Business Leader's Guide:"What Am I Paying For?" Part 1- Content Marketing Consultation


What are you paying for? Anytime you hire a professional or agency outside of your industry, it can be difficult to understand exactly what you're getting for the price.

You're probably wondering: How do I know if I'm getting a good value? What ROI can I expect on my content marketing strategy? Is my content strategist making $1000/hr because I don't know anything about what they do? Is she worth it?

Probably not.

It's particularly difficult in digital content marketing, because the profession is growing and evolving so quickly because content marketing works.

I know content marketing from dwelling on the edge of the latest trends and applying them for the last several years.

But I'm a business leader first, having spent 10 years in corporate management and running a successful business. I'm here to demystify what a content marketing strategy typically involves to help you with your decision. Strategies can vary, but this will give you a good idea of what to expect.

From Content Marketing Consultation to SEO Content Writing to Social Media Management to Analytics, we'll cover it all in this series. Whether you just need to buy a blog or implement a full-blown content marketing strategy, we'll have the answers here.

Let's begin at the beginning with consultations.

That was a joke. You'll find out why.

Content Marketing Consultants & Consultations

A consultation is normally paid by the hour. and there are several kinds your content marketing consultant will likely offer although you may see 100 names for them. To cut through the ambiguity, each consult has it's very own unambiguous AKA title or 2.

The Pre-consult

Duration: 15-30 minutes

AKA: The "What can you do for me" consultation &

the "Get a free consultation" consultation.

Cost: Usually free, no strings attached

Where: Chat, Phone, Skype or In-person (depending on location)

This is a quick discussion with your strategist/consultant about what they can do to help you. You have an opportunity to share your goals and challenges. The strategist listens and responds with general strategy responses.

Don't expect your strategist to lay out a complete strategy here or even to know a great deal about your company, although they should have done some homework. Designing and implementing strategy is what you are paying for. It will take serious research and time to go into great detail and they could not afford to do it for free unless you're a repeat client perhaps.

Consider this an interview. You may decide to walk away if your strategist doesn't seem competent for the job. You don't have to feel bad. They said it was free, right? That should mean no obligations.

The Strategic Consultation

Duration: 1 + hours, depending on size of your company/strategy

AKA: The "So what are we going to do" consultation

Cost: $75-300/hr ( Could be included in a retainer payment per your contract)

Before you freak out, wondering why you'd pay anyone $300/hr, I should share that significant planning, analysis and pre-work goes into the Strategic Consultation. You may be sitting with your strategist for an hour, but they have spent 5-20 hours, preparing for that meeting, so that they could quickly lay out what they're going to do for you.

They took what you told them in the pre-consult and any additional documents that you provided and reviewed them thoroughly, to evaluate:

  • strengths and weaknesses

  • objectives

  • competition

  • what needs to be done

  • what will be done and when

  • how they will do it

  • how much it will cost you

Ongoing Consults

Duration: 30 min +

Frequency: Weekly to Monthly

AKA: The "This is How we're doing" Consultation &

The "We're going to change A,B, C in our strategy" Consultation

Cost: $75-300 (could be included in a retainer)

All strategies need ongoing reliable measures and adjustments. If your strategist is not sharing changes, that's a red flag. If your strategist isn't making any changes, that's a red parachute, as in it's time to bail out.

You need to know that your strategist has their finger on pulse of your strategy and can adapt. Every industry and business is different.

The consult is typically short, but your strategist was probably up all night analyzing data and re-evaluating your strategy to make it the best it can be. Are you meeting your objectives? If not, why not? What needs to be done differently to do so?

The Existing Content/SEO Evaluation Consult

Duration: 1+ hours

AKA: The " These are the problems I identified and what YOU can do to fix them"

Cost: Depends on the amount of content to be evaluated

This is a less hands-on approach for those who already have a strategy in place that they feel isn't up to par. If you or your people know some coding and have some writing skills, you may want to fix things yourself to save money.

A content strategist will evaluate your existing content, website, user-friendliness, goals, reports, etc. and share with you what you can do to make it better. You will receive a report in common language, which you will have an opportunity to discuss with the strategist during the consult.

Implementing the fixes, however, will be your responsibility. But the strategist will be available with additional services as needed to help fill in the gaps. If you think your site might need a lot of work and you do not have people who will know how to fix it, this will not be as cost-effective option as it might appear from afar.

Next in the Series: On-Page SEO

What you need to know about the SEO services you're buying to drive traffic to your site. Are they worth it?

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Leigh Clayborne is a Hubspot certified freelance content marketing / SEO content writer & strategist with 10 years healthcare management experience on 15+ years creating content. She is a strong proponent of creating the right customer experience to meet business goals.

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