Technology has been evolving faster than ever, impacting every business and market. This dynamic business landscape brings with it new challenges and opportunities- and even more so for growing businesses. Therefore, many businesses now realise the importance of small business marketing consultants. Marketing professionals can help bridge the gap and adapt to the changing markets.
For a growing business, every decision can have a make or break impact.
When it comes to hiring a small business marketing consultant, the effect is the same.
Hiring a person to manage marketing for the entire business is no easy task.
Before that, however, it is important to be sure that you need one.
If done right, this can be the start of a new era of success for any new or growing business.
Keeping that in mind, let’s go down this road and learn about the factors that indicate your business’ need for external help with marketing.
Also, it is important to know what you must know before begin hiring one.
Before you start hiring a small business marketing consultant
As a business owner, it is important to understand what one can and cannot achieve by hiring a small business marketing consultant.
One reason why many businesses do not get the desired success in this area is a lack of research before hiring a small business marketing consultant.
Diving into some common questions and myths around hiring a consultant is the best way to avoid that.
Every business is different, and there is no single answer to many of the things discussed ahead.
As you go through these, jot down the details with your business in mind.
It will help you get a better idea of why hiring a small business marketing consultant may be what your business needs.
Marketing consultants are not miracle workers
Getting successful in marketing is not easy- and this is something that most business owners learn the hard way.
Simply hiring the best small business marketing consultant will not solve all problems.
It is important to have realistic expectations when hiring.
A consultant is an expert in the specific subject matter(s).
For instance, he/she may be an expert in generating sales leads, or getting traffic to a website, and so on.
They cannot take an organisation to the top in a matter of days.
Do not hire a consultant that claims that.
No experienced small business marketing consultant can get instant results or take any shortcut.
While shortcuts may seem like an easy way to get instant gains, they will have negative impacts in the long run.
Thus, it is vital to hire a marketer with the right expectations and specific problem set in mind, which brings us to the next thing that one should know.
What problems do you want the marketing consultant to solve?
A marketing consultant is an expert on some specific subject matters.
He or she can help in solving problems like product visibility, reaching out to target audience, advertising online or offline, etc.
However, hiring them to solve problems outside this domain may not work here.
If you are making good sales but still not generating profits, then it may be a problem with the product’s pricing, expenditure or anything else – but this may not be something that such a marketer can solve.
It is important to have a clear picture of the problem that you are looking to solve, or what the objective is in hiring a small business marketing consultant.
They should only be focused on problems that lie within the domain.
Are you ready to invest in other areas of your business?
Investing in the right business marketing consultant can fetch rich dividends for the business overall.
However, it could also strain other parts of it.
A growing business goes through many challenges in all areas, right from human resources to customer service.
Unless an organisation is ready to invest in all these areas and address the challenges that come up, hiring an external consultant may not be the right move.
When hiring a small business marketing consultant, there will be an increase in lead generation.
Your business needs to be prepared to serve new business that comes it’s the way.
While this may sound like it will not become a problem too soon- it will sooner than later.
Reaping the results of small business marketing consultant demands that you invest in other parts of the business as well.
Are you ready to commit to marketing?
Marketing is not a one-day job or just a single event.
Any good effort is an ongoing process, and it changes with time.
Hiring a small business marketing consultant will help you form a strategy that will require regular effort and work.
As you start to understand what you must know before hiring a small business marketing consultant, let’s go ahead and see why you should hire one.
Your Marketing Values
In understanding the value of a small business marketing consultant, you also need to know the value of practices within your own business.
A few points to understand the value include:
- The cost involved in acquiring a marketing vs sales qualified lead.
- What is the cost of lead conversion to a customer?
- Quantify the customer’s lifetime value for the business.
- For every dollar spent on marketing, what is the ROI?
This search for an expert can only start when these questions are answered.
This will help you gain more clarity on what exactly the business needs from a small business marketing consultant.
Marketing values and what you need from a small business marketing consultant
Through the points above, you will start to find out where the gaps lie.
This can help understand what type of a small business marketing consultant you require.
For instance, if getting leads in the sales cycle costing your business a lot, then it means that you require help with funnel activities.
Funnel activities include things like social media, SEO, etc.
If lead conversion to customers involves high costs, then it requires a small business marketing consultant to change existing practices.
