A marketing consultant role is considered one of the most important roles in the marketing industry in recent years. The marketing consultant role can be part of a consultancy firm or working as an independent consultant.

Fundamentally, the role of a marketing consultant is considered as a highly professional advisor and strategist who can assist the marketing department or agency to achieve the business goals.

What is The Meaning of Marketing Consultant?

A marketing consultant meaning is defined commercially as an external advisor with advanced marketing experience who provides extensive marketing services such as market research, marketing strategy, marketing optimization, and marketing analytics.

A marketing consultant is an external advisor with advanced marketing experience who provides extensive marketing services.

The marketing consultant allows the companies to establish an effective strategic approach backed with extensive analysis and data-driven framework. In addition, the consultant provides the ability to integrate the branding strategy and design the essential guidelines for marketing activities as well as a detailed marketing plan and channel optimization tactics.

The Story and Definitions

Marketing consultancy is a recent term that started to gain more attraction in the last few years. In the past, the marketing consultant role has been commonly used by management consulting firms. With the rise of the Internet and IT solutions, management consultation firms started to expand their services to include marketing consultancy as well as IT consulting. The term has been implemented and merged with sales under the service category “Marketing and Sales Consultation”. However, marketing and advertising agencies have been a key competitor and developed their services to include sophisticated consultation services for their customers.

Eventually, the marketing consultation have been shaped across the years and customized according to the business needs. Agencies have defined the term to match the advertising and branding services, while consultation firms relied on strategic and research side of the marketing consultation to help in adding value to the management consultation services. These two different approaches provided inconsistent path for marketing consultation services. Apparently, this led to unclear definition of the functionality and roles of marketing consultancy.

With the arrival of digital marketing to the scene, the marketing consultancy started to evolve as a term. The marketing started to move from the phase of the hypothesis to practices. Digital marketing provided the technology to the industry and reshaped the marketing industry. The tech capabilities and data became the cornerstone of marketing strategies and activities. Therefore, consultation tasks started to evolve to include digital marketing technology and data analytics.

The Rise of Digital Marketing Consultant Role

The evolution of the digital world provided a diversity of channels and multiplied the platforms. Accordingly, a generation of experts started to arise in every category from social media experts to PPC, SEO, and content geeks. Over the years, the consultation capabilities started to break into different categories based on the marketing channels, automation software, and technology.

This massive expansion has pushed the job of digital marketing consultants into a highly sophisticated and complex level of functionality and profession. Practically, it is hard to find a 360 degree of digital marketing consultant who has a deep understanding of strategic marketing, and at the same time he has hands-on experience in different digital channels such as performance, organic, and campaign optimization. These capabilities require professionals who had a technical background with optimization, as well as experience in managing end to end marketing projects for several brands and industries. Those are the people who can gain the title of an independent digital marketing consultant.

When and Why to Hire a Marketing Consultant?

Mainly, companies tend to hire a marketing consultant in order to help in gaining an efficient analysis of the market and the consumer. In some cases, the companies are more eager for a third eye perspective to review the marketing strategy and campaign performance. The needs could vary based on the nature of the business, industry, and company size.  

While the company needs for consultancy could be different in each case, the marketing consultant skills and capabilities could vary based on his field of expertise.

Startups and small businesses

Small businesses and startups cannot usually afford to hire full-time marketing professionals and tend to hire fresh graduates they are able to afford. The digital marketing consultant can help the startup with their mission in setting up their marketing strategy.

  • Provide the marketing experience required to establish the brand in the targeted market
  • Assist in building the business module by providing the market research and marketing strategic approach
  • Consult on the marketing channels and campaign tactics
  • Assist in designing the consumer journey and product development
  • Setup the marketing channels, process, and tech stack

Medium size companies and brands

Mid-size businesses and firms usually have dedicated marketing teams as well as marketing agencies. Eventually, there are always gaps in the marketing performance and evaluation process required. Hiring a consultant can help companies with the following key missions:

  • Provide an external vision and assist in reviewing the internal challenges
  • Allow the organization to indicate the gaps and the opportunities
  • Assist in the restructure plan and optimizing the process efficiency
  • Advise the top management on the marketing strategy
  • Provide a roadmap to improve the marketing performance and ROI
  • Allow the company to benefit from specialized expertise that is not available within the team
  • Present a new perspective of the customer persona and marketplace
  • Run advanced marketing analysis and help in setting up automated reporting and marketing dashboards.

