A modern business needs skilled and creative professionals to fill its marketing department. But at times, the internal team requires additional supervision and outside perspective on their efforts. That’s where a marketing consultant comes into the picture.
With social, economic, and political ambiguity in almost every industry, marketing consultants are high in demand. Using their expertise, these outside professionals help businesses scale with growth strategies and actionable marketing plans.
If you’re an aspiring consultant or a business owner curious about the idea of hiring a consultant over a full-time marketer, keep reading. In this article, I’ll share the typical roles and responsibilities of a marketing consultant.
Let’s get started.
Who is a Marketing Consultant?
A marketing consultant is an external professional who plans out, owns, and executes the marketing efforts of businesses, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. They help their clients set up frameworks for boosting brand awareness, generating more leads, improving conversion rates, and other strategic marketing reasons.
Unlike a full-time, in-house employee, a consultant also acts like a partner – advising the management about best-practices, while also doing the hard work.
Most professionals end up creating their own marketing consulting firms and hire additional profiles to offer consultancy on fixed rates.
A consultant is different from a traditional advertising/marketing agency. The latter can only help come up with creative ways to execute your strategy and deliver your marketing messages. A consultant, on the other hand, can do everything – from conducting market research to executing the marketing campaigns.
How a Marketing Consultant Can Help
If you’re a business owner or a marketing manager, here are some of the benefits of hiring an experienced marketing consultant for your company's growth:
- They do your market research and devise a definite strategy to position your business.
- A good marketing consultant advises you on budgeting and opportunity costs.
- They devise growth strategies that are personalized for your business’ unique attributes.
- A marketing consultant also creates processes and a product development life cycle.
- They help your business improve customer experience and public relations.
- They devise unique strategies to boost conversion rates.
- A marketing consultant can help you devise social media marketing strategies.
All things considered, strong marketing consulting can impact your business bottom line.
In a world where businesses need all the help they can get in standing out from the competition, capturing market segments, and communicating their messages, marketing consultants play a critical role.
Typical Roles and Responsibilities of a Marketing Consultant
At the end of the day, a marketing consultant is a highly experienced marketer who offers their services on a one-off basis.
They are perfect for organizations that require assistance with their marketing initiatives, and don’t want to hire a full-time employee for that purpose.
Furthermore, a marketing consultant’s job description depends on the type of services they offer. A consultant might only specialize in creating strategies, but not necessarily have the resources to fully execute said strategies.
But a typical consultant who is a complete package would be tasked with the following (keep in mind that a business/client won’t necessarily have their consultant do all of the following):
1. Understand Company Objectives and Conduct Market Research
Before anything else, a marketing consultant is expected to do their homework and really dig deep to understand their client’s business.
Diving headfirst into a marketing initiative without first understanding the business, its industry, and its strategic requirements, is a classic recipe for disaster.
To that end, the marketing consultant works closely with the main stakeholders – the CEO, CMO, the president, etc. – to understand the business goals.
Afterwards, the consultant conducts extensive market research to understand the target audience, identify growth opportunities, and validate the need of the products/services. However, if the consultant has ample experience serving similar clients from the same sector, they may not necessarily conduct market research from scratch.
2. Create and Implement Marketing Strategies
This is the core responsibility of any marketing consultant.
A consultant is like a jack of all trades. They have ample experience with both conventional and digital marketing.
After understanding the business, requirements, and the target audience, they work closely with their clients to devise a marketing strategy.
The main strategy would include:
- Market research
- Description of target audience
- Business goals
- Competitor analysis
To execute the overall marketing strategy, the consultant comes up with additional strategies. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Lead Generation – the business comes up with creative ways to boost its lead generation. Some common tactics include content and social media marketing.
- Brand Awareness – depending on the business, a consultant may recommend social media, PPC, GDN, or conventional ads (TV, billboards, etc.) for this purpose.
- Search Engine Optimization – every modern business needs a strong SEO strategy to rank higher in organic search results. If the business doesn’t have a separate SEO consultant, the marketing consultant may be asked to oversee the SEO initiatives.
- Social Media Marketing – the consultant leverages various social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc. to reach more potential customers with their marketing messages.
- Content Marketing – this entails creating impactful content with the intent of educating, informing, and capturing the market. Since content is fuel for marketing, your content marketing strategy will overlap with other strategies, especially email, social, and SEO.
