Marketing Consultants: Do You Need One as a Small Business Owner?
Updated: Jun 10, 2020
With years of executive experience, I know when you manage or own a business you are bombarded by phone calls and emails from random people promising you the secret trick to optimized SEO, the best way to get more followers, tips on how to improve your email marketing, and everything else marketers can promise you. It can be confusing and daunting trying to figure out if you need a marketing consultant for your small business. Keep on reading to find out if you need a marketing consultant and inform yourself about the industry before hiring one. We are going to cover the following topics in this article:
What is a Marketing Consultant?
Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." The term developed from the original meaning which referred literally to going to market with goods for sale. A marketing consultant is an outside advisor who can help implement marketing strategies to improve your sales and brand awareness by creating a marketing message and implementing a strategy with a marketing mix to access a particular target market. Some marketing consultants specialize in certain aspects of marketing including digital marketing, content marketing, public relations, graphic design, strategies and campaigns, and SEO. A marketing consultant can work for an advertising agency, consulting firms, or be self-employed.
Services Offered by Marketing Consultants
Many services are offered by marketing consultants. As a small business owner or a start-up, you may need to find someone who specialized in brand awareness. Brand awareness refers to the extent to which customers can recall or recognize a brand. Brand awareness is a key consideration in consumer behavior, advertising management, brand management, and strategy development. Having brand awareness in your target market will allow you to have a long-lasting relationship with your clients or customers. Think about when you see the checkmark or hear a jingle on the tv without seeing the logo or hearing the company name, but you know what company it is, this is brand awareness. Small businesses and start-ups will not be able to achieve the level of brand awareness that some of the larger corporations have, however they can achieve it within their local community or target market. Here is a list of some services offered by marketing consultants:
Digital Marketing including Social Media Marketing, Search Ads, Email Marketing, Blogging: is the component of marketing that utilizes the internet and online-based digital technologies such as desktop computers, mobile phones, and other digital media and platforms to promote products and services.
Print Advertising: is the practice of advertising using newspapers, magazines, direct mail including postcards, flyers, tri-folds or any other printed media.
Public Relations: is the practice of deliberately managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): this is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.
How Much Should I Pay?
When hiring a marketing consultant you should always create a budget or have an idea of what you are willing to spend on the hourly cost of the marketing consultant and any additional marketing or advertising dollars you will need to invest. The marketing consultant should be able to give you a comprehensive marketing solution that includes what your ad spend should be. This will include costs of online ads, social media advertising, and placements in print. According to Thumbtack, an online job posting board, the average cost of a marketing consultant is between $75-150 per hour. This all depends on what level of experience you need and the overhead of the consultant. Some consultants, like me, also offer a monthly service fee which is inclusive of certain services. These types of "bundles" can save you money in the long run. You will have the benefit of having a marketing team or consultant without having high employee costs or worry about employee retention.
Can I do It On My Own?
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you hire a marketing consultant:
Did you recently start your business or want to increase revenue?
Do you have the knowledge to handle website creation, social media, graphic design, and other marketing activities?
If you know marketing, do you have the time to handle marketing your business?
Will you be able to respond quickly to customers and clients via social media and website inquiries?
These questions are important to know the answers to. If you recently started your business or want to increase revenue, investing in a marketing consultant can help you do this. If they are not effective or you do not see the results you want, then you can terminate your contract or services and try a new one. This is much harder to do with employees. Not wasting time training yourself or learning social media, website design or other aspects of marketing can allow you to concentrate on other important aspects of your business. If you do not know marketing strategy or social media platforms it could be a good investment for you. If you know and you think you can handle the marketing of your business, double-check if you have the time. Marketing is analytical, creative and responsive. You need to ensure that you have time to answer your customers' questions, reply to comments on posts, and answer web inquiries. Customers want interaction quickly. This is imperative to the success of your online business. If you want to concentrate on other aspects of the business hiring a consultant could create room for you to expand your business in other ways.
What Are You Trying to Achieve?
Do you have specific goals in mind for your business? Do you want to increase leads, the customer in your brick & mortar store, have more bookings, increase your client or patient base, book more of a particular service? Asking yourself what you want and setting realistic goals for yourself will help you when navigating through the world of marketing.
Some consultants will promise you a 300% ROI, or the secret to SEO, or an increase of 30% of bookings in 30 days. Let me tell you something, these are all marketing tactics. No one can guarantee you returns, unless they are so saturated in the market, know about all of your competitors and your specific industry. These are mostly agencies which will cost you far more than the cost of a consultant. Falling into these traps of over-promises will most likely make you feel unsatisfied with the services you are receiving. At that point, you may be stuck in a contract, or have already spent thousands of dollars on fees alone. Marketing is a try, try and try again business. With time and trials, a consultant can find you the perfect mix of media or social media that will help your business increase, but this does not happen overnight. Marketing is a constant analysis of analytics and strategies to see what works and what doesn't. Creating a realistic expectation of the results of the marketing and constant communication between you and your consultant is the most important aspect of hiring someone. Try to find a consultant who is honest, trustworthy and reliable who is interested in you and your business, not just themselves.
Questions You Should Ask a Marketing Consultant
Now that you have decided you may want to move forward with hiring a marketing consultant, you have to be prepared when discussing with them. Here are some good questions to ask during your discovery calls with consultants:
Do you work alone or do you have a team that will be handling my account? If so who will it be? Asking this question is important because you will be able to know how much the consultant will be involved in the day to day of our account. If you would prefer a more personalized approach sometimes it is good to have a consultant who works on their own.
Do you specialize in any particular industry? It is good if a consultant is specializing in a certain industry, but not always necessary. Some consultants have the bandwidth to be able to have an interest in many industries.
What kind of marketing skills do you personally possess? Such as social media, graphic design, copywriting, public relations. It is important to know this question because if they have a team of people they could just be managing them, but if they need to hunker down for some reason on your account you want to make sure it is all hands on deck.
Do you have any specific ideas or strategies right now on how you can help me achieve my goal? When asking this question you will be able to see if the consultant is willing to give you off the cuff suggestions for your business. As you know, their time is valuable, but they should be willing to give you some suggestions during your meeting.
How do you charge? Knowing what they will charge and how is important to see if it works with your business and budget. You could have a fantastic call to find out the consultant is way out of your budget, or you are not able to bring them on due to their restrictive pricing.
When can I expect a proposal for services? Some consultants do not create proposals, but make sure you receive one. The scope of work should be a part of the proposal so you know exactly what you are getting. Ensure that the scope of work and pricing is transparent.
Choosing to hire a marketing consultant can be a confusing task, however, it doesn't have to be. Follow these steps to find out if you should be hiring a marketing consultant for your small business.
About Elyshia Schemmel
Elyshia Schemmel is the Founder and Consultant of Easily Incorporated Consulting. She specializes in offering simple, effective and affordable marketing solutions to small business owners. Located in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida, she offers her clients customized comprehensive marketing solutions that fit within their budgets.
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