6 Important Questions to Ask a Potential Consultant
Whether you’re a seasoned professional, fresh out of school, or someone in need of reinvention, working with a Creative Consultant can give you that fresh set of eyes you’ve been looking for. A creative consultant works with you to discover your brand, develop an image for your business, create a mindful and manageable marketing strategy while helping you to identify the relevant markets for your photography or illustration business.
When it comes to finding the right consultant for you, feel a lot like dating so take the time to understand their energy, their communication style, and how that works with you and your goals. You must go into this relationship with a sense of what you’re looking for and what you the ideal outcome would be. But, don’t forget to leave a little room for the magic of chemistry.
Question 1: What is your specialty?
Every consultant has a past life. Some consultants were Artist Reps, Art Buyers, or Photo Editors; some even come from the stock world. Their experience can add a unique perspective to your business, one you may not have realized prior.
Will you benefit most from someone who understands how to talk to clients? Maybe the consultant you need has a knack for recognizing potential – something they may have done in their “past life” at a portfolio review. Are you looking for someone with a good sense of where the marketplace is going? To ensure you are working with the right consultant, you must make sure you understand their experience and be sure to ask how they use this knowledge to help their clients.
Question 2: What are your billing practices?
We all realize hiring a consultant isn’t cheap. To make a smart business decision, understand what you’re getting for your money. Some consultants are more expensive but are a little more flexible about billing than others. You might find that the cheaper consultants are on the clock when unexpected situations arise. There’s not a right or wrong way of billing, so be sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before signing that dotted line. Depending on your situation, it might be better to pay more upfront – or pay less initially and then go a la carte later depending on your needs.
Question 3: May I see your resume?
Most consultants will have a website promoting their business; this is a great place to start. First things first, look at their client list. Then, check out the links. See if you relate to any of their clients. Looking for more information? Take a peek at their social media and LinkedIn. Their professional communication tools can give you a good insight into how they think and what kind of information they see as important. Do they have a Pinterest account? What about Instagram? These consultants are creative – what sort of visual images are they projecting for their own business?
Question 4: Are you technologically up to date?
Times are changing. There are many new ways to get your work out there. In the past, clients would hire creative professionals out of a Sourcebook, or maybe from a direct mail card they received in the mail. What works today? And more importantly, what’s going to work for your business? Do you need to focus on the basics – or do you need a more tech-savvy consultant?
Question 5: How resourceful are you?
This business is anything but cookie-cutter. For a consultant, every client has a unique set of obstacles. Is the consultant you’re talking to creative about finding solutions? Is he or she comfortable working outside of a comfort zone? This is a hard thing to investigate, but when it comes to developing a marketing strategy or defining a relevant market, you want a consultant who’s a good problem-solver and can think on their toes.
Question 6: How do they react to your work?
This is more a question for you to ask yourself. In the end, you can only prepare so much. You’ve done your homework and asked all the right questions, and you understand what the consultant does well. Eventually, it comes down to your gut feeling. You might not be exactly where you want to be in your career – does this consultant understand your vision and where you want to go?
Take the time to talk about your work. Being a creative professional is difficult. The market is saturated and passionate work is really important. So, do you want a consultant who will tell you what you need to do to be successful or a consultant who can find the right marketplace for what you’re doing – or maybe for you, it’s both?
Good luck and happy hunting!