Do You Really Need Marketing Consultants?
I read an article the other day by Neil Patel on Quicksprout.com about why you shouldn’t hire marketing consultants. He made a lot of good points but there were a few things I didn’t agree with. His article is a few years old now and I thought it was time to take a different tack and look at all the ways a consultant can help your business.
There is no standard job description when it comes to marketing consultants. Some have more experience in offline marketing and others more in the digital side of things. Others have experience across a range of areas which can make them better placed to offer impartial guidance on different methods and approaches.
What does a marketing consultant do?
It can be difficult for business owners to know what is reasonable to expect from a marketing consultant. To help you get a better idea of what’s possible I’ve covered the top 50 ways that a marketing specialist can boost your business:
- Clarity about where you want to go
If you don’t know exactly where you want to go and why then it’s hard to know how to get there or when you’ve arrived. For example, let’s say a business owner thinks they want to hit a certain turnover but when pushed it turns out that they would be happier with a lower turnover if it meant that they weren’t as stressed about how the business could grow.
- Create a strategic marketing plan
Knowing where you want to go is an important first step but having a clear written view of how you’re going to get there is the crucial second step. A marketing consultant can create a strategic marketing plan based on an in-depth review of your business.
- Create an achievable action plan
Strategic marketing documents need to be turned into actionable plans to have any value to your business. Creating a strategic plan without a corresponding plan on how you will implement would be like an architect creating concept drawings without providing a detailed design. It may look nice but if it can’t be turned into reality then it is impractical and a waste of resources.
- Helping you to focus on what works based on experience
Most consultants have worked across a range of industries and different situations which gives them a broader perspective of what works and what doesn’t. They can use this to guide your business and help filter the opportunities available to you.
- Better connect with your customers
Many businesses want to be all things to all potential customers as they don’t want to miss out on any potential sales. However, most marketing specialists will advise you to focus on your target market so that you can create a deeper connection with your customers. Once you have that you can then expand in a targeted way.
- Laser focus keeping you accountable
Many business owners, like any entrepreneur, can be distracted by new, shiny objects. Having a consultant who is outside the business and that you’ve committed to in terms of what you’re going to achieve each month often provides the focus that business owners need to stay on track.
- Big picture view of what’s possible
If you ask a digital marketing person what you should do, they’ll likely come up with a digital marketing solution. Ask an advertising executive what you should do and they’ll say advertise more. A marketing consultant is typically going to give you a more balanced view across a number of different options because they’ve had experience with many different strategies.
- Access to latest techniques and tips
Staying up-to-date with a range of techniques and tips is part of the territory when it comes to marketing consulting. Existing clients expect it and getting the next client depends on it.
- Emphasis on strategy over knee jerk reactions
While many businesses want ‘quick wins’ to justify their expenditure, a seasoned marketing consultant will usually advocate a mix of both so long as the short term steps are going to align with a longer term overall strategic focus.
- Everything gets written down and measured
You’ll want to have everything documented so you can see the value marketing consultants bring to your business but it also means that you’ll get in the habit of checking a few selected KPIs. This means you’ll be able to quickly gauge how your business is performing.
- Reporting systems are implemented
A marketing consultant will be able to guide you on what key metrics you need to be tracking. Data is important for checking that decisions are delivering as expected or at least tracking in the right direction.
- Trusted ally who you can sense check decisions with
With so many methods and platforms available to pick from and more coming to light all the time, it can get overwhelming trying to work out what strategies are right for your business. Having a trusted resource that you can explore different options with can save you money and boost sales by keeping you focused.
- Guide you towards the best methods and platforms to use
There are certain methods and platforms that suit particular types of businesses more than others. Choosing the wrong ones is not only a waste of time, effort and money, it can be disheartening and may cascade into other decisions that harm the growth of the business.
- Get better results from outsourced suppliers by providing comprehensive briefing documents
Getting a new website created or brochures written is not a straight forward task and having a comprehensive briefing document usually results in more streamlined project management (both in terms of time and cost) and means you’re more likely to get the result you want.
- Iterate to success
Just as a website is never really finished, marketing campaigns are ongoing learning experiences that can be continually improved upon to get better results. For example, split-testing different landing pages can add up to big differences in conversion rates and typically lead to new customer insights. Small tweaks can add up to a big difference over time. A marketing consultant knows what to look for and how you can improve.
- How to identify others to partner with
Partnerships can be a great way to build awareness and credibility but finding companies to partner with can feel confusing. A marketing consultant can help you plan a strategy to identify and approach potential partners.
- How to approach others to partner with you in a way that makes them want to team up and results in a win for your target audience
Most companies aren’t sitting around waiting for others to approach them about partnership opportunities, they are usually busy running their own business. To make it appealing its important to pitch an idea in a way that makes it appealing. A marketing consultant can help you do that.
