What would the marketing industry be without the marketing consultants who make it all happen behind the scenes?
When any company is looking to outsource their marketing efforts, they usually seek out a qualified consultant to tackle the task at hand.
Essentially, a marketing consultant is an advertising and PR advisor that operates independently and works contractually with other businesses. Companies hire these professionals from outside their ranks to develop and implement effective marketing strategies that meet their specific sets of needs.
These consultants can:
- Assist companies in drawing up detailed marketing plans
- Determine their corporate identities and marketing messages
- Use the right combination of marketing strategies to target willing audiences
Over and above these tasks, many consultants also implement the marketing strategies they have helped to draft. They often assist in monitoring their results and tweaking them where necessary to ensure their clients enjoy the best possible results from their advertising pursuits.
What a Marketing Consultant Does
“A big business starts small.” – Richard Branson
Companies of all sizes, statures and natures will find themselves in need of marketing advice at one point or another.
Industry experience dictates that both well-established brands with their own marketing departments and smaller start-ups can benefit from sound advice when it comes to advertising their wares. This is where the knowledge of an expert comes in handy.
The services of a marketing consultant can help a business to:
- Benefit from specialised knowledge and skills that it itself lacks
- Offer a neutral outsider’s perspective on internal company obstacles
- Bring new perspectives on marketing strategies and customer relations to the table
- Allow it to focus primarily on its own operations, including product design and development
How to Spot a Good One
We’ve spoken about what a marketing consultant should be carrying out in their daily practices – but how do you find a marketing consultant who stands out from the rest?
It’s necessary to assess the skills that an effective marketing professional should have in order to answer this question. All marketing consultants should have a balanced mix of ‘soft’ and technical skills to meet the needs of their clients.
In this case, a balanced set may include skills in communications, marketing, economics, business, and corporate psychology, among others.
A marketing consultant worth their salt will also offer expertise in other areas of marketing.
A good professional will be able to assist your business with process-related factors such as social media marketing, digital marketing, copywriting, TV advertising, non-profit marketing, direct response marketing and public relations.
Anyone looking to hire such a professional should also be on the lookout for a creative thinker who shows solid analytical skills and results-driven thinking.
In a nutshell: A good marketing consultant should have a decent understanding of your target audience’s behaviours and psychology to be able to adequately meet your business’s advertising needs.
Listening and Attentiveness
Consulting is so much more than the simple process of a business acquiring advice from a consultant. It’s a symbiotic exchange in which the consultant will need to learn everything they can about their clients and their particular requirements and challenges.
Only once they have done this can they recommend effective changes to a business’s operations.
Bearing this in mind, it is crucial to find a marketing consultant that will listen attentively to their clients. A good consultant will be patient as they listen to a customer’s issues, requirements and goals.
If they are well suited to the job, they will make an effort to become adequately clued up on the business before jumping into a project. They will also remain cognisant of company and client parameters throughout the process, making changes that are sensitive to the needs and wants of their customers.
A trustworthy consultant is always willing to go the extra mile.
They will go out of their way to learn, find facts, research and gather knowledge to address a specific task or project. They will be well-prepared and confident in tackling marketing-related concerns and will do so with an air of curiosity. However, confidence aside, they should still be able to ask their clients questions with diplomacy, tact and respect.
Communication and Class
Yet another trait of a good marketing consultant is an ability to meticulously document their work. They are excellently written and spoken communicators who are able to work with their clients towards a single, unified vision.
Any professional consultant worth your money must be able to communicate clearly and openly, from the beginning of a project right down to its debriefing, to inspire trust in their clients.
Poor communication simply isn’t a positive sign when tasked with handling a business’s marketing communications. A professional needs to follow email etiquette at all times, whether they are updating their clients, sending requests or booking meetings. They take challenges in their stride and are quick to come forward with viable plans of action to overcome them.
A great consultant will strike a clear balance between being polite, innovative and affirmative while addressing their projects. They will work within deadlines without acting too hastily and will deliver tangible results within a pre-specified period.
You will never have to chase them up on their work deadlines, and if any delays are imminent, they will inform you in good time while providing solutions and strategies to get your project back on track.
Essentially: a good marketing consultant has respect for your business, your time, and your point of view, always!