Hiring a Marketing Consultant? Here’s 6 Things You Must Know
Are you looking to hire a marketing consultant? You came to the right place!
Hiring an outside consultant is a big investment. Not only are you bringing someone new (and external) into your company, but you do it knowing that big strategy changes are on the horizon.
There are many considerations to keep in mind:
- How do you know if your company needs a marketing consultant?
- What do you do to prepare?
- How can you gain buy-in from your leadership team and employees?
- What will the timeline be for seeing results?
In this article, we’ll answer the above questions and more. When you’re done reading, you’ll know what a marketing consultant does, why companies hire them, and 6 important things to know before you hire one yourself.
- Some marketing consultants offer a range of services, while others specialize in a few specific areas.
- Some companies hire a marketing consultant when their marketing efforts are struggling, but many others do it simply to optimize their efforts or to launch a new initiative.
- Your company needs a strong value proposition and product in order for your marketing strategy to succeed.
- Marketing tactics such as email marketing and content marketing take time to show real results.
- To succeed with a marketing consultant, you need buy-in from your company leaders and execution team.
- Marketing agencies (like Marketing Insider Group) can handle both the strategy and the execution of your content marketing strategy.
What is a marketing consultant?
A marketing consultant is an external advisor who helps companies develop and implement the right marketing strategies to help them achieve their goals.
They are experts at critical components of a successful marketing strategy, such as:
- Identifying target audiences
- Uncovering gaps and opportunities
- Prioritizing tactics and initiatives
- Developing KPIs and success metrics
- Creating execution plans
Marketing consultants have extensive marketing experience themselves. They may work for a marketing consultancy firm or as an independent consultant. Companies choose which to hire depending on their specific preferences and needs.
As for specific specialties — it varies. Some marketing consultants may have experience and expertise in a number of areas. Others may specialize in one or two. Below is a list of common skills and areas of expertise marketing consultants typically offer.
Companies may choose a specialist marketing consultant if they have one very specific area they want to execute or improve. Those looking for a comprehensive marketing strategy need a marketing consultant who offers more generalized services.
Why do companies need a marketing consultant?
It’s easy to assume that any company hiring a marketing consultant must be in dire straits when it comes to their marketing strategy. This is not actually the case.
Sure, it is true that some companies hire a marketing consultant when their marketing performance is in trouble. And they’re right to do so! But it’s not the only reason companies want or need to hire one.
In many cases, companies hire a marketing consultant because they’re proactively looking to improve a specific area of their strategy, or even launch a new one altogether. For example, a company might have a successful SEO and content marketing strategy in place, but choose to hire a consultant who can help them launch their first email marketing campaign.
In this case, it doesn’t mean they’re in trouble — it just means they want to do things right the first time.
Some companies may be earning decent results but recognize that they should be getting higher ROI. Other companies may just want an outside perspective to help them improve and identify opportunities they might be missing. New companies might be building their first marketing team and want an expert to help launch their inaugural strategy.
The takeaway: marketing consultants are hired for a wide range of reasons. Doing so does not automatically indicate your company is struggling. It could simply mean you’re looking to improve, optimize, or launch something new.
6 things to know before you hire a marketing consultant
There are no magic solutions
You need a great product and value proposition for any marketing strategy to work. If there is a lack of demand for your solutions because customers don’t want or need them, hiring a marketing consultant won’t change it. If your company is struggling to grow due to issues that extend beyond marketing, it’s a good idea to explore them before you hire a consultant.
Strategyzer offers some great resources like the Value Proposition Canvas, Business Model Canvas, and guidance mapping assumptions. These tools can help you identify if and how your solutions are resonating with your target audience, and find opportunities to pivot and improve.
Results take time
New marketing strategies take time to show results. This is true no matter what tactics and initiatives you’re using. Generating a new lead, for example, takes about 8 touches with a new prospect. That means your new email marketing campaign will need to be in place for some time before you start to see growing conversion rates.
Content marketing earns higher ROI than any other digital marketing method — it costs 62% less and earns 3x the number of leads compared to traditional marketing methods. But it also takes up to 6-9 months to start showing real results. In fact, the first several months can be a rollercoaster as you see an initial spike in growth, then experience a dip before seeing consistently high performance.
