I get this question from friends all the time. So I decided to clear this out once and for all in one sentence and have elaborated too 👇👇👇
Marketing Consulting Definition: The procurement or provision of professional services to support immediate and long-term marketing strategies for engaging customers and improving business performance.
What Are Marketing Consultant Services?
Marketing consultants – aka marketing advisers – are multi-skilled individuals who understand the process of connecting businesses with their target audiences. This may be a somewhat broad definition, but the services provided by marketing consulting firms are equally broad in scope.
What Do Marketers Do?
It’s often assumed that marketing consultants and advertising agencies offer the same basic services. In reality, the two are quite different, though are deeply interconnected.
With advertising, it’s essentially a case of communicating a predetermined message to an identified and accessible audience. Advertising agencies assist with the process of creating compelling ads and ensuring they reach the relevant recipients.
By contrast, a marketing consultant can help a brand or business build better connections with prospective and existing customers alike. They focus on the enhancement of the brand’s wider image, authority, and appeal, as opposed to more direct selling of products and services. A marketing consultant can help identify a viable target audience in the first place, analyze customer behaviors and preferences, establish goals and create a strategic road map for their accomplishment.
From initial planning to strategic framework development to implementation to on-going analysis and optimization, professional marketers and marketing consultancy firms help the business meet its financial and more general performance-based objectives.
Marketing Consulting Agency Types
If you’ve decided to join forces with an internet marketing consultant (or digital marketing consultant), you’ll need to first consider their background and expertise. Along with a variety of specialist fields within digital marketing, there are two primary categories of marketing consultants to be aware of:
- Business to Consumer (B2C) – Consumer transactions have a tendency to be impulsive and based on emotions, rather than logic. Hence, B2C marketing agencies focus heavily on techniques and strategies that appeal to the target market’s emotions.
- Business to Business (B2B) – The B2B space is more about logic, providing the intended recipient with the strongest possible argument to invest in the product or service available. B2B marketing tends to be more factual than emotional.
Of course, you’ll always come across marketing consulting firms that provide both B2B and B2C solutions. In any case, it’s the client’s responsibility to first determine if and to what extent their respective service provider has relevant expertise and experience.
Typical Services of the Digital Marketing Consulting Agency
Most of the digital marketing agencies have their Core Service that they perform the best. Some of those cover:
- Marketing Strategy Design ⚡️
- Value Proposition and Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Development 💣
- Inbound Lead Generation
- Outbound Lead Generation
- Content Marketing
- Marketing Funnels Design
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Marketing Automation
- Web Design and Development
- Creative Services (Branding, Communication)
- Video Marketing
Can you learn Digital Marketing at School or University? 💪 🤷♂️ 🙅♂️
Absolutely yes. 💪 But once you graduate, most the knowledge you have worked so hard for is going to be outdated. That’s just harsh truth. The educational system is too slow to pick up the latest changes. For example, Google changes its algorithm over 200 times a year and releases 2-4 major updates annually. These updates turn the SEO world upside down completely. Facebook changes its algorithm constantly as well, releases new advertising options constantly. Some aspects of our daily operations as an agency in 2019 did not even exist in 2018. Therefore, you can definitely learn the fundamentals at school, and you should. But do not expect to rock and roll once you graduate. 🤷♂️ You’ll need a practitioner next you for a while to truly learn how to apply your knowledge. 💪
Why Hire a Marketing Consultant?
From a typical business perspective, knowing where to draw the line is difficult. Particularly if your business is currently performing adequately, it’s not always easy to know if/when a marketing consultant should be brought in.
Nevertheless, there are several common issues and obstacles an elite marketing consultant can help your business overcome. Examples of which include the following:
1. You’re Lacking an Effective Strategy
If you’re currently operating in the absence of any real marketing strategy whatsoever, you could be selling yourself and your business short. The number-one rule for successful marketing being to follow a detailed and well-structured strategy at all times.
2. Your Objectives Are Unclear
Having too many objectives, unclear objectives or no specific objectives whatsoever is a guaranteed formula for poor performance. A good marketing consultant can help establish achievable objectives and priorities for your business to work towards.
3. You Lack the Necessary Resources
In terms of both equipment and manpower, you may be in a position where you simply cannot orchestrate and implement an effective marketing strategy in-house. In which case, hiring help may be the only feasible option.
