Running a business is tough, but getting the foundations right is crucial as to whether you are in the 20% of businesses who fail in their first year (according to Startups.co.uk).
In business we know that to keep the tax man happy we’d employ an accountant, or if we needed legal advice, we’d be the first to pick up the phone to a solicitor. However, marketing is often seen as luxury and many people take on this huge task of marketing their business themselves.
There is a misconception that everyone can do marketing – after all it’s only “social media” or “advertising.” This often comes at the detriment of the business, with the owner taking on too much work, spinning plates and being really scattergun in their approach.
Marketing is a much more complex beast and that’s why its always a good idea to seek the advice of a Marketing Consultant or Outsourced Marketing Manager to help undertake your marketing in a more strategic way.
It’s always quite daunting working with an external consultancy, especially if you’ve never done it before. Your business is your baby, so I thought I’d dispel a few myths and give you a few pointers in how to hire a marketing consultant in the UK.
How does a marketing consultant work?
I love to really get under the skin of a business, as if I were part of the team. You can only really truly “market” a business if you know how it works inside and out. A Marketing Consultant would go right back to basics to try and understand what the business is trying to achieve and put in plans to help achieve these aims.
At Acorn Marketing we work alongside the business owner, or existing marketing team to develop these plans and implement them. I tend to work from my home office and meet with clients regularly to ensure we are hitting all our goals for the businesses marketing.
What services does a marketing consultant offer?
There are lots of freelancers and consultants who specialise in certain areas of marketing, such as a Social Media Manager, a SEO specialist, Web Designer, Graphic Designer, Brand Consultant or Copywriter.
A Marketing Consultant or Outsourced Marketing Manager is often the overarching lead in many of these tasks. They would look at the more strategic marketing aims of the business, developing plans to ensure the organisation reaches its targets. They would then coordinate all the work in the plan that needs doing, using many of the specialists above to get the job done. I like to see it a bit like the conductor of an orchestra of running the marketing department and making things happen.
What questions should I ask a marketing consultant?
We all know that the cheapest is not always the best option and this goes for those who work in marketing. You should always ask how much experience the Marketing Consultant has, who they have worked for previously, what projects they have been involved in and what types of work they undertook. An experienced Marketing Consultant should have no trouble in demonstrating a breadth or skills and knowledge in many areas of marketing.
It is also useful to know if they have any accreditations. For example, if they are part of the Chartered Institute of Marketing or The Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Also, make sure if they have any professional indemnity insurance, so if anything should go wrong you know you are covered (luckily I’ve never had to touch mine!)
How much do marketing consultants charge?
This really varies on the experience and knowledge of the individual Marketing Consultant. You will often see a variety of pricing when you compare Marketing Agencies and independent Consultants. Often Marketing Consultants work from home and have no employees, so overheads are a lot less than an agency. It can often depend on where you are based in the country too, the further south you go, or if you are in a city, prices can often be more expensive.
To find out how much my services cost please download my price guide, which outlines exactly what I do for my clients and the services I provide.
Here is a great article from realbusiness.co.uk which shows that consultants can charge from as little as £150 a day to £1500 a day depending on experience
Do consultants get paid up front?
Many Marketing Consultants are paid on an hourly or a retainer basis. A retainer means you would pay one set fee per month.
I tend to work with retainer clients, or on one off projects, which I quote for separately. Clients usually pay me at the end of each month of undertaking work for them.
If you’re thinking about working with a Marketing Consultant or Outsourced Marketing Manager, you need to figure out what you need from them, because getting it wrong can be the difference between having a business and not having a business.