How to find, select, hire and pay a marketing consultant to help you with your small business marketing.
It's a great idea to hire a marketing consultant. Why? They'll make sure the to-do list to get and keep customers/clients gets done! Then you can go back to doing what you should be doing: running your business or enjoying the benefits of paying someone else to do work you don't want to.
What you want a marketing consultant to do for you:
1. Set up the marketing basics - things like a customer database, customer/client contact plan, email newsletter, website, brochure, get your business listed online, create a Facebook and/or LinkedIn profile.
- Here's the Marketing Must Do List they should be able to handle for you
2. Maintain your marketing and business development activities so they get done every month.
To save money, you can hire someone to set things up for you and then manage it yourself but for many small businesses, marketing won't be a priority until you need clients/customers. Marketing is like a sprinkler system for your yard that is always working for you. A marketing consultant can act as both the equivalent of a landscape designer and contractor and also handle ongoing maintenance of your marketing. That's a smart investment. There are a lot of great freelancers you can hire to do this.
A caution about hiring people to help you with marketing
Full-service marketing consultants generally create a marketing plan and budget for a small business or non-profit organization and also implement the plan they create.
- They need to be a great planner and project manager who understands all the different types of marketing and can meet deadlines within budget.
- Full-service marketing consultants are like Internists in the medical world - they are generalists who understand marketing. They often hire and work with specialists in marketing like graphic designers and web designers.
- They can be like having a "time share" of an expert marketing leader for your small business or "extra hands" to get things done. Since they're not on payroll, you pay them for their time or agree to a retainer fee to secure a specific amount of their time each month.
- They should understand your industry and the target audience (type of customers) you want to reach.
- Expect to pay a full-service marketing consultant who is working as a freelancer anywhere between $75 and $150/hour depending on their particular expertise.
Marketing planning and budgeting consultants work with a company to create a marketing plan that someone else implements.
- You want to hire the most senior and experienced person you can afford to do this important strategic work.
- You want to find someone with expertise in your industry and marketing to the type of prospective customers you want to market to. You'll then benefit from their accumulated "lessons learned" and not be paying someone to come up-to-speed.
- You want them to be "marketing tactic neutral" meaning that the person understands and appreciates all the different marketing tactics (email marketing, direct mail, advertising, PR, trade shows and events, social media, online marketing, websites).
- If you are considering any type of advertising, you want to make sure this person has expertise in developing media plans and scenarios so you can evaluate the options and trade-offs at different budget levels.
- If you're doing local marketing, you'll want to find someone who knows the costs and local marketing suppliers in your city or town.
- The people doing this type of consulting work are often people who worked in senior marketing jobs at companies and left to go freelance for the flexibility in their schedule. They're often great at creating marketing plans and budgets but you may be overpaying if you are having them do more tactical work like setting up a trade show or event or writing brochure copy.
- These strategic marketing consultants also tend to be very well connected within the industry or locally so can be very helpful also with business development and identifying leads for companies selling to other businesses.
- Expect to pay a marketing consultant that is developing a strategic plan and/or budget for you $100 to $175/hour. Why so much? This is a one-time project for someone and they are sharing their years of accumulated expertise to develop a plan specifically for your business. Many marketing executives from large companies now freelance. Find someone with expertise in your industry.
Other marketing consultants are specialists for a type of marketing activity like:
- PR - press relations, analyst relations and pitching stories to the media
- Data analysis, customer segmentation, ecommerce analytics
- Market research - these people are specialized generally too based on qualitative or quantitative research
- Direct mail marketing - there are specialists in direct mail lists; creating direct mail; direct mail fulfillment; analysis
- Customer database - there are specialists in database creation, development, enhancement and management
- Trade shows and events
- Branding and creating logos and visual identity
- email marketing - there are specialists in email lists, creation, planning and analysis
- Social media
- Websites - there are specialists in website design, creation, ecommerce, web analytics,
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- Writing web content, white papers, articles, etc.
- And many other areas
Marketing specialists who coordinate marketing activities are paid a lower hourly rate than their peers who are more senior that handle marketing planning, budgeting and business development. Expect to pay someone doing tactical marketing coordination work $50 to $100 an hour. The more experienced the person is, the more they will charge. You may end up spending less money if you hire someone who is more experienced because they should be better and faster at getting things done and will require less management on your part.
How to find freelance marketing consultants
Marketing Companies, Agencies and Consultants has all the articles on how to select and pay marketing experts
Next page - things to know about hiring a freelance marketing consultant
Tips and cautions
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