This could also include changing the business process of the sales cycle, CRM/Deal management improvements and lead intelligence implementation, among other things.
These values are not just to create content for the leaders.
They are the foundation of the right choices towards focusing time, capital and effort to get the best of experts to implement changes with results.
In-House V/s Outsourced Consultants
As you go through all this, one question that may come up is why not an in-house marketing expert instead of hiring a small business marketing consultant.
There is no direct way to answer this.
The details about the costs of in-house marketing teams are readily available.
But hiring a small business marketing consultant and its costs can vary, based on what you require and hire.
An example will shed some more light on what the involved costs are.
For a small business ( a company with less than $50M of revenue in a year), assume the following goals:
- Complete inbound marketing plan
- Blog with 8 fresh content per month
- SEO for every blog post
- Scale-up email marketing campaign to cover marketing automation
- Create 1 lead generation content each quarter
- Manage the new leads’ flow in the right sales bucket
- Increase the content output and interaction with target audience over social media
These are the basic aims that marketing teams identify as the standard when working on any inbound marketing strategy.
These points also help in interviewing the right candidates for the job.
Costs in each case
For in-house experts in the United States, the average salary for a professional can be between $42k-$65k.
This is not considering variables like any other offers that they may have, existing experience, etc.
With all this, it is safe to assume that this cost may be around $50k annually, excluding benefits.
Benefits can be around $15k for a year, which brings this number to $65k annually, or $5.4k a month.
So, for $5.4k a month, can you expect to find 1 person that would do the job.
This resource would work as much as 3-4 resources from a marketing agency.
Also, he/she would and have a constant focus on delivering the best results.
How realistic is that?
On the other hand, for $50k a year, finding a small business marketing consultant or agency can be quite a safe bet.
Most businesses prefer doing tasks in-house, but with marketing, they should be realistic about what can be achieved here.
In situations like these, hiring a small business marketing consultant may make more sense than going in for an in-house expert.
How much does a marketing consultant charge?
A good way of wasting time is using Google to find out the cost of hiring a small business marketing consultant.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach while looking for a marketing consultant.
Thus, expect the costs to vary. Many factors come into play while outsourcing a task such as this.
How much will it cost your business to hire a marketing consultant depends on many things.
Right from your business’ needs, the operation size and its current state and what is the size and state of the current marketing efforts in your business.
Most marketing consultants would have a retainer for a base number of hours allocated for the project.
Based on the nature of work, this could be different for each.
Let us go ahead analyse cost by dividing based on the consulting.
This is for business on the lookout for a consultant to create a basic content strategy.
It could also include work on marketing automation tools (train and advise employees on) or organise the marketing team.
Such marketing consultants could range from $2k to $5k in a month.
With such services, you will get a highly experienced and trained resource for as much (or even less than) as a full-time professional.
Cost is not the only benefit to consider here.
With an expert marketer, you get a trained resource for whom you don’t have to worry about leaves or not working when you are not keeping an eye.
Also, with an external marketer, there are no costs like health insurance, benefits, etc.
These could be an additional 15%-20% of the yearly costs at least.
You also get the option of looking for a replacement (if it does not work out).
Offload part of the job ($5k-$15k a month)
As the work gets more, the available range will also broaden up.
With such a small business marketing consultant, you can add up daily responsibilities along with the monthly consulting tasks.
This works for businesses where they do not have enough people or the skillset for managing related tasks.
Any inbound marketing strategy has several activities going on in parallel, and marketing consultants can help manage those.
Tasks covered in such cases include blog posts & content creation, email campaign management, workflow creation/ streams for managing marketing automation campaigns, working on graphic material for new assets, and so on.
Offloading these tasks helps the team focus on other activities that they specialise in and work in other ways for the marketing strategy.
Outsourcing to Full-Time Consultants (Over $15k per month)
As businesses get into the highly competitive landscape, they are starting to realise that competing at these levels is not possible unless they commit to marketing.
For roughly the cost of 3 resources (or even less than that), businesses are turning towards hiring full-time marketing consultants.
This gives the company the freedom to scale up capabilities without focusing on hiring and running a team of people, adding more strain.
For a company that aims to outsource to full-service marketers completely, it is vital to understand the work that goes into this.