Independent vs Freelance Marketing Consultant

While those two terms might be similar in many cases but in the market, there could be some differences between independent marketing consultant and freelance marketing consultant.

An Independent marketing consultant is considered as a consultancy firm with a well-established process and fully integrated capabilities on board. The marketing consultant has a more solid business background and the ability to cover 360 degrees of marketing consultancy services. They have their own personal brand, list of services, resources, and hands-on experience in end to end project.

A freelance marketing consultant is an external provider of marketing service who could be specialized in one or several specific marketing channels. This could vary from SEO consultants to Social media, PPC, Content marketing, and more. Freelance consultants tend to work on a project basis and provide their services through channels such as Upwork and LinkedIn.  

Marketing consultant skills

The marketing consultant is required to possession 5 main skills to be able to serve the role effectively. 

  • Understanding the market: The marketing consultant role requires in-depth experiences with the target market and professional skills in conducting effective market research. Understanding the market is not limited to previous experience, but it also expands to include the ability to run competitive analysis, data analysis and brand analysis.
  • Understanding the client: Conducting an efficient analysis of the customer persona is an essential key for successful marketing consulting. The consultant should be breakdown the customer segmentation and extract the patterns.
  • Strategic thinking: Aligning to the business objectives is the first pillar of the marketing strategy development. The foundation of a successful marketing strategy consists of the ability to plan marketing activities, design the process and establishing the KPIs. The marketing consultant should have the ability to effectively set the marketing tactics that fits the marketing objectives including inbound marketing, lead generation, retargeting and retention, growth hacking and guerilla marketing.
  • Mastering the marketing channels: While digital marketing channels expands into several categories and functionality, it is essential for the digital marketing consultant to master the most essential channels. Eventually, the channels must include the organic channels like SEO, Social Media, Content marketing and paid channels such as Paid search (PPC), Display, Paid social (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn). Additionally, there are several main channels to add such as Email marketing, Video marketing, and influencer marketing.
  • Dominating the technology: Digital marketing is operated by digital platforms which requires the ability to manage, optimize and audit. The key to provide a professional marketing consultation relies in the ability to analyze and dig into to platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook Advertising, Social media and SEO tools. The digital marketing consultant is required to be able to audit and set optimization for either planned or running campaigns on each platform. In recent years, the tech abilities expanded to include marketing automation clouds, AI, CRMs and CMS.
  • Managing expectation and performance: Data-driven strategy and campaigns are the main demand in the business scene. Establishing reliable KPIs and data reporting is considered the main framework of marketing consultation. Advanced marketing analytics skills and data analysis is a must for any consultant.

Marketing Consultant Responsibilities and Process

According to Harvard Business Review, consultancy is more than giving advice. In a review of the definition of consultancy, they indicated a broad range of activities and different practices. Initially, the key responsibilities of the consultant consist of several layers of commitments, starting with advising all the way to the sustainability of process and ongoing progress.

  1. Providing extensive research and insights about the market, consumer, competition, and brand position.
  2. Solving marketing challenges and creating effective marketing solutions.
  3. Identifying the gaps and investigating the marketing performance using auditing and data analysis approaches
  4. Aligning the marketing objectives to the business goals and optimizing the process and framework to match the resources
  5. Assisting with execution and the implementation of channels and campaign optimization
  6. Building the data-driven process and automated tracking process to sustain the corrective action.
  7. Facilitating marketing learning and training the team on how to resolve similar problems in the future.
  8. On-going support and optimization to improve marketing ROI and strategy optimization.

In conclusion, digital marketing consultancy services are mainly focusing on improving the marketing process in order to sustain a solid roadmap of profit and marketing ROI. It is more about answering the business questions of when and why the company needs to design their marketing activities. It is a more in-depth process than setting up a campaign plan or marketing platform.

Published by Yasser Ahmad

Yasser Ahmad is an independent digital marketing consultant and marketing strategist with a Master's degree in Data Analytics & Marketing. Yasser is a certified member of the CIM and holds and has over 16 years of experience in managing marketing strategies and consulting brands in EMEA, USA, and APAC. Specialized in Marketing Analytics, MarTech, Growth Hacking, Automation, and Performance Marketing.