Marketing consulting is considered as professional services provided by experienced and qualified experts in the field of marketing. While marketing teams and agencies are usually focused on implementation and execution, the marketing consultants are specialized in strategy, auditing, and analytics.
Eventually, there are many myths and misunderstandings about marketing consulting services and the real value of it for companies. In the USA and UK markets, marketing consulting is a well-established term and commonly hired to consult internal teams on marketing strategies and expansions to new markets. Yet, in other parts of the world, the role of marketing consultation is still not clear. The most common myths about consulting services are that it is highly advanced or mainly technical.
In order to understand what marketing consultancy can offer, we need first to outline the module.
Understanding Marketing Consulting Model
Fundamentally, the consulting model is interconnected with the business plan on several levels. Firstly, the market research is a key stage for understanding the marketplace and the consumer. Setting the right prospectives and collecting useful insights is the corner stone in launching the brand and designing the business strategy. Contributions of marketing to the organizational structure and infrastructure are crucial in a digital-first world. Furthermore, the businesses are moving to customer-centric models which requires building an effective customer analysis and connect the online journey of the customer with the customer relationship data.
As a result, the consulting model has effective contributions to the business model. Using advanced consulting methods and marketing tactics is a cornerstone for building effective KPIs and a roadmap. In recent years, marketing consultants are becoming a highly reliable approach that can work with any business module, from startups to medium size and big brands.
The Main Benefits of Marketing Consulting Services
Marketing consulting as a service enables businesses to access highly advanced marketing knowledge on reliable terms. Businesses hire marketing consulting professionals usually based on urgent needs and short time notice.
It is drastically different than researching for an agency or marketing executive since the commitment here is considered a long-term one. The type of commitment with consultants allows a considerably easy process of shortlisting and selection due to the type of agreement and results-driven conditions. The top benefits of marketing consulting services can be summarized in the following key features.
Businesses are always searching for highly specialized opinions and expert assistance to not just accomplish the task but also to provide a competitive edge in the market. Consulting services are always required to add value to the brand and marketing activities and not just to compliment it. The main benefit of marketing consultants is their ability to provide an expert vision and prevent marketing mistakes.
The expansion of the marketing consultancy role has been subject to different prospective and offerings. Agencies provided the services based on their calibers and customized the services based on the client’s needs. However, the complexity of digital marketing created a major demand for advisors in all the digital channels as well as platforms. Gradually, a new generation of marketing consultants started to join the force as freelance experts or sub-contractors. As a result, marketing consulting has been a specialized role conducted by highly experienced experts in certain marketing channel such as social media, or even technically specialized consultants in a platform such as HubSpot, MailChimp or Google Search Ads.
Marketing consulting is an external resource that brings new opinions to the table of stakeholders. The third-party intervention can provide new interpretations of the situation and the marketing problems. An experienced consultant has the ability to demonstrate accurate researches and provide an extensive hypothesis. Basically, being an external resource allows the marketing consultant to investigate more and to expand the analysis.
Eventually, the role of marketing consulting services has become an approach to boost a certain strategic tactic. In some cases, the consultancy can be a project-based or retainer or even straightforward to profit and KPIs. This flexibility in hiring and managing the collaboration has changed the marketing departments to tab into more bold approaches and new verticals of technology and channels. Furthermore, it is easier to evaluate consultants by reviewing their work history as well as conducting test drives to explore their abilities in solving current problems.
Unlike full-time marketers, consultants are engaged on a temporary basis to carry out specific projects. This provides a higher level of flexibility and advances to consulting services. There are different models of commitments which the business can choose from such as the hourly rate or on a project basis. In some cases, it can value-based model which allows companies to have efficient budget control. In addition, consultants are more experienced than others and their contributions are highly concentrated which can save the cost of overheads. Finally, consulting service is a plug and play solution which can be hired on short notice and according to very specific contract conditions.
While hiring a marketing agency or marketing professional requires setting specific responsibilities and budget in advance, consultants are more like strategic partners and their key role is to investigate ongoing challenges. Traditionally, the marketing department requires new hires to catch up with new technologies and to fulfill different tasks. Consultants provide more capabilities in testing marketing technology and defining the accurate direction without the need for experiential journeys. As a result, marketing consulting allows a customizable approach without the need to sign a full commitment or spending budget on uncertain tracks.
The customized scale is another major benefit of marketing consulting services for all types of companies. While medium size companies have an established brand and marketing approach, startups are looking for experts to help in setting up the strategy and the brand. Marketing consulting services can engage with different types of companies and brands based on their scale, budget, and market size. However, well-known consulting firms are more into big accounts but independent and freelancer marketing consultants are usually flexible and able to provide customized services.
Marketing spend control
Marketing ROI and Return on Ad Spend ROAS are definitely a crucial factor to assess marketing performance. There are always complicated challenges in turning every aspect of marketing activity into straightforward ROI calculations. The marketing consultants are commonly involved to design accurate and reliable metrics to track performance across all the marketing channels. The main benefit of hiring a marketing consultant to design the reports and dashboards is that they are external resources with a set of solid standards in tracking and analysis. Accordingly, the consultants can help in solving the common conflict between marketing departments and senior management. Additionally, a key role of the marketing consulting is to audit the paid channels and provide recommendations on the channels mix as well as the optimization process of digital advertising platforms such as Google Search Ads, Facebook Ads, Display, Programmatic, and other paid social media channels.
