You’re considering the services of a small business marketing consultant, but are you making the right choice? Hiring a marketing consultant might feel like a huge step for your business. I prefer to see it as a smart step for your business. There is a lot to consider when hiring a marketing consultant and together we are going to explore:
- What a consultant does
- When a consultant is needed
- The pros and cons
- The skills you should be looking out for
I am of course a small business marketing consultant myself. But not to worry, I will approach this topic with nothing but honesty and experience to produce a well-balanced piece… with no bias at all!
(Well maybe just a little…).
If you find yourself struggling to produce a consistent and confident marketing strategy, if you’re struggling to dedicate the time for marketing, or if you’re struggling with converting and generating leads, then unfortunately you’re struggling to provide the marketing your business deserves. A small business marketing consultant can help you here. So sit back, relax, as I take you through everything you need to consider…
What is a small business marketing consultant?
A small business marketing consultant is a professional that specialises in reviewing, tweaking and creating marketing strategies specifically for small businesses. A good consultant will produce a marketing strategy that delivers credible results that you and the consultant can both track.
However, please do not mistake a marketing consultant for a wizard. You will need to have patience, you will need to commit to your marketing and you will need to manage your expectations. Yes, you should see and expect results, but it is unlikely a marketing consultant will catapult your business to the top instantly with a flick and a swish of a magic wand.
What work will they do?
An experienced small business marketing consultant will start by seeking as much information about your business as possible. They will combine their own research and most importantly conduct a research discussion with you, the business owner, to determine exactly what your business needs.
Once this has been identified the marketing consultant should provide you with a marketing plan from which either you or the consultant can start working from.
What if I already know where my business needs marketing support
Great! This makes the work of a marketing consultant a little more simple. The consultant will assess your request and if the marketing falls within their skillset they can produce the work for you. If the work falls outside of the consultant’s skillset they will often have a good relationship with other industry professionals who can carry out the work on their behalf.
Do I really need a small business marketing consultant?
Your business needs marketing. Marketing needs time. You need a small business marketing consultant if you are struggling to find the time needed to develop and implement your marketing campaigns.
If you do have the time to dedicate to marketing then you will also need strong marketing skills to correctly carry out the marketing work. If you do not have the marketing skills you may find that your efforts are going to waste. Time is precious, so stop wasting it trying to do your own marketing. It could a lot more efficient to bring in the expertise of a small business marketing consultant.
If you have found the time, got the skillset and still not achieving success, your still failing to generate leads, then guess what… you need a marketing consultant. A consultant can help you develop a marketing strategy that will differentiate you from the competition, promote your USPs and start generating the leads and purchases your business ought to have.
What about a specialist freelancer or an employee instead?
This entirely depends on your business. If you know exactly what you need and the task is niche, then you may benefit from hiring a specialist freelancer. There are plenty of great freelance sites out there such as PeoplePerHour, Fiverr and Bidvine which will help you find the right person.
But don’t rule out a consultant just yet. It is easy to overlook the possibility that a consultant may well have the specialist skills you’re looking for. A small business marketing consultant will also have the ability to look at the bigger picture. It is rare for a business to have marketing channels that work in isolation, so having a professional who understands the entire marketing function is a huge positive.
What about hiring an employee? Hiring a marketing employee is a viable option that will bring you loyalty and focus. They will inevitably embed themselves within your business and develop a better understanding of your business, more so than a freelance specialist or a marketing consultant. This is a great positive, however, you will sacrifice a lot of flexibility when hiring a full-time marketing professional. You simply cannot pick and choose when to work with an employee like you can with a specialist or a marketing consultant.
I truly believe that you should only be hiring a full-time marketing professional if you are certain your business will need full-time marketing activity, consistently, over the next few years. Do you really need to pay and commit to a member of staff to conduct 40 hours of work each week? Hiring is costly, risky, time consuming and is a long-term commitment. Don’t forget, you will also have to manage this employee.
What are the benefits of hiring a small business marketing consultant
Your business gets all that experience
A small business marketing consultant will bring a wealth of experience to your business. Experiences from their own working life, working with other small businesses and even the experience of starting their very own business. Most consultants will be subject matter experts updated with the latest industry trends that your company can take advantage of.
Your success is their success
This is a great advantage when working with a small business marketing consultant. They need your marketing to be successful to build the reputation, create the case studies and the earn trust within the industry. With a marketing consultant, you can trust that they will do everything within their power to ensure that your business succeeds.
