So What Does a Marketing Consultant Do?
A marketing consultant is a skilled business professional. Consultants can either be self-employed or work for a consulting practice. They are brought on by an organization to help improve a company’s marketing. They create and implement marketing strategies. These strategies tend to be centered on customers by focusing on the services and products the company offers.
A consultant helps create a detailed marketing plan, determines the marketing message, and identifies the appropriate marketing mix. They are responsible for implementing the marketing plan, monitoring results as well as adjusting where needed.
The role of a marketing consultant varies greatly by company and project. Each company will have its own unique business goals and challenges. The consultant will first identify what the goals are and where challenges exist. Then the marketer will research, strategize and implement tactics designed to achieve business goals.
What makes a marketing consultant good?
The value of a marketing consultant is measured in their years of experience. An accomplished marketing consultant will have a track record of successfully maneuvering marketing on behalf of clients to reach business goals. How hands-on the marketing consultant is will vary. Some consultants are just advisers. Others can advise and implement tactics in order to achieve goals. It is good to be clear when hiring a marketing consultant how hands on they will be. An accomplished marketing consultant will be able to not only think creatively but analytically. They will also be results oriented.
What the positions held by a marketing consultant says about their background?
Marketing consultants often become a consultant after leaving a corporate career. The corporate positions that they’ve held can say a lot about their experience. Typical hierarchies of marketing positions within the corporate setting are as follows:
- Marketing Coordinator – A marketing coordinator is typically a junior or entry level position. Coordinators are responsible for implementing many of the tactics and strategies developed within the marketing department. A coordinator turned consultant can be very helpful at implementing marketing tactics. However, a coordinator is at the beginning of their career and will most likely go on to hold more senior positions before becoming a consultant.
- Marketing Specialist – A marketing specialist has a particular expertise within marketing. A specialist’s focus of expertise can range. Specialized areas include: social media, copy-writing, marketing research, search engine optimization or even an entire field like digital strategy. A Specialist turned consultant can be very helpful at implementing a particular tactic or type of marketing.
- Marketing Manager – A marketing manager manages the day to day operations of the marketing department. If the company is small, they can sometimes be the only person in the department. They work to come up with strategy then implement and measure its success. A marketing manager can make a great marketing consultant, because they are great generalists and typically hands-on.
- Marketing Director – Marketing Directors are more senior or even head up a department or a product of service line. Directors tend to work at a more strategic level and then task out or work with others within the department to create marketing deliverables. Directors can make great consultants, especially at the advising level.
- Marketing Communications Manager – Marketing Communications Managers are field generals. They are strategic marketing visionaries that will get their hands dirty in order to ensure that the marketing is implemented successfully. If you can find a Marketing Communications Manager turned consultant, then you will have found someone that can not only write the strategy, they can also implement it as well. This will give you a lot of bang for your buck.
- VP of Marketing – Marketing VPs head up the marketing for larger sized organizations. They typically deal with relationships at the high level of the organization. A VP turned consultant will typically bring much vision and strategy to the table. Because VPs come from larger organizations they will be comfortable working with large marketing budgets and therefore larger organizations. They will typically command a premium fee due to their experience. If you interview a VP turned consultant, ask them how much they plan to outsource during the course of their consultancy. Additional outsourcing will add cost to your budget which may or may not fit within your marketing budget.
A marketing consultant’s chosen discipline
The type of work that marketing consultant does will fall into one or more disciplines or categories. Namely these are:
- Business to Consumer (B2C) – Refers to commerce between a business and an individual consumer. Consumer transactions tend to be more impulsive in nature. Therefore, business to consumer marketing consultants tend to use marketing techniques that appease the emotional senses.
- Business to Business (B2B) – When the primary goal is selling to other businesses, this is referred to as business to business marketing. Business to Business marketing consultants will have experience understanding business needs by offering solutions. The sales cycle is long with business transactions. It can also involve committees and bidding processes.
A company selling to businesses can also sell directly to consumers. Additional marketing disciplines include: Business to Government (B2G), Business to Industrial (B2I) and Business to Investor (b2$).