Consulting and Marketing Transformation
Transforming the marketing role in business is the core value behind the consultation process. Primarily, the concept of marketing transformation is commonly connected to the process of digital transformation in business. Yet, it is very important to take into perspective the role of marketing transformation in revamping the marketing department. Marketing consulting is one of the most effective approaches in evaluating and planning a marketing transformation. Eventually, the consulting here could include several tasks such as marketing automation plan, marketing structure, marketing tech stack assessment, data analysis framework and most importantly coaching and training.
Marketing Consulting at Early Stage
While some companies would be only seeking a marketing consulting service when they are facing crucial problems with their marketing performance, consulting is more important during the early stage of establishing marketing activities. Traditionally, the consultants can offer critical contributions such as extensive market research and analysis to help in setting the business objectives. In addition, the great value of a marketing consultant relies on setting up the strategic approach for digital channels and branding. These consulting implementations in the early stage can help in providing the initial business strategy. As a result, the marketing consulting module is a built-in component of the business foundation.
Apparently, businesses tend to start building marketing teams from scratch and depend on hiring a marketing director or a digital agency that can run all these tasks. The main drawback of this approach remains in the control of results. The in-house marketing department is usually integrated within the organization which adds multiple layers of bureaucracy and prevents marketing in some cases from providing radical changes. Another drawback of this model is the slow process of hiring full-time talents or tapping into new areas and prospective outside the business model.
While the digital marketing agency model might seem to be more flexible and easier to integrate, the agency is still considered to work based on quantity, not quality. The agency model is highly concerned about execution and reporting rather than investigation and generating knowledge back to the business model. There is always a gap in the learning and problem-solving methods due to the conflict of interest. The commercial methods of the agency are generating profit based on the size of the account and service fees not based on future opportunities. Therefore, the majority of marketing know-how and technical experience will remain in the hands of the agency, and only some of the strategic knowledge with be revealed in monthly meetings and reports.
This leads us back to the early stage where marketing consulting can assist businesses in acquiring not just solid insights but also to design the marketing blueprint. The major benefit provided by marketing consulting is alignment. As marketing consultants work independently, they are able to investigate properly in their research and find the best tactics which can serve the business objectives.
Marketing Consulting: A Problem-Solving Method
While marketing consulting service is highly valuable in setting up the marketing foundation, typically senior management tends to involve consulting when they are facing a major problem or need. Eventually, this is the most common case of the requests I receive as a marketing consultant. However, in this case, the needs are more focused on a specific channel, technical or related to a specific regional market. In order to provide an overview, we will go over some of the most common issues:
- Underperforming marketing: One of the regular problems that could involve several aspects. Initially, the most popular factor is the decline in leads and ineffective conversion rate. In other cases, the problem relies on generating quality traffic for the website and across digital media channels.
- Establishing a new market: The problem of expanding to a new market requires a local expert. It is associated with competitive analysis and gaining an understanding of the target consumer.
- High cost per acquisition: A common problem that usually facing senior management and the marketing directors. The paid channels’ efficiency and campaign planning are among the top factors that affect the marketing dollar and ROI. It crucial issues for companies who are heavily spending on Google Ads and other paid channels such as Display and Facebook Ads. Therefore, the issue for management is to audit the marketing channels effectively and enhance the lower-funnel metrics such as CPC, CPA, ROAS, and CLV.
- Social Media Marketing: It is commonly known that social media is a highly competitive marketing channel. Businesses tend to investigate the performance of their social media channels. This problem is usually associated with the need to increase the reach and improve brand communication.
- SEO and Organic Traffic: The need for a higher rank in organic results brought SEO into one of the top priorities in marketing activities. Companies are always facing high competition in the organic rank and looking for experienced SEO consulting to achieve the most optimal results.
- Technical: Commonly, technical problems can vary from simple troubleshooting and installing a tracking pixel to complex marketing technology integrations. Technical consulting is not necessarily conducted by technology partners. In some cases, a marketing consultant is required for a massive audit or setting up a marketing automation plan. One of the major needs is conducting research of the marketing tech stack and providing effective recommendations of tools that fit with the marketing needs.
- Marketing Analytics: Collecting and analyzing marketing data is one of the most critical problems for companies. Senior managers are always having issues with monitoring marketing performance and tracking data. As companies moving towards data-driven marketing, the main concern is not only in collecting reports but also to hire consulting services who can provide them with sleek and highly reliable dashboards. While it seems like a straightforward GA type of tracking but yet combining all channels and running sophisticated analysis requires a professional marketing consultant. Read more about this topic: The Foundation of Marketing Analytics.
After reviewing the most common issue that requires marketing consulting service, it is important to draw a line between focusing on the problem and evaluating the strategy of marketing. The main issue in approaching very specific issues such as SEO or social media is that marketing is about building strategic practices and not divided actions or channels.
Fundamentally, consulting requires a customized investigation which includes not just improving social media for instance, but also questions the short-term and long-term impact on the business objectives and brand image. The marketing consulting model enables companies to investigate not just the results but to also review the strategic approach and set the right direction. Furthermore, unlike regular freelancers who are hired to complete a task, the consulting in some cases can override the request by providing new insights.
Establishing a collaborative relationship with consulting services requires some understanding of the consultancy working methods and environment. Essentially, the characterization of consultants is different from marketing teams in terms of commitment and tasks. Unlike the marketing team, consultants are hired to provide an edge and major leap in marketing efficiency. Therefore, marketing consultancy services are not always luxury or highly strategic services. Marketing consulting services are an essential stage in setting up the business model.