A good small business marketing consultant will give leadership and strategy at the CMO-level, lead content creation, manage social media, SEO, manage ongoing projects and plan & modify existing processes.
This will also give him insights into how the business works and allows for continuous improvement in every process.
With this, an organisation should outsource only to a team that comes with a proven record in every sphere.
What will the small business marketing consultant take over for you?
A small business marketing consultant can do a lot for an organisation, especially in today’s changing markets.
A look into some of the tasks that you can expect the marketing consultant to take over for you will help you get that better.
Forming a marketing strategy
No company can grow without a solid marketing strategy behind it.
Most marketing issues come from the lack of a solid strategy.
Even the biggest and well-established companies are always working on and revising their marketing strategies.
A small business marketing consultant can help you figure out the right set of clients.
Also, marketing consultants help you define why a customer should only buy only from you.
In doing that, you can define the difference between your company and the rest.
All these things are important to create a marketing strategy that will be effective.
A full-time expert will work on these factors.
He/she will then spend time on creating the marketing strategy and only then implement it.
Give marketing the time and attention it demands
Running an organisation is not an easy task by any means.
As the brand starts growing, so does the need for marketing.
Sustainable growth without a solid strategy for marketing is not possible.
But it may not be possible for you to devote enough time to marketing every time.
However- do not let this worry you. It is not a problem since you are already on the way to do something about it.
Hiring a small business marketing consultant can help you ensure that marketing is on the priority list.
It lets you focus on the areas that you are best at while making sure that the business’ marketing needs are being taken care of.
Bridging resource gaps
Resource gaps do not just mean personnel.
Resource gaps could be anything ranging from people, time, financial and knowledge, to name a few.
As the brand’s owner, doing everything on your own may be a way to go most of the time.
However, this is not an easy road.
If mistakes come up later, then handling them can prove to be even more expensive.
Getting outside help for a small business owner is not an easy job.
They were outsourcing it to a marketer who understands that and ensures that they understand the company well before stepping into it.
They not only improve upon the existing marketing practices but also work towards bridging any gaps that might exist in the marketing of the company.
Adjusting to the rapidly changing market trends
Marketing teams understand how hard the market is and how to overcome the challenges that come with it.
A small business marketing consultant has experience in the most effective marketing tools to boost productivity.
These SMEs help in guiding the company and its marketing needs on the right path.
Every passing day is seeing a rapid change in marketing.
It is important for you as the leader to not have to worry about that coming in the way of success.
Lead generation is the most common problem that almost all companies face.
This is also among the biggest issues in crossing over to ‘the next level’ in their business.
It is impossible to find growth without leads.
A professional and experienced marketer knows the market and its scenarios in a way that helps in increasing lead generation.
When done right, the strategies formed by a small business marketing consultant can help the company to get as many leads as it wants.
Lead generation is only one half of the part.
Converting them into sales is another equally important aspect.
If leads are not getting sales, it could be due to one (or more) of several possible reasons.
Some reasons could be the quality of the leads, poor conversion process, etc.
The ideal marketer with enough experience knows what this problem is.
He/she can help in finding out the issues that are impacting lead generation, and the best way to get rid of them.
In many cases, the generation of leads may not be a problem.
It could be lead conversion where the problem lies.
Issues like these are what an experienced marketing consultant can help you find out, ensuring that you are focusing resources on solving the right problem.
Focusing on the right areas
All company leaders have too many lead tasks and efforts.
With all of that, focusing on marketing with the effort it requires can be a challenge.
Right from sales to human resources and marketing along with their own lives- there is a lot that a company owner may have to juggle with.
Letting small business marketing consultants help in the marketing effort is an effective way of making the job slightly easier.
Marketing professionals can help in the creation of a marketing system that will take care of the company’s marketing efforts.
This frees up the leaders for focusing on other core areas.
You v/s the competition
One of the biggest problems that all types of companies are trying to address is to separate themselves from the competition.
A common tactic in this area is price wars- pricing yourself under the competition.
This, however, is a losing battle.
A marketing consultant knows that there are better ways to achieve this.
It is important to clearly define what sets you apart from the rest, and why the customer must come to you.
What do you gain by hiring a marketing consultant?
Now that you have defined your’ marketing requirements, what the marketing consultant can do, and its costs, the next thing is what you will gain from it.