A Marketing Consultant’s Expertise
Additionally, marketing consultants will have worked in different industries, giving them unique insight on how to market a particular type of product or service. These include:
- Real Estate Marketing – Real estate agents and brokers must employ strategies to promote awareness of their services to help sell more real estate. An experienced marketing consultant with a background in real estate will intimately know the strategies necessary to help agents and brokers improve their bottom line.
- Retail Marketing – Retail businesses undertake a range of strategies to promote awareness and sales of a company’s products. An experienced marketing consultant with a background in retail marketing will intimately know the strategies necessary to be successful in the retail setting.
- Services Marketing – Businesses that offer services require a special marketing skill set designed to communicate the value of a service which isn’t always tangible. A services marketing consultant will be able to arrive at solutions that can help communicate its value.
- Luxury Marketing – Luxury products and services are targeted at a market willing to pay a premium price. A marketing consultant with a background in luxury marketing will be able to dial in the right marketing mix in order to communicate the luxury experience which can in-turn command a high price tag.
- Healthcare Marketing – In healthcare marketers are tasked with promoting a service of care that aims to create health outcomes with patients. This task is balanced with having to generate revenue for the health system. Healthcare marketing consultants will be very familiar with this scenario. They will have the experience necessary to navigate marketing through all its complexities in the healthcare environment. Healthcare marketers can also be highly specialized. Some consultants provide services specifically for dental practices, hospitals, chiropractic practices, skilled nursing facilities or even for animal patients in the case of veterinary hospitals.
- Food Marketing – In food marketing, you are marketing a perishable product whose quality and availability varies seasonally. Food marketing consultants are aware of this challenge and have the necessary experience to avoid pitfalls while knowing what works and what does not.
- Sports Marketing – The marketing of sports is a 73.5 billion dollar a year industry. Sports marketers must focus both on the promotion of sports events and teams as well as the promotion of additional products and services through the sports organization. A sports marketing consultant will have had ample experience working in the industry, knowing its ins and outs. Some examples of further specialization within this unique area include golf marketing, sports apparel marketing, sports event marketing, sports team marketing, etc.
- Nonprofit Marketing – In nonprofit marketing, fundraising is what fuels the mission. A nonprofit marketing consultant will be familiar with the challenges associated with the industry. They will be used to competing for donors, referral sources, volunteer staff and board members. They will also be used to working with tight to nonexistent marketing budgets.
- International Marketing – When products and services are marketed outside of one’s domestic marketplace, a marketing consultant with international marketing experience should be brought in. They can offer a unique skill set which has built-in sensitivity to the cultural and environmental traits of the nation or region being targeted. They will be able to adapt the marketing mix so the product or service makes sense to the international target audience.
Typical responsibilities contracted to marketing consultants:
- Write a strategic marketing plan aimed at achieving business results
- Oversee a marketing research project
- Identify opportunities to attract new customers
- Create and implement a customer retention strategy
- Website design or re-design project
- Copy-writing for a website, brochure or advertisement
- Implement search engine optimization efforts for a website
- Design marketing collateral such as brochures, flyers, business cards, signage and posters
- Designing an advertising campaign
- Building a sales funnel
- Researching customer satisfaction
- Launch a direct marketing campaign
- Launch and track an advertisement campaign
- Oversee the development of a company’s brand, re-brand or branding for a company’s products, event or internal communications project
- Implement PR (public relations) campaigns
- Expand into new markets, territories or into international markets
- Design and launch a new product or service
- Understand your competitors and the threats in your marketplace
- Differentiate your brand through branding strategy
- Strengthen internal communications aimed at employees to create a richer customer service experience
- Implement digital strategy, content strategy and social media marketing
- Strengthen a company’s culture through its mission, core values or internal communications
- Help the human resources department better align their recruitment branding and marketing efforts with future employees
When hiring a marketing consultant, decide what your marketing goals are. Then you can pinpoint someone who has experience and skills in that area. Bringing in a consultant with experience directly in your industry is not a must, though it can help. If you do decide to venture in to hiring help for your marketing, make sure to always ask these questions when hiring a marketing consultant.
Levon Guiragossian is principal marketing consultant and founder of The Holy Grail of Marketing, a consulting practice specializing in helping businesses with their strategic marketing, branding, digital strategy and public relations needs.