There are a number of reasons why you might be reading this article.

Maybe you have a small marketing team and just lost a key employee. You know, that super bright 20-something who double-majored in Marketing and Communications, knows about SEO and email marketing, writes all your blog posts, and might even be certified in inbound marketing?

Or maybe you had to fire an inept marketer for not doing what needed to get done. You’re looking to replace this employee with a new hire, and you’re struggling to find someone you can trust to generate more website traffic, more leads and more customers from your marketing activities.

Or perhaps you’re a HubSpot customer who isn’t maximizing your HubSpot account. You know you’re not moving fast enough. You’re paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month for the world’s best inbound software, but you’re not seeing a steady increase in website traffic, in qualified leads, or in customers. You hear about other companies who are crushing it, but you’re not sure how to proceed.

Or maybe you’re just interested in generating more revenue from your current marketing activities. You’re not seeing a clear return on your investment. You have competitors who are showing up higher in search engine results, and they are more active on social media and content creation. You’re looking for someone to help catch you up to speed and to tie your marketing efforts directly to an increase in revenue.

At the end of the day, you’re reading this article because you’re looking to hire a marketer to help grow your company.

Here are some thoughts and question prompts to help you get in the right state of mind:

What you need to know about hiring an inbound marketing consultant

  • You need to understand the concept of a lead and how it relates to your business. What are you currently doing to increase your database of prospects and contacts? Do you participate in live events, like trade shows or corporate breakfasts? Do you have people filling out the forms on your website? Do you immediately reach out to those folks over the phone? Are they qualified? What aspects of lead generation are currently working for you, and where would you like to step on the gas?
  • You should have clear goals. What are your revenue goals in 2014? When it comes to your marketing and sales numbers, what needs to get done now versus what kind of longer term growth would you like to see? What are the big-ticket items in the next couple of month? Maybe you’re going through a website redesign, or you’re preparing for a big product or service launch and need to construct an effective marketing campaign around it.
  • You need to understand how critical content marketing is. Content is the lifeblood of a successful inbound marketing campaign. When your content is optimized, you attract more qualified traffic to your website from search engines. And when you offer compelling content to your prospects, you’re out-educating your competitors. You build trust and establish authenticity. A successful inbound marketer will help you create and position content do your different buyer personas, who much be at different stages of their buying process with you.
  • You don’t have to hire a full-time employee. Maybe you feel that having one dedicated person come into the office each day is the best chance you have at training and managing an effective inbound marketer. I get it. There’s something to be said for an in-person meeting. Maybe you’ve been burned in the past by an SEO specialist, marketing consultant or marketing agency and you need someone to show up day-in and day-out. That’s fine, but you should know that each day, thousands of marketing agencies around the world – including this one – are helping small businesses for less than the cost of a full-time marketing employee. You could get access to years of experience and a full team, not to mention clear, demonstrable results, at sometimes a half or a third of the price as a full-time marketing hire.
  • You need at least a few hours a week to manage and help your new hire. Even if you’re outsourcing your inbound marketing strategy and execution to an outside agency, you or someone on your team needs to be available to help guide the strategy. The inbound marketing consultant will need a primary point-of-contact to run content by, to understand how to best align marketing and sales efforts and to regularly report results to the company.

What your prospective inbound marketing consultant needs to have

  • A holistic understanding of inbound marketing. You’re not just looking for an SEO specialist. You’re looking for someone who understands all aspects of a successful inbound marketing campaign. Yes, keyword research and on-page search engine optimization are a part of that. But you need more. You need someone who understands social media, who can write blog posts and spin up landing pages and build forms and create awesome follow-up email campaigns to engage your contact database. You need someone who gets the big picture and can help build you a customized marketing and sales funnel.
  • Some technical knowledge. I feel strongly about this. You don’t need to hire a front- or back-end coding whiz, but your inbound consultant should have some kind experience in analytical or technical work. Inbound marketing is all about the numbers, pinpointing ROI and figuring out where to most effectively invest one’s time and money. Inbound can also involve technical set-up or integrations, so you need someone who is comfortable wrapping their head around seemingly tricky problems.
  • Flexible pricing. This only really applies if you’re looking for an agency. You should never ask for (or receive, for that matter) an hourly quote from a freelance inbound marketing consultant or inbound agency. A true inbound practitioner ties their activities and expenses directly to the value they bring to the table, which should be your increased company revenue. When you’re requesting a quote from a consultant or an agency, be clear about your budget. A proper inbound proposal will offer different levels of investment to show you what stepping on the gas looks like for your company.
  • Case studies they can chat about. You want an inbound marketer who can talk about specific campaigns they’ve run, specific industries they’ve worked in and specific challenges they’ve overcome or milestones they’ve hit. When in discussion with an individual inbound consultant or a larger agency, make sure they understand where you’re coming from and can wax philosophical on similar types of work they’ve done in the past.
  • Strong principles and a clear focus. Your inbound marketing consultant or inbound agency needs to have a clear understanding of their company principles; why they exist, how they do what they do, what methodology they follow, and who they work with and do not work with.