For small to medium-sized businesses with little marketing experience, marketing consulting is crucial for them if they are looking to grow and succeed. It involves hiring a professional marketing consultant to provide expert advice, guidance, and solutions to help a business reach its marketing goals. But who are marketing consultants?
A marketing consultant is a marketing professional who provides expert advice, guidance, and solutions to businesses on their marketing strategies and tactics. They typically have extensive knowledge and experience in marketing and a deep understanding of a particular industry’s marketing techniques. However, one should note that consultants tend to specialize in a specific type of marketing or industry.
Marketing consultants work with businesses to develop and implement marketing plans that help achieve their goals, such as increasing revenue, building brand awareness, or expanding their customer base. The main objective of marketing consulting is to help businesses improve their marketing efforts and achieve success in their industry.
Just how important is marketing consulting? According to Mayple, the US government spent $705 million in 2020 on marketing consulting services. This highlights just how vital marketing consulting is not only to businesses but to the federal government as well. So just how exactly does marketing consulting work?
The marketing consulting model
To better understand how marketing consultancy works, let’s look at the marketing consulting model. A marketing consultant model works together with a business model to deliver value to a business. It consists of:
- Market research: This is the process of collecting and analyzing information about the target market, customer preferences, behaviors, and demographics. Market research aims to gain a deeper understanding of the customers and their needs, which helps inform the marketing strategy. There are two types of market research: primary research and secondary research.
- Marketing strategy: This is a plan that outlines how a company will reach its target market and achieve its marketing goals. A marketing strategy typically includes the 4Ps of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. The product refers to the goods or services being offered, while the price refers to the cost of the product. Promotion includes advertising, sales promotions, and public relations activities. Place refers to the distribution channels used to sell a product or service. Marketing consulting will enable a company to develop a marketing strategy that aligns with its business objectives and target audience.
- Marketing analytics: It involves using data to measure and analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. By tracking and analyzing data such as website organic traffic, social media engagement, and conversion rates, an organization can gain insights into how successful its marketing efforts are and identify areas for improvement. Marketing consultants will work with companies to develop systems for measuring and analyzing marketing data to inform future marketing decisions.
- Persona analysis: A persona is a fictional representation of a business’s target customer based on market research and customer data. Thus, persona analysis involves creating detailed profiles of the target customer, including their demographics, behaviors, and preferences. A company can better understand its target audience through persona analysis and develop marketing campaigns that resonate with them.
The benefits of marketing consulting services
So what are the benefits one can expect from marketing consulting, now that we understand the consulting model?
- Lower cost than an in-house marketing manager: A marketing consultant typically charges a flat fee or hourly rate, which is often lower than the salary and benefits of a full-time marketing employee. Additionally, a marketing consultant is typically only hired for specific projects or campaigns, so no ongoing costs are associated with their employment. This can prove to be extremely beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses with limited budgets.
- Assured delivery with minimal stress: Marketing consultants are experts in their field/specialty and have experience working on various marketing projects. When a company hires a marketing consultant, they can be assured that the project will be delivered on time and to a high standard. This can reduce stress for the business owner or marketing team, who may not have the same level of expertise in a particular area of marketing.
- A fresh perspective on marketing efforts: Hired marketing consultants are not part of the company and, therefore, can provide an unbiased view of the company’s marketing strategies. This can lead to new and innovative marketing ideas that the company may not have considered. They can also provide a new perspective on existing marketing efforts, identifying areas for improvement and optimization.
- Flexible access to marketing expertise: They (marketing consultants) can be hired for short-term or long-term projects, and their expertise can be tailored to the company’s specific needs. This means that a business can access marketing expertise as and when needed without committing to a long-term employee.
- Access to a larger network of marketing experts: A network of marketing experts that a business can tap into could be beneficial in the long run. This can include graphic designers, copywriters, social media experts, and more. By hiring a marketing consultant, a business can access this wider network of expertise without having to hire each expert individually.
Must-have Skills To Look For in Marketing Strategy Consultants
We have already listed the benefits that marketing strategy consultants offer businesses. But what type of skills should they possess for effective marketing consulting? Some must-have skills for marketing consultants include:
- Effective communication
- Product marketing
- Attention to detail
- Lead generation
- Use of various marketing automation tools
- Content management
- Creative thinking
- Social media marketing
- Market research
- Marketing strategy
In addition to the above, don’t forget to look at their references and testimonials for services that they have provided. This way, you ensure that you are hiring someone who has delivered for others in the same industry as yours.
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Marketing Consultancy Companies and What To Look for When Hiring Them
Marketing consultancy companies provide professional marketing consulting services to businesses of all sizes. Unlike a marketing consultant, who is likely to be a single individual working on your company’s marketing efforts, marketing consulting companies typically consist of a team of marketing experts with a wealth of knowledge and experience in different areas of marketing.
Thus, assuming you are looking to choose from one of the top marketing consulting firms, there are several factors you should consider:
- Budget: Before you begin your search for marketing consultancy firms—or even marketing strategy consultants—you need to determine how much you can afford to spend on marketing services. The cost of marketing consultancy services can vary depending on the firm’s size, location, and expertise. It’s essential to get quotes from several firms and compare their prices to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.
- References: As was previously stated when discussing marketing consultants, another crucial factor to consider when choosing a marketing consultancy firm is its references. A reputable marketing consultancy firm will have a list of satisfied clients who can vouch for their marketing strategy services. You can ask for references from the firm and contact their previous clients to get an idea of their experience working with the firm. Alternatively, check online reviews and ratings to see what other clients have to say about the firm.
- Experience: You want to work with a firm that has experience working with businesses in your industry or niche. A firm with experience in your industry will better understand your target audience and the challenges and opportunities specific to your industry. You can ask the firm about their experience and the results they have achieved for businesses similar to yours.
- Skills: We previously mentioned some of the skills that you should look for when hiring a marketing consultant. These same skills apply when hiring a marketing consulting company. Do what you can to verify that the firm has people with the above listed skills and any other skills you think may be needed for your business’s marketing efforts.
- Relationship and Communication: Lastly, the relationship and communication between you and the marketing consultancy firm are essential. The firm should be responsive to your questions and concerns and provide regular updates on the progress of your marketing efforts. A good marketing consultancy firm will also work collaboratively with you and your marketing team, if any, to develop and implement marketing strategies that align with your business goals.
Marketing Consulting vs. Marketing Agency
As we conclude, it is worth looking at marketing consulting vs. marketing agency and which you should choose for your business.
A marketing agency refers to a business that offers various marketing services to other businesses. These services may encompass activities like advertising, social media, public relations, email marketing, content creation, and many others.
Unlike a marketing consultant specializing in a particular industry or marketing methodology, agencies can perform all marketing tasks.
However, one should consider the cost, expertise, and services provided before deciding whether to employ a marketing consultant or a marketing agency. You can read our blog, where we dive a bit deeper into the pros and cons of each.