How to Become a Marketing Consultant

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Many companies count on marketing consultants to establish their brands. The same can be said even of smaller entrepreneurs, who often have too much on their plate just trying to run the daily operations. A marketing consultant can prove to be a worthwhile addition to the team in both scenarios.

Whether you’re planning a career shift to marketing or you want to upgrade from being an employee to your own boss, the following tips can help you become a marketing consultant with flair and confidence.

1. Understand the Job

Just because you have experience in marketing doesn’t mean you know everything about consultancy. Marketing consultants are professionals who offer their expert knowledge and skills to help businesses achieve their goals. They usually work with these companies for a fixed period, helping them craft their brand’s message and identity, planning their marketing campaigns, and defining the avenues leading to their target audience.

As soon as a campaign begins, a marketing consultant will also track its progress, implement changes when needed, and ensure that the right results are attained. Other tasks a marketing consultant performs for their client company include:

  • Forging connections with both new and existing customers
  • Addressing PR or marketing errors to reduce potential damage to the company’s reputation
  • Ensuring that the entire campaign aligns with the company’s vision
  • Optimizing all online marketing content for searchability (SEO)
  • Handling the company’s websites and email accounts

2. Develop the Right Skill Set

Knowing the job of a marketing consultant is not where it ends. You also have to know the necessary skills to help you thrive in this business.

Communication

First and foremost, you need to be a good copywriter, meeting facilitator, public speaker, and negotiator. Otherwise, your coworkers and target audience will find it challenging to understand you, leading to missed targets and unmet goals. 

Organization

Organization skills help marketing consultants run complex campaigns at high efficiency. This means assigning tasks to team members, setting deadlines and goals, and managing multiple campaigns at once. With these skills, your team can stay on track with various responsibilities, project schedules, and team goals that can be met within the deadline.  

Innovation

One of the most crucial skills you’ll need as a marketing consultant is creativity. You probably know it’s what most of the job boils down to – the ability to develop out-of-the-box campaigns that truly rouse the interest of an audience. This is necessary for two reasons: it allows your client’s product to stand out and helps the team come up with effective solutions to their problems.

Teamwork 

To be a good team player, you have to master your collaborative skills, including gathering ideas and information from various sources and being able to tie them all together. You will find yourself being the middleman between your client company and other people who play a role in your marketing campaign (writers, videographers, graphic designers, etc.).

While it can be hard to listen to different inputs at once, it’s just one of the things you have to master as a marketing consultant.

Flexibility

Marketing consultants may work on multiple projects for different companies simultaneously, so you need to be highly flexible in your approach. Sometimes, you’ll be asked to make major changes in the middle of a project. The faster you can adjust to different work demands, environments, and personalities, the more you will succeed as a marketing consultant.

3. Define Your Objectives and How You Want to Achieve Them

If you’re keen on starting your own full-time marketing consultancy business, you have to be specific about your plans. For example, what are you looking to achieve, and how do you intend to achieve those goals? If the thought paralyzes you, just get going anyway. You can always come back and make changes later.

Begin by writing down why you want to be a marketing consultant and what makes you a great one. Also, list the clients or industries you want to work in and how much of your time you can devote to them. Being true to yourself will help you decide which clients and projects to take on, with the desire to boost your own consulting goals. 

4. Be a Specialist

Any successful marketing consultant will tell you that focusing on a particular niche is better than being a jack of all trades. When you work in every industry, you will spread your knowledge and experience too thin, diminishing your ability to deliver results.

For example, if you had a heart problem, would you go to a general practitioner? Of course, you’ll want no less than the best cardiologist in town, and there’s good reason for that. This specialist has acquired in-depth, proven expertise in the complicated field of cardiology, as opposed to a GP who mainly treats the day-to-day ailments of patients. You don’t want your doctor to be able to treat everything. You just want them to treat your heart.

It’s the same way for companies looking to hire a marketing consultant. They want someone with hyperfocused skills in the specific marketing area they need help in. If they’re looking for someone to improve their SEO, it won’t matter if you’re also great with social media ads, content marketing, influencer marketing, offline marketing, and all the rest. They just want you to be a whiz in SEO.

According to experts, you can have only up to two areas of specialization to become a superstar consultant, which is also how you attract the best clients.

5. Keep Growing Your Knowledge Base

Nothing is constant in this world, and that could be an understatement in marketing, where anything and everything can be volatile. Best practices evolve often, and the industry expects you to stay in step all the time.

Train yourself to keep digging for shifts and updates and how to harmonize with every change. Invest time and money attending workshops, refresher courses, conferences – anything that will keep you current. The idea is never to stop learning, or you will quickly outgrow your use to your present and potential clients.

Follow reputable blogs that publish news in the marketing sphere or join forums where top marketers talk about the most recent developments. 


Join the American Marketing Association. 


The Marketing Brew sends marketing news right to your inbox.

6. Be Ready for Anything

Ideally, consultants offer advice and direction while the team translates the plan into action. The lines aren’t always well-defined in the real world, and you can easily end up at the center of the execution process. And that’s okay, especially if you’re just starting.

When your client needs help with groundwork, it usually pays to oblige at the right price. You will surely benefit from the versatility you will acquire from this type of client experience.

If they’re asking for help that is not within your scope, invest in a team with the right mix of talent and skills. Building a team is the best way to expand your consultancy into a full-service marketing agency. You can provide strategic oversight while your team gets down and dirty.

7. Grow Your Network

Your network is essential for two key reasons: it helps you build and maintain a stellar reputation, and it is a growing source of leads for your consultancy business. This network includes current and former clients and other marketing consultants as well. 

Social media is the go-to channel for branding and networking. The goal is to locate and hook up with other consultants in your niche and slowly increase your following with every client and project you take on. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are social media’s heavy hitters and deserve your attention.

8. Market Yourself

As a marketing consultant, your main job is to market your client’s products or services, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do the same for yourself. The better you are at marketing yourself and your combined skills, the higher your value soars and the more high-paying clients you attract.

Self-marketing isn’t all that easy, though. You’ll need to strike a balance between selling your services and bragging about your abilities. It’s a sensitive balance, but you can achieve it with time and practice.

9. Decide on Your Price and Pricing Structure

When potential clients approach you to enquire about your services, the first thing they usually want to know is your fee. Always be prepared to answer clearly and concisely. Most marketing consultants charge their clients an hourly, a monthly, or a fixed per-project rate.

Per-hour charging is easiest to calculate and quote, but if you go by month, you will have to sit down and develop a set of services that you can propose to your prospect. Discuss the number of work hours you have to allot per month, then calculate the price based on your preset hourly rate.

If you agree to get paid per project, you must review the client’s requirements and expectations and consider their location, type of business, and financial capacity. Calculate your total estimated costs, add in your desired profit, and be willing to negotiate. Over time, you will develop an instinct for knowing how low you can reasonably go.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a marketing consultant can be rewarding in many aspects, but take your time developing your brand as you tackle your projects and build your clientele.

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