A consultant can be very cost-effective
When you hear the word consultant you may immediately associate and think of words such as ‘costly’, ‘fortune’, ‘hundreds per hour’… but not always! Especially with a small business marketing consultant. Additionally, a marketing consultant will only work the time you need, rather than the overhead costs of a full-time employee – great news if you’re on a tight budget!
No long-term commitment
Hiring a new member of staff is a huge commitment and can be costly. You have to consider pension contributions, employee benefits, national insurance contributions, agency fees, interviews, training and everything else. Then trust that the employee is happy and willing to stay. What if you’re business changes? You can’t temporarily fire an employee and good luck firing them in the first place. You can turn a small business marketing consultant on and off just like a tap. There is no long-term commitment.
You can save your time
One of the greatest advantages of hiring a small business marketing consultant is the buckets of time you will save. Doing the marketing work, that you may not specialise in, will cost you precious time in learning and making mistakes. Plus, regardless of your skillset, just the implementation of the marketing work will take you heaps of time. For a small business there is nothing like hiring a marketing consultant with the expertise to hit the ground running. All whilst leaving you with the precious time needed to get on and focus on your area of expertise.
You get fresh eyes
What do I mean by fresh eyes? Fresh eyes is an under-valued advantage of using a small business marketing consultant. You and your employees are so IN your business you may struggle to step back and see your business with any real clarity. A small business marketing consultant will look at your business with a fresh set of eyes and give you valuable insight and perspective from the outside.
Are there any drawbacks to consider?
Yes, there are also drawbacks to working with a small business marketing consultant (I told you I wouldn’t be biased). Here they are…
You may not be the number one priority
It’s true, you may not be the number one priority for a small business marketing consultant. An experienced expert working on your marketing is also highly likely to be working with other clients as well. This could mean slow delivery times or it could mean that any ‘extras’ fall to the back of the queue. However, a good marketing consultant should be able to manage their time. You should both also be able to agree a time for your project to be delivered by.
They might not include implementation
Many small business marketing consultants stick to their core strength; consulting! This could mean they will do a fantastic job at reviewing your business and providing you with a marketing strategy, only for them to leave you with the huge task of implementing that marketing plan. This could be exactly what you are looking for, or it could be completely disastrous when the quality and the vision of the consultant does not meet the quality and the vision of the person implementing.
You and the consultant may have different visions
No matter how good the small business marketing consultant is, they will never be a fully integrated member of staff embedded into your company. This means that you and the consultant may share a different vision of the company or project at hand. The consultant can easily take a direction that does not take into account the wider priorities of the business or historic issues of the company.
You don’t really know who you’re hiring
When searching for a small business marketing consultant you are going to come across consultants who are very good at selling themselves and their service. But do they really have the right knowledge to drive the results that your business needs? Ultimately when choosing to work with a small business marketing consultant you are going to have to research and interview them. Look for online reviews, their LinkedIn and ask about their qualifications and experience.
Communication is key
So there you have it, some drawbacks of working with a small business marketing consultant. If you are concerned about the points made above, please don’t be, I strongly believe that with a little communication between you and the consultant, most of the drawbacks above will be easily avoided.
What skills should a small business marketing consultant have?
There are many skills that you should demand from a small business marketing consultant. The top 5 skills I believe a good marketing consultant should have are:
- A fundamental understanding of marketing
- Research and analytical
A small business marketing consultant needs the fundamental skills of marketing otherwise they cannot consult appropiately for your business. The consultant needs the research and analytical skills to review your business along with competitors and the external environment. You also need a consultant that is creative otherwise how will they recommend marketing strategies that set you apart from your competition?
Your marketing consultant needs to have clear communication skills in order to maintain a good relationship with you. Additionally, they will need to be able to communicate project updates and their final findings.
Finally, you should expect honestly from your marketing consultant. Personally, I believe honesty is one of the most important characteristics to have as a human being, let alone in a professional relationship.
I hope I have provided you with everything you need to consider when working with a small business marketing consultant. Ultimately the right decision on whether to work with a consultant is down to the individual circumstances of your business. There are certainly risks with working with a small business marketing consultant. However, I believe a greater risk lies with doing your own marketing or blindly hiring a full-time marketing professional.
It is now over to you to decide what is right? What are your thoughts? Is it time for you to hire a small business marketing consultant to help you grow your business?
Share your comments below or take the next step and book a free consultation with me.