Marketing Consultants & Branding
- Stop you using generic words that don’t land – eg better quality, better service
A marketing consultant will work with you to ensure that your branding is distinctive and is in line with what matters to your target market. While they may not necessarily be a branding expert, if required they can advise when to call in someone who is.
- Focus on what makes you unique
Marketing is about positioning your business so that it is unique when compared to your competition and ensuring that you are communicating that difference to your prospects and customers.
- Provide an understanding of the basics of branding and what key elements you need
Sometimes branding problems don’t automatically flag themselves as such. They may present as talking to your customers but feeling like no on is listening. Or they may present as confusion in the marketplace about what you’re really all about. A marketing consultant can help you determine what is missing with your branding to get cut through.
- How to align your brand values and position with your images, copy and overall promise
There are many elements of having a cohesive brand and if some of those aren’t aligned with each other then they typically lack punch and dilute their effectiveness. Sometimes it takes an independent review to really see what does and doesn’t match up.
- Build credibility and trust in your offering
Credibility can be borrowed (eg when businesses use the logos of other companies on their website), owned (you’ve built up a following based on your product or service and years in business) or earned (where you’ve won awards, been featured in media etc). A marketing consultant can help you to achieve all three through a strategic approach and leveraging one to enhance and build on the others.
Marketing Consultants & Content
- How to write better headlines
The aim of a headline is to create a connection and encourage the reader to continue so they can find out more. A marketing consultant can help you improve your engagement through creating better headlines. They can do this by working with you to create headlines, show you tools so that you can do it yourself or connect you with a copywriter so they can help you.
- Create articles that your prospects want to read
When it comes to creating articles to engage your prospects, it isn’t enough to just hit your word target or content quota. A marketing consultant can help you work out what sort of content you need to create and depending on your setup, write them for you or point you to content writers who can.
- Optimise your website for the keywords you have a chance at ranking well for
Your website is not going to rank well in the search engine results for every keyword that you want it to as your competitors are also probably looking to rank highly for those exact terms as well. However, it is possible to position your site around keywords that aren’t as competitive and a marketing consultant can guide you on how to do that in the context of your overall strategic goals and strengths.
- Create collateral that your prospects want to read
A marketing consultant will typically look at who you’re trying to engage with and what they value in order to determine the type and scope of collateral that you can create to engage with them. For example, creating an ebook for time-poor new mothers about child development is going to be less appealing to them than perhaps a checklist they can quickly scan or a series of audio recordings that they can listen to while doing something else.
- Set up a sales funnel that is logical and enticing for your prospects
Most small business owners are familiar with the concept of a sales funnel to filter prospects and progressively engage them in what their offering but aren’t always sure where to start and how to make it work for them. A marketing specialist can take you through how you can structure a funnel and maximize it so that it does what you want – filter qualified leads to your business.
- Create collateral for your sales funnel
Knowing what type of content your prospects want to receive is one thing, knowing how to create and package it is another. A marketing specialist can help guide the process and ensure that it fits into your overall branding and strategic goals.
- How to get backlinks to your website to improve your ranking in search engines
There are a number of strategies that you can adopt to improve your position in the search engines and attract prospects interested in what you’re offering. While there are no direct costs involved in improving your position this doesn’t mean there is no effort required. An experienced marketer will be able to guide you on what is important when it comes to ranking and what you need to avoid so that you don’t damage your reputation with spammy links.
Marketing Consultants & Email Marketing
- How to build your database
Having your own audience that you can communicate with whenever you want or need to is one of the best decisions that you can take when it comes to the longevity of your business. Maximising this isn’t usually as simple as asking people to ‘sign up for your newsletter’. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that those that sign up are primed to be responsive.
- Develop a relationship with your prospects
Having a large list of cold, disengaged names and email addresses is not going to help you to grow your businesses. A smaller, highly responsive list is more powerful and will typically lead to better returns. Developing an engaged list takes a concerted and planned approach and a marketing consultant can guide you on how to achieve that.
- Identify leads for your sales team to follow up with
When getting a new customer involves a sales conversation, the whole point of marketing is to qualify prospects so that your sales team can spend their time focusing on warm leads rather than diluting their effectiveness by trying to find those that might be interested. Having a well thought out sales funnel combined with a system to gauge how ready a prospect is to purchase can significantly reduce the time it takes to close a sale.
- What metrics are important to take notice of and learn from
If you’ve logged into any analytics platform then you’ll know how easy it is to get overwhelmed by the variety and complexity of numbers available. A marketing specialist can simplify this process by identifying the key metrics that you need to monitor with email marketing to ensure your business is on track.
Marketing Consultants & Your Website
- Review your website and compare it against your competitors
While most marketing specialists don’t build websites they can provide advice on how your site presents and compare it to your competitors in terms of clarity and design.
