As a business owner or board director you will know that:
- Businesses of every size are now expected to market across ever expanded channels in an ever-changing marketing landscape.
- With 4 million pieces of content being published every day, competition for eyeballs is getting fierce online.
- Organic social reach and engagement has plummeted in the last few years but businesses still need to see a positive ROI from all the marketing activity they undertake.
- More than one million and a half workers are set to join the gig economy in the next year
In spite of the challenges, a growing number of businesses have learnt how to harness the power of freelance a marketing consultant or fractional marketing director to fulfil their marketing goals even, within the tightest of budgets. So what are the main motivations for companies to hire a marketing consultant? We’ve uncovered the main reasons why companies are now hiring marketing consultants rather than appointing agencies or sometimes even full-time staff.
26 KEY REASONS TO HIRE A MARKETING CONSULTANT
The biggest reason that companies hire consultants of all types is objectivity, particularly for a marketing consultant. A neutral and non-emotive perspective on a business is always useful and comes without power struggles, career-building motivations, and misaligned objectives of internal teams or traditional agency/client relationships
- Listening – All good marketing consultants have the ability to listen first and foremost, then form clear opinions, and most importantly build consensus with your internal teams about what is good for the business.
- Articulate Objectives – Clients hire consultants to be able to quickly understand and articulate your most pressing business objectives and then identify the projects or programmes that will bring you the best return on delivering those objectives.
- Focus – They should also be able to identify quickly what activity is working and focus the whole team on doubling down on those things rather than focusing on vanity projects.
- Honesty – Quite often clients just want a bit of honesty and some impartial advice from someone that is not engrained in the business or has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, like suppliers or agencies for example.
Fresh ideas and perspectives are central to success for modern businesses, the ability to evolve products, pricing and communication with your most profitable audiences are paramount. Marketing consultants are adept at doing this day in, day out, for a variety of clients, in different industries with different needs.
- External thinking – An outsider perspective is key to this, the ability to draw on different reference points and cues that can be used in your marketing and general communication.
- Clarity – Perspective has an additional benefit of being able to see the wood from the trees. Consultants tend not to be embedded long term in any one business, so don’t get tied to process or politics to the point where they become ineffective.
- Trends – They should always keep up to date with the latest developments in technology and trends, which can be invaluable if you are looking for a fresh perspective.
- Good Ideas – A good marketing consultant should be able to help you generate viable ideas, and bring in related ideas from other industries or verticals.
Quite often businesses are so focused on business, as usual, they don’t have the capacity or headspace to take a step back and focus on the longer-term direction of the company. Hiring a marketing consultant could be a good solution if your in-house teams don’t have time to deliver the following types of projects:
- Research – You may want to hire a research specialist to understand your audience or consumer trends. However, most consultants will be familiar with commissioning research, analysing research and deriving actionable insights from all types of research sources.
- Strategy – The most common reason I am brought into projects is to help with marketing strategy. Usually, businesses will have very clear business goals, but they have trouble articulating them from a marketing perspective as well as aligning business objectives with marketing ones.
- Planning – Another key reason I am brought into many projects is to undertake long term planning around marketing budgets and predicted returns. Many in-house teams do not have the capacity or knowledge to undertake this type of work and still deliver on the day to day work.
- Tactics – Even the most forward-thinking businesses who can articulate their marketing strategy often struggle with translating this into actionable tactics. They see that the strategy is very clear, but can’t understand why teams on the ground are not delivering on it. Often this is because both the business objectives and strategy need reframing to be meaningful to people who need to deliver tactical outcomes.
Sometimes a marketing consultant can be a good option if you are coming up against resourcing issues. They can quite often help on a long or short term project to help you:
- Specialist Skills – Consultants can provide a very specialist marketing skill such as; PPC, SEO or content marketing. In these cases, it often ends up being more cost-efficient to hire a consultant who is dedicated to your business rather than an agency which tends to be much bigger, and services many, (sometimes too many) clients. It also might be that you just need that skillset short term, to deliver a specific project, or until you have the capacity to hire someone full-time.