4. You’re Struggling with Customer Retention
Attracting one-off sales is fine, but the key to success in competitive times lies in customer retention and loyalty. If you’re finding it difficult to appeal to your audience enough to keep them on board long-term, your marketing strategy may need a rethink.
5. Your Current Consultant Is Underperforming
A marketing consultant should never take a penny from a client without delivering measurable results and a consistent ROI. If this simply isn’t the case with your current consultant, it could be time to seek support elsewhere.
What to Look for in a Quality Marketing Consultant
One of the biggest mistakes any business can make is basing their decision entirely on costs. Freelance marketing consultancy rates and agency marketing consultancy rates range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but you cannot put a price on quality.
Ultimately, it’s all about value for money – the ROI your marketing consultant is able to guarantee. Any consultant worth hiring will have an established track record of successfully helping businesses achieve their objectives. They’ll take a hands-on approach to the services they provide, rather than simply sitting on the side lines as an advisor.
Most importantly, they’ll take an active interest in your business and demonstrate both the pride and enthusiasm needed to get the job done. They’ll be creative, innovative and results oriented, with all the technical skills required to create and implement a multi-dimensional marketing strategy.
As for a specific duties and responsibilities, a professional marketing consultant can provide a variety of supportive services such as:
- Marketing plan creation in line with business goals
- The establishment of financial and performance objectives
- Target audience identification and analysis
- Identification of opportunities for expansion
- Customer satisfaction research and problem solving
- Development and implementation of customer retention strategies
- Digital asset analysis and web design/redesign
- Copywriting and general content marketing duties
- Advanced search engine optimisation services
- Conversion rate optimisation and sales funnel streamlining
- Extensive online and offline public relations campaigns
- Assistance with the introduction of new products and services
- Brand identity development and differentiation
- The improvement of internal and external communications
- Complete social media marketing services
- Broad competitor research and general sector analysis
Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the business to determine its immediate and long-term marketing objectives. An experienced consultant can provide extensive support in a variety of areas such as those outlined above, but you first need to know what you want and what you expect.
Key Questions Your Consultant Will Ask
When hiring a marketing consultant for the first time, you’ll have plenty of questions to ask and assurances to seek. Nevertheless, you can also expect to be asked an extensive list of questions by the consultant. The better they get to know your business and its objectives, the stronger the position they’ll be in to drive positive change.
The following represent just a few of the questions you can expect to be asked when bringing a marketing consultant on board:
1. How do you define success?
Realistically, you can’t expect a consultant to help your business succeed if you don’t first define what ‘success’ means to you. Do you have your sights set on a specific annual income? An exact number of monthly new customers? Or is your primary goal an international expansion? Whatever it is, it needs to be defined and clearly communicated.
2. What’s the story behind your brand?
For the expert marketing consultant, it isn’t enough to simply know what your brand does. Instead, they need to know why it does it, how it came about and subsequently build a complete picture of its background. The more compelling your brand’s story, the better.
3. What sets you apart from the competition? 💣💣💣
The toughest question of all! If you’re unable to answer this question, you may need to reconsider your business model as a whole. There has to be something that differentiates your business and makes it remarkable. You may be the most technologically advanced on the market, provide the highest quality customer support, offer the fastest delivery worldwide, have the highest overall customer satisfaction rating or simply offer something 100% unique. This will form the crux of your entire marketing strategy, so needs to be considered carefully.
4. What do your competitors do better than you?
It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s nonetheless important to acknowledge and accept where your competitors are currently outperforming you. Armed with this information, you’ll be in a perfect position to improve, evolve and ultimately take the lead.
5. Why are you hiring a marketing consultant? And Why Now?
Perhaps the most important question of all – what do you expect to get out of the deal? What has motivated you to seek expert assistance with your marketing strategy? Again, it’s a case of defining and communicating your objectives as clearly as possible, in order to help your consultant formulate a workable strategy accordingly.
Irrespective of the effectiveness (or otherwise) of your existing marketing strategy, the input of an experienced marketing consultant could prove invaluable. Oftentimes, an initial consultation is all that’s needed to pinpoint profitable opportunities you’ve yet to explore for the benefit of your business. Not to mention, identify obstacles standing in your way and begin working towards their elimination.
Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA MARKETING