Working with a small business marketing consultant comes with several advantages.
Small company owners may be sceptical about this at first.
Going over the benefits that come with this will help get some more clarity.
An army of subject matter experts
Hiring a marketing professional gets you the expertise and record of an army of subject matter experts with your company.
They have the skill set that regular employees do not have.
Marketing consultants spend years working and training themselves as per the latest market trends and practices.
This gives your company an edge over the rest and helps you get on the right path in differentiating yourself from the competition.
Pay for what you need
With an outsourced marketing professional, you only pay for what you need and hire.
For any new or growing business, it is important to get value out of every dollar being spent.
Paying a full-time wage for something that only requires part-time work is one of the biggest ways to bleed money.
When you hire an external marketing professional, you only pay when you get work done.
This ensures that you are getting value from every spend.
All leaders spend a considerable amount of time in people management, and this cannot be neglected.
There is a lot of time involved in every stage of the employee life-cycle.
Right from hiring to managing the employee, solving issues, tracking progress, and so on, a lot of time and cost is invested.
Hiring a small business marketing consultant gives you all the benefits (and more) than what an employee can deliver.
However, with a full-time outsourced professional, you do not have to invest so much time into managing everything.
A new perspective
Many leaders get so involved in their work that sometimes clarity can be hard to attain in certain issues.
With a marketing consultant, you get that clear picture from a fresh perspective.
Marketing consultants are armed with years of varied experience in everything around that market, which gives your marketing strategy that much-needed insight.
When it comes to identifying gaps in the market and the right solutions for them, a fresh set of eyes can make all the difference.
They bring the value of experience
The majority of the employees that you hire across skill levels will only come with limited experience.
If you are trying to handle marketing on your own, then without experience in the field, there is little that you will be able to do.
However, marketing has a wide variety of experience built by working for different industries.
This helped him/her spot mistakes quickly and put the marketing strategy in focus towards growth and success.
Get results faster
When you hire an external freelancer for marketing, he or she works to build and implement a marketing strategy, and you will begin to see the change quickly.
Someone who is focused on just one purpose for your company can get you the results that you need faster than you handling marketing or even in-house teams.
At times, marketing is put on the back burner in the company for more pressing issues, and a small business marketing consultant helps avoid just that.
Get rid of the overhead
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of time invested in the hiring and management of each resource.
Many new companies do not require hiring a full-time marketing team.
Outsourcing marketing makes the most sense for them, and this also removes overheads like time and cost.
How to hire an external marketing consultant?
With all that you have just learned, the next question in your mind must be how you can get a small business marketing consultant?
To help you with just that, let us go over some of the most important things that you must take care of in this search.
Research, review and ask for referrals
A marketing consultant’s website will probably be your first stop while hiring.
This will give you an idea of the different service offerings, what to expect from these services, their experience, and testimonials.
Marketing freelancers and agencies will also have a social media presence, which will help get more insight into how they operate and work.
Any marketing professional worth his salt should have invested in building an impressive online presence for his/her company.
Interview potential consultants
For the consultants whose online presence got your attention, the next part in hiring involves meeting and interviewing them.
Try to ask them about their way of solving marketing problems.
During this interview, the marketer should also be asking questions like your goal for the company, its customer base, existing marketing efforts and strategy, products and their profits, and so on.
As someone you will be working with a lot, it is vital to have a good conversation here to understand each other’s objectives and strategies.
Ask about trials
As a company owner, it is important to be committed to marketing.
Hiring new people for the same job too often will have a negative impact, which is why it is important to hire right the first time.
Ask the consultant for any ‘trial’ that you can get before hiring.
For instance, some consultants offer a marketing analysis of the current efforts and standing of the company.
It helps both the professional and client understand each other’s perspectives.
Iron out the details and engage
Once your due diligence is through, you should have the details of the potential hire listed down.
The details include the scope of work, the costs involved, expectations (for both of you), measurement of the results and communication strategy between you and the marketer.
This process is not a one-time thing but is a continuous process- so it is important to communicate with the marketing professionals you hire each step of the way.
As you go through these details, you will start getting an idea of what a marketing freelancer can do for you.
It will help you understand if these are the things that your company needs- and how they can help your company continue the path to success.