- Recruitment – Another reason to hire a consultant is to help you recruit your own marketing team. Usually, businesses that have never had a marketing team find it hard to hire marketing staff as they don’t know what to look for, and don’t often have the same marketing language or skills. A good consultant will help you find the right people for your needs, hire them in the right order as you grow, and will vet applicants through the process so you don’t employ someone who is incapable of the role you are hiring for.
- Training & Resourcing – Another area a marketing consultant can be very cost-effective is in upskilling or identifying resourcing gaps in your existing marketing team as you grow. Good consultants are used to delivering both formal and informal training as part of their role. They should also be able to assess teams to see where things could be improved. Good marketing consultants also have a black book of contacts that they have used or worked alongside in the past that they can slot straight into your business.
SOMETHING IS BROKEN
All marketing consultants love fixing things, it’s their speciality, and why they consult rather than taking an in-house position. So whatever your issue, if you to fix something, fast then consider hiring one:
- Your strategy is broken – If you feel like your marketing just isn’t working, and you are not sure whether you need a change of personnel or it is a lack of focus, then find a marketing consultant.
- You need to fix your conversions – You are wasting money, but you are not sure where. May be your existing team has been too focused on vanity metrics, or your site design is poor. These issues are bread and butter for good consultants.
- Your existing team is broken – Whether it is a more general team who are required to undertake marketing activities or a dedicated marketing team, a good consultant should be able to pinpoint issues and resolve issues quickly and help you build a more cohesive team as part of the process.
- Your brand voice is outdated, or doesn’t resonate with consumers – Consultants should have the skills and knowledge to get you back on the right track. Most should be able to deliver brand playbooks covering things like; the brand tone of voice, key content pillars and communication dos and don’ts.
Probably the most common reason I am brought into projects is accountability. Clients like that I bill by the hour, document everything that I do, and operate with no forward commitment. If things are not working out, or I make suggestions that don’t work, I will acknowledge it and bear the consequences.
- Delivery – A lot of businesses just want someone who can deliver what they say, both from the practical objectives standpoint and from their skillsets. I quite often refer clients, other freelancers and suppliers, I have worked with in the past when I have reached the limit of my own abilities.
- Dependable – Quite often business owners just want someone dependable that they can trust to get on with the job, leaving them to focus on developing their business or product without interruptions.
- Challenge – Surprisingly, and an increasing number of clients who hire me also want someone independent that can hold them accountable. Someone to help document their goals and keep to keep those goals in front of mind in discussions, especially when the next shiny toy pops up!
The final set of reasons that more businesses are hiring marketing consultants are very pragmatic. Clients recognise that a consultant offers a unique set of benefits that the business can exploit cost-effectively.
- Cost – A business owner either might not want or cannot afford an agency, so a consultant is less of a commitment with the same, if not better results.
- Time Savers – Some businesses do not have the time to ‘fail fast’, and for whatever reason need the knowledge and the past experience of a consultant to fast track their marketing and avoid the pitfalls.
- Knowledge – Some businesses lack deep industry knowledge that a consultant can provide, other times they are looking for inspiration from outside of their industry.
- Flexibility – Finally, it could be the flexibility that marketing consultants offer that could be the main reason for hiring. The ability to make marketing gains without the overhead, or commitment of full-time staff or agencies.
KEY BENEFITS OF HIRING A MARKETING CONSULTANT
To summarise the main benefits of hiring a marketing consultant are:
- Objectivity – The ability to listen, focus on your business issues and give honest and practical advice.
- Capacity – To focus on the main marketing functions such as research, strategy and planning.
- Plugging Gaps – Supplement your existing business with specialist skills, recruitment needs and training
- Fixing Issues – Focused help with problems such as strategy, branding or team dynamics
- Accountability – Someone to deliver results
- Practical – Cost-efficient, time-saving, knowledge and flexibility
CONCLUSIONS & THOUGHTS
Whatever your circumstances, I would urge you to at least consider a marketing consultant if any of the reasons above resonate with you.
My clients say that it’s the peace of mind that knowing that someone who is more experienced than you are, is on your side, is the reason they keep on coming back for more. However, before committing to hiring a consultant of any type I would urge you to make sure that the cultural and brand fit is right between the two of you if they don’t inherently understand the proposition, it is unlikely to be a productive relationship.
Oh, also, if would like any advice, please feel free to drop me a line.