other high-value channels. A consultant can take over — and they’ll often bring in their own contractors to handle the practicalities.
Choosing a Consultant over an Employee: The Benefits
There are many reasons why businesses are turning to consultants for expert advice and practical assistance. Here are six of those reasons:
- Greater flexibility. Employees tend to be permanent additions to your team. Consultants, meanwhile, can be hired for a specific project or contract. That means there’s less commitment if things go wrong, and you get the skills you need exactly when you need them.
- More specialist experience. Consultants tend to sell highly-specialised skills and services – from Google Ads and HubSpot to influencer marketing. This positions them as leaders in their field. When 74% of marketing leaders believe their departments lack the digital skills needed to excel, these channel specialists are key.
- Results straight out of the box. Employees require onboarding, training, and upskilling over time. When you hire a consultant, you’re looking for someone who can get started immediately — thereby speeding up your results.
- A new perspective. Workplaces can sometimes suffer from loyalties, prejudices, and habits that stifle creativity and impair decision-making. External consultants are free of this, and may be better placed to offer new ideas and make objective calls.
- Less admin and lower long-term cost. One of the main objections to hiring consultants is the cost. However, when you factor in employee benefits — including PAYE contributions and training costs — as well as overheads and payroll admin, in-house might be more demanding on your budget in the long run.
- You can focus on other things. Due to their experience and proven results, you don’t need to worry so much about managing consultants, as you might with employees. This frees up capacity for you to focus on other important tasks.
Of course, there are a couple of potential drawbacks to hiring a consultant. For example:
- Possible fragmentation. When all of your operations are outsourced, it’s a challenge to foster a sense of togetherness and collective culture. And as a leader, you need to make sure third-party specialists and employees work together smoothly.
- Less availability. Unlike in-house teams, consultants may be working with a range of other clients at the same time. That means you can’t necessarily rely on them every moment of the day.
- Less control. You’re hiring a consultant to get the job done. That might mean that you have less input over how it happens.
Tips to Ensure Your Consultant Hire is a Success
Consultants can bring a lot to your team — no matter what stage your business is at. But they’re not a silver bullet. Things can go wrong when you’re working with outsourced talent.
So, to finish, here are some tips for getting it right:
- First, use robust due diligence. Ensure that every outsourced expert you hire really does have the skills they claim. Ask for hard data from past campaigns and successes. And, if you can, get a second opinion on their quality and working style. This’ll make sure you keep any nasty surprises to a minimum.
Note: Traktion’s network of freelance talent is vetted using real-world results and performance data. When you use Traktion to find a specialist, you can be sure that you’re accessing some of the world’s best marketing professionals.
- Don’t hire on price alone. Yes, consultants can bring down costs, but don’t simply go for the cheapest option. Specialist skills are valuable. The best consultants are leaders in their fields, so penny-pinching won’t get you the results you want.
- Define the consultant’s role and limits. Why are you hiring a consultant? Do you need strategic input or action toward a specific deliverable? What hours do you expect and when do you want to see results? Being clear on expectations before you hire will keep the relationship smooth.
- Work to integrate your consultants with in-house staff. Highly engaged teams enjoy a 21% greater profitability, according to a Gallup study. While we tend to associate team culture with inhouse employees alone, it is crucial to make active steps to integrate your external consultants into your wider team.
How to do that? We’ve got all the advice you need in this blog post: How to Build a Strong Team Culture with Freelancers
- Remember consultants aren’t employees. Consultants tend to work autonomously to deliver results. This takes pressure off your shoulders, but you might be tempted to micromanage. Remember why you hired them — and trust them to do their job.
Conclusion: Finding the Right Marketing Consultant
Consultants will give you on-demand access to a specialised skill set, and this is highly valued by businesses who need to move quickly. The external viewpoints, strategic guidance, and tactical assistance provided by a consultant can make a big impact on your growth trajectory.
Before you hire, though, be clear on what results you need to see, and when. And make sure that your chosen consultant has the skills and experience they need to deliver.
Traktion will connect your business with a verified, pre-vetted, and proven freelancer. We use over 100 different metrics to find the perfect match, and you don’t pay anything for using our platform. Start hiring now.