- Paid Search Marketing – a marketing consultant may also use paid search/PPC ads to achieve business objectives.
After devising all of the required marketing-related strategies, the consultant also implements them by sharing them with the relevant stakeholders and coming up with plans.
3. Develop Marketing Material
A marketing consultant is also responsible for developing (or at the very least, supervising) marketing material.
For a marketer, this mainly involves copywriting. However, a skilled professional may also be directly involved with graphic designing and video production processes.
The deliverables may include:
- Sales landing pages
- Email copy
- Posts for company’s blog
- Search ad copy
- Video scripts
- Social ad designs
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A client business may ask its consultant to develop additional material.
4. Coordinate Activities Related to Marketing
A marketing consultant may be a jack of all trades, but it’s impossible for one person to execute all of the marketing campaigns on their own.
For that reason, the consultant turns towards the in-house or external teams of creatives, PR professionals, and analysts.
The consultant creates a clear schedule for the initiatives and coordinates with the concerned teams to ensure all marketing activities are carried out on time.
This entails having strong communication, leadership, teamwork, and time management skills, in addition to proficiency in using various team collaboration tools like Asana, Slack, and Monday.
5. Communicate the Brand Message Across the Organization
An organization can’t fully succeed with its business marketing until and unless all of its employees – or at least, all of the concerned departments, especially sales and marketing – understand the core business, its values, and the market it wants to capture.
That’s where internal marketing comes into the picture. The company’s culture plays a vital role in marketing to internal stakeholders. While the consultant may not have much jurisdiction in that area, they still help devise and execute an internal marketing strategy.
The consultant ensures that the brand message is clearly communicated across the entire organization. Doing so not only helps in keeping the employees engaged, but also enables them in becoming true advocates for the business.
6. Analyze Marketing Performance and Report to Stakeholders/Clients
In addition to conducting research, creating strategies, and executing plans, a marketing consultant also analyzes the performance of their efforts and shares them with their clients.
This job, while rewarding, comes with a great deal of accountability.
A consultant has to own their work and prove the significance of their services. In addition, they have to justify their fee.
For that purpose, they use various key performance indicators that are highlighted in the main marketing strategy. These could include:
- Monthly website visitors
- Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
- Customer engagement
- Customer lifetime value (CLTV)
- Return on investment
- Cost per lead
The consultant creates detailed monthly, quarterly, or annual reports (this completely depends on the specific requirements of the client business), and shares those numbers with the CEO, CMO, president, and/or the strategists.
7. Come Up with New Marketing Initiatives and Improve Existing Efforts
The difference between a mediocre marketing consultant and a great one is that the latter goes one step further to figure out ways to consistently help the business in terms of marketing.
This involves conducting additional research to discover new markets, figure out ways to improve existing strategy, and recommending MarTech that could help with marketing automation.
How to Become a Marketing Consultant?
An entry-level marketer isn’t qualified to call themselves a marketing consultant.
You need a certain level of experience, expertise, and skillsets to qualify – things that take some years to add up.
That being said, here are some of the boxes that a marketing consultant should tick:
- Academic Qualifications – most businesses prefer consultants with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or a related field. In addition, certifications validating their skills are a huge plus.
- Experience – a marketing consultant should have a minimum of 5 years of experience working at a consulting firm, advertising agency, or as an independent freelancer. Smart marketers focus on serving only a handful of sectors to carve out a niche.
- Skillsets – technical skills, such as researching, data analysis, copywriting, graphic designing, and proficiency in various marketing tools are necessary. Furthermore, strong interpersonal, communication, critical thinking, creativity, and management skills are also a huge plus.
For marketers who envision themselves offering their services as independent consultants, it’s only a matter of spending ample time in the workforce, gathering experience, and expanding your skillsets.
How Much Do Marketing Consultants Make? (What to Pay or Demand)
Seeking the services of a marketing consultant is usually cheaper than hiring a full-time in-house marketer.
However, that doesn’t mean that their services come cheap.
According to one source, marketing consultants charge anywhere from $40 to $300 per hour, depending on their experience and what’s required of them.
Furthermore, the rates may also vary from sector to sector. For instance, marketers who specialize in SaaS may charge higher than those who cater to the education sector.
If you’re new to the consulting business, look up average pay rates for your industry. Similarly, business owners should do their homework for smooth negotiations.