Here’s what I mean:
It’s important to know that whatever strategies and tactics your marketing consultant suggests will take time to perform. You’ll need to spend time in the beginning providing background and planning strategies, too.
In other words: you’ll see ROI from working with a good marketing consultant over time, but it’s not an overnight fix-it solution.
You still need an internal champion
A marketing consultant is just that: a consultant. They’re there to help you succeed, but they are not an internal member of your team. They won’t be there every day to be sure your plan is being executed, and they don’t have the same firsthand knowledge you do about your company or your customer.
To get the most out of your work with a marketing consultant, you need an internal champion (or several) who will commit to executing the plans your consultant helps you develop. Your consultant is your guide, but ultimately you are your own execution team. Be sure you have it in place before you make the investment.
You’ll need to welcome constructive feedback
Are you ready to hear real, honest feedback about your current marketing plans and strategy? If you’re hiring a marketing consultant, you’ll need to prepare for it.
Remember — it’s a marketing consultant’s job to help you improve and optimize your efforts. To do that, they also need to point out where things are not working and why. A quality marketing consultant will also offer suggested solutions alongside this constructive feedback.
It’s not always easy to hear constructive feedback about your efforts when you’ve been putting your time and energy into them for a long time. But keep in mind that you can’t improve without first recognizing the gaps and issues that live within your current strategies. Be ready to welcome constructive feedback as an opportunity to get better and grow your business.
Leadership buy-in is necessary for success
Hiring a marketing consultant is an investment itself. More investment comes later, and it can vary in size depending on the tools, resources, and tactics you already have in place or need to implement later.
Financial investment typically requires buy-in from your company’s leadership. Your best bet is to get that buy-in before you hire a marketing consultant. The last thing you want to do is hire a marketing consultant only to meet an approval roadblock later!
Do your research, explain why a consultant is the best option for your marketing strategy, and prepare leaders for the investments you’ll likely make later on.
You can do this most successfully by focusing on results. How will this investment directly impact your company in a positive way? How will it help your company grow? What specific results can your leadership team expect to see improvements on?
Information that communicates tangible results is most likely to gain the important leadership buy-in you need.
You need an execution team
We already know that marketing consultants help you work on strategy — they don’t come to your office every day to handle the ins and outs of execution. That responsibility is going to fall on your internal team.
So — who is that team? If you don’t know, you should find out before you hire a marketing consultant.
Part of succeeding in your marketing efforts is having the right people on the bus. Be sure that you’re confident in your team’s ability to work with a consultant and execute new plans. Communicate effectively and often about how the consultancy will work, what responsibilities each team member should expect to handle, and what new responsibilities may arise.
Just like with your company leadership, the more you focus on value and include your team in the planning, the more likely you are to gain buy-in and engagement from your team. And you’ll need it to be successful!
Agency services as an alternative option
One of the primary must-knows before you hire a marketing consultant is that they are outside advisors. They aren’t an execution team, and a single consultant can’t carry out a company-wide marketing strategy.
But what if that’s what you need?
In many cases, companies know what the right strategy is, but they don’t have the bandwidth to execute it. Sometimes their internal marketing teams don’t have the right experience to carry out newer marketing tactics or navigate new technology tools without guidance. Other times, it doesn’t make sense to carry the financial weight of an internal marketing team, so companies need an alternative solution.
In these cases and more, the solution is a marketing agency.
Marketing agencies can not only help you plan your marketing strategy, they have writers, SEO experts, graphic designers, digital marketing specialists (and more!) on their teams so that you can leverage the right human resources without having to hire them yourself.
Best of all, marketing agencies are just as invested in your results as you are, because it’s the number one indicator of their effectiveness. They execute your plan and consistently share your performance results so you’ll be confident in their services and want to continue the business relationship.
At Marketing Insider Group, we have a team of writers and SEO experts who can deliver you optimized, ready-to-publish content every single week for a year (or more!). We can also help you evaluate your current content strategy and build one that is sure to earn you the results you’re looking for.