Consulting is such an ambiguous concept, isn’t it? When you ask someone, “So, what do you do for a living?” and they reply with, “Oh, I’m a consultant,” do you find yourself staring at them blankly?
It’s hard to determine what they actually do based on their job description alone! Marketing consultants, though often misunderstood, are highly skilled individuals.
They have gained enough experience in their career to be advising other companies on how to improve their processes; there’s something to be said for that level of credibility!
Any organization – whether a small business, large corporation, or nonprofit – can benefit from the guidance and input of a marketing consultant, even if they have a dedicated marketing team already in place.
An outside consultant can provide a fresh perspective, bring niche skills to the table, and take some of the burdens off of that organization’s shoulders so they can focus on their day-to-day business.
But what does that mean on a granular level?
What Does a Marketing Consultant Actually Do?
The daily tasks of a marketing consultant vary depending on the companies they’re currently assisting and projects on their plate.
The overarching theme, though, is advising their clients on how best to reach their target audience and customers.
They will typically start by exploring and evaluating their clients’ current marketing strategy, then make recommendations for changes in their social media presence, marketing campaigns, online content, workflow, or training necessary for the existing marketing team.
Some marketing consultants will implement these changes themselves, but all consultants will use analytics tools to gauge the success rate of the new marketing strategies.
What skills do marketing consultants have?
While every project and client brings a different set of challenges, a marketing consultant will draw from experience in online marketing, social media marketing, copywriting, direct response marketing, even print and TV advertising.
Their skillset is diverse, and every day looks a bit different than the last!
Let’s say a marketing consultant is working with a client in the food industry.
Food and food products vary by season and can be a fickle product.
An experienced marketing consultant recognizes this and develops a marketing strategy tailored to the company’s ability to procure that product.
The marketing consultant acknowledges that the supply may not be as high in some months, so they will dial back the company’s campaigns and targeted ads in the slow periods.
During the months of elevated supply levels, the marketing consultant will have a plan to saturate the company’s social media and content outlets, ramping up their marketing strategy to capitalize on the demand.
That same marketing consultant may also have a client in the nonprofit sector, which requires an entirely different approach.
A skilled marketing consultant recognizes that fundraising and volunteers keep their client ticking, and will adjust their marketing strategy to that effect.
They will target new donors, volunteer staff, and board members with email campaigns, social media campaigns, and blog posts.
The consultant will help their nonprofit client tell their most compelling stories to capture the attention of a new audience and keep the attention of their existing audience – all on a tight, nonprofit budget!
What are their qualifications?
The most crucial factor for a successful marketing consultant is experience. Experience is not synonymous with time spent in their field, though.
A consultant could have had a few years of valuable experience at a high-profile agency that catapults them into a position of authority, more than one who has spent several years toiling through smaller, low-profile clients.
Regardless of how they obtain it, experience is a must for marketing consultants. Most will have a portfolio of successful marketing strategies in a diverse range of sectors, demonstrating a wide variety of skill sets.
Others have discovered a niche, so their portfolio will show a history of successes in that particular industry.
Typically, an undergraduate degree in business, communications, or marketing is necessary to establish yourself as a consultant. A master’s degree is even more helpful, particularly an MBA with a marketing focus.
A successful marketing consultant will have solid technical skills as well. They need to be experts in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (pay-per-click), lead generation, and social media.
They should also be familiar with platforms and systems such as Google Analytics, Marketo, HubSpot, and other automation tools.
The most successful consultants will have a high level of confidence, some pluck, or moxie.
They need to speak with authority and feel confident when challenges arise. And while they should respect their clients, they should be willing to ask the tough questions and challenge their perspectives!