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Do I need a marketing consultant?

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

Whether you need a marketing consultant will depend on a number of factors, not least what your requirement is and whether or not you feel that you need external input to solve the problem or progress your project.

Establishing the need for a marketing consultant might look like you carrying out some of your own research into the available expertise internally and also whether or not existing capacity lends itself to carrying out the project in question.

On some occasions, it may be the case that the available expertise in your business or organisation is not of a sufficient technical level to carry out the project and therefore you will probably be looking for the external help to achieve this expertise and knowledge.

Also, sometimes an external marketing consultant might give your existing marketing resource the boost of a fresh input and new ideas, this can be the case if the staff have been carrying out somewhat repetitive tasks and are, sometimes by their own admission becoming stale and feeling blocked.

Budget may be a consideration when considering using a marketing consultant, as the fees will need to be available to make the hire and this should be comfortably affordable for the business.

If the decision has been made that a marketing consultant is the right move for the business, then it is a good idea to start to research marketing consultants to establish the skills that each has and what they can bring to the business and if they have relevant skills and experience.

Relevance of experience may then be evidenced by case studies and the consultant having a good list of recent testimonials to strengthen their case for being chosen.

Usually, marketing consultants will have good websites with plenty of content that allows you to evaluate their approach and experience before you go on to make an enquiry, so that you can carry our desk research and create a short list before even making a contact.

If you do go on to contact the marketing consultant, it is a good idea to have a decent brief of the project that encapsulates the scope and duration of the project and the resources that will need to be provided by the consultant, if these go beyond simply time and expertise.

The more comprehensive the marketing brief, then the more chance there is of the marketing consultant being able to provide a response and proposal that is a good match for the requirement.

What if you decide you need a long-term marketing consultant? Sometimes in the middle of a project with a marketing consultant, it becomes evident that there is a much greater requirement than that which was first outlined.

This can be as a result of a ‘knock-on’ effect of the marketing consultant uncovering needs in different topic areas, or even within different departments or even geographic regions.

This often leads to the scope of the project becoming much larger than first anticipated and can lead to the marketing consultant being asked to provide a greater level of input, or a larger number of hours over a much longer duration.

It may also mean that there is a much greater degree of integration of the marketing consultant into the business or organisation, and that he or she is now liaising with different people, within different departments and obviously spending much more time than may have been initially calculated.

Often, at this point of greater saturation on both sides, there is a strategic choice to be made of whether to amplify the use of the consultancy, or for the client to consider taking on a staff member, or even a full team to fulfil the requirement.

The marketing consultant themselves will be a good starting point for such deliberations, as they will almost certainly have an opnion of where the relationship is going and if they actually have the capacity and resources to adequately fulfil what is needed.

The situation can change in any business and sometimes it can be the case that an initial need for a marketing consultant is no longer the case.

Alternatively, on some occasions a consultant can become a member of the team either on an employed basis or via a longer term basis.

On deciding whether there is a need for a marketing consultant, it’s a good idea for any business to carry out an audit of the current capacity and decide on what basis a marketing consultant will be required, i.e. by contract, or by project with a given duration, budget and outcomes agreed.

The good news is that most good marketing consultants do offer a good degree of flexibility in this area and will agree a structure for services that fits into the client’s expectations and budget.

Geographic location of a marketing consultant is much less important these days than previously, as remote working is much more the norm than the exception and is likely to stay that way in the future.

It’s therefore, much less likely that you’ll have a marketing consultant in-situ in the office and with remote working, it really doesn’t matter what the physical location of the marketing consultant is as long as language, culture and communications are able to be managed.

In summary, the decision of whether a marketing consultant is needed is one based on a number of important factors and it’s always worth doing the research to find out if that’s when you actually need before making the decision.

A good marketing consultant will challenge the paradigms of your business and get you asking new questions and involve the whole team in this transformative process, so sometimes it’s much more than accessing some temporary business advice or solving an immediate problem.

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