- Provide independent advice on your site and how it fits with your branding
Some business owners are so immersed in their business that they can’t really determine what is the best approach when it comes to their website. A marketing specialist is able to review your site from an outsider’s perspective and see how it fits in with your branding and strategic focus.
- How to track what is happening with your website and make sense of it
Bounce rate, unique visitors, bad referrers, exit pages, conversion rates, behavior flow and site sessions are some of the many metrics that you can track with your website analytics. All of them are interesting but not all are relevant and need constant monitoring. A marketing consultant can help you to work out what you need to keep track of.
Marketing Consultants & Advertising
- Understanding the importance of split-testing
“Always be testing” is a mantra that many marketing experts often repeat, it may even be something you find them muttering under their breath as they go about their daily lives as its so important for improving results. A marketing specialist with an understanding of advertising will always want to test different ads against each other to find the best combination that maximizes results.
- Picking the right ad platform
There is so much choice of where you can spend your advertising funds that getting the best platform for your business is an important first step. A marketing specialist can help you identify which platforms to use and how best to use them.
- How to tweak your ads to get better results
Ads, particularly online ads, are learning opportunities and a smart marketer will take the information learned through advertising and apply it to improve results and also apply those lessons in other areas of the business.
Marketing Consultants & Media
- How to pitch your story
Getting free publicity for your business can seem like something that happens for other ‘lucky’ business owners but not for you. Usually it comes down to how you pitch your story and whether what you have is newsworthy. A marketing specialist can guide you in how to approach media and assist you to find an angle that is more likely to resonate.
- How to find who to approach
The days of writing a press release and blasting it to everyone in the media with an email address are well and truly over. Marketing consultants can guide you on how you can approach media to build relationships that can yield results over many years.
- Get on different mediums
A full scale media assault warrants hiring a PR expert but if you’re wanting to take advantage of opportunities as they arise then there is a number of different tactics that you can employ to get noticed. A marketing consultant can help you work out which ones are likely to work best for your business and how to implement them.
Marketing Consultants & Social Media
- What platforms are best suited to your business
If you tried to be on every social media platform, you’d find that would soon become the focus of your business rather than delivering great products or services. A marketing specialist can help you think quality over quantity when it comes to social media.
- How to manage your posting so that it doesn’t take over your business
Its often quoted that you need to post at least 6 times per day on Twitter to get any kind of cut through because the news feed moves so fast. That either requires a constant focus or it requires finding a way to manage it so that at least some of the setup can be batched. A marketing consultant can guide you on the different tools available and what is going to be best for your needs.
- How to respond to negative comments
Having a social media framework for dealing with negative comments before they arise ensures that you’ll be able to minimize their impact. Marketing specialists are typically able to pull together a plan so you know what to do when problems occur.
- What sort of content to post, frequency and length
Posting only about your own business on social media may seem like a good idea, after all, people are following you because they like your business. However, while they may want to engage with you on social media that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want a constant stream of promotional or sales messages. The key word here is ‘engage’. Your followers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. What they are typically seeking is insights into the kind of content that you find interesting or competitions you’re running or insights they wouldn’t normally get. A marketing consultant with knowledge of social media can guide you on increasing your engagement with your prospects on social media.
- How to build followers
Relying on attracting followers on an incremental basis can work well for some businesses. Most need to take a more proactive approach. A marketing specialist can guide you on what you can do to quickly build an audience.
Marketing Consultants, Speaking & Events
- Creating a promotion plan to promote your events to increase success
Putting on an event and organizing everything is one part of the equation when it comes to making it a success. Having people attend is the other key element. Without a detailed and well thought out promotion plan you’re leaving the success of your event to chance and not making the most of the opportunity to engage with prospects and customers.
- How to use events as a lead in to other services or products
Events can be a great catalyst for both new customers and new collaborations with potential partners as it can shine a spotlight on your business and show what you do and how you can help. It is your opportunity to offer value and capture interest and then turn it into action. But that doesn’t just happen because you put on a function. Your approach needs to be designed with the end goals in mind and a marketing consultant can help you do that.
- How to get started as a speaker and why it is important
If done well, standing up in front of your target market and speaking to them about what you know is a fantastic way to position yourself as an expert and a trusted resource they can depend on. Getting targeted speaking opportunities and making the most of them can seem like a puzzle that has too many unknowns. Marketing consultants can help you solve the speaking puzzle.
There are many more ways that marketing consultants can assist your business to grow, many of which will be peculiar to your business needs and opportunities. However, not all consultants will be able to do all of the 50 ways listed.
To find what you want, do your research. Once you’ve found a knowledgeable marketing consultant then you can discover how they can assist your business. And if you don’t find what you want, keep looking!