The role of a marketing consultant is not only rewarding, but it also provides a varied, exciting career where no single day is the same. It is an ideal job for those bursting with creativity, problem-solving skills, and a passion for all aspects of marketing. Yet, before getting too far ahead, what does a marketing consultant actually do?
A marketing consultant works with organizations to produce and develop promotional materials, increase reach across their customer base, and ultimately boost conversion numbers and revenue. The role demands a high level of marketing expertise, including in-depth knowledge about tactics, what tools to use, and how to conduct effective market research.
With that in mind, are you hoping to become a marketing consultant? If so, this post will help. There are plenty of steps to take before becoming a professional in this field, so consume all the information below to decide if this is the right career path for you.
Education and necessary training.
A strong foundation is required to be a marketing consultant, and that foundation is built with the right education and training. It is true: certain marketing consultants have gotten to their position without a bachelor’s degree.
However, getting this type of degree in marketing, communications, or business is highly recommended. Without it, you may struggle to work with most companies. In fact, it is often a mandatory requirement for a marketing professional – particularly one in a consultancy position – to have a relevant bachelor’s degree.
With an appropriate degree, you learn a lot of essential aspects revolving around sales and advertising. It is also suitable for improving soft skills like problem-solving, analysis, and communication – critical ingredients for any well-rounded marketing consultant.
Formal education should be a primary focus. For instance, along with a degree, you should consider earning certifications in subjects like financial planning, analytics, and marketing software.
However, informal learning is also recommended. Simply reading relevant blogs and testing digital marketing tactics – think content marketing, social media advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), etc. – can fast-track your education.
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Tip: education and training never stop.
When you complete a degree and grab a couple of certifications, you might feel your education is complete. In reality, that could not be further from the truth. Digital marketing is not something you can 100% learn during a set time frame – this is a subject that demands frequent, continual learning.
The digital marketing landscape is one that never stops changing. Whether it is social media or SEO, industry trends come and go. It is your job to stay current with these trends, which means you must continue your education with both formal and informal methods.
For instance, you may not necessarily have to study for another degree. Yet it can be wise to receive certification in any new trend or updated marketing strategy, especially if you want to demonstrate this on your resume. Reading guides and watching YouTube videos can also assist with filling gaps.
Take a recent addition to the social media game: TikTok. Any marketing consultant worth their salt must be up-to-date with how TikTok works, its marketing potential, and how it can be used to promote a brand. However, getting to grips with this platform can be tricky initially – and that is where a training program or a few video tutorials can make a world of difference.
Gaining relevant experience.
While your education supplies a starting point, you must put this into practice and gain relevant first-hand experience. You can learn with classes, textbooks, videos, blogs, podcasts, and so on, but true education comes from getting involved in marketing-related jobs and assignments.
Of course, getting this experience can be a little trickier than it appears. This is the case if you are attempting to gain marketing work alongside studying for your degree.
The good news is that, as more and more companies realize the importance of a marketing department, a growing number of opportunities are springing up in this field. The result: you should not find it too difficult to find entry-level positions or internship opportunities within the marketing sector.
Alternatively, you could search for freelance roles via platforms like PeoplePerHour and Upwork. Although you may struggle to find marketing consultant roles, smaller projects like content creation and social media management are certainly attainable. Every little helps when it comes to building up your marketing experience levels.
The reasons to gain experience.
Learn on the job: There is no better education than the one you earn when working on the job. You gain unique insights into roles that you never knew about before. Furthermore, it helps to build on the skills you learned during your education, while the experience instills an extra layer of confidence and professionalism that will carry you well for your career in the future.
Build up contacts: Opportunities rarely just turn up out of the blue. You must build up a healthy list of contacts that can help you secure work in both the present and future. Freelancing for clients is one of the most effective ways to build fruitful professional relationships.
Enhance your portfolio: For any marketing consultant getting started, an impressive portfolio is essential. This is needed to showcase not only relevant experience but also the marketing skills you possess. With the right combination of education and experience, you should be able to impress clients and convince them to select you for their marketing consultant role.
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Building a network.
Networking is necessary if you want to work in the marketing industry. It will assist with finding future opportunities in the marketing world, which is beneficial when attempting to break into new markets to expand your knowledge and experience.
Networking can also help in various other ways. This includes building contacts for marketing opportunities, linking up with other professionals you can enlist on a freelance basis, and market research purposes.
There is just one question: How do you actually connect with other professionals in the marketing field and build a network?
Tips to build your marketing network effectively.
Get social: One of the easiest – and most effective – ways to grow your marketing network is with social media. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be used to connect with people within the industry. LinkedIn, in particular, is known as the best social media platform for building professional relationships. You can share articles, join groups to engage in discussions, and search for relevant profiles. The search function is also great for networking indirectly. If your profile is fleshed out and fully optimized, others can find you via searches.
Attend networking events: One obvious path to take is to attend events that have been designed specifically for networking. While these only used to occur in person, the situation is different these days with online networking events. This ensures you are able to attend more events without travel restrictions, and you can potentially meet key players in the marketing industry – and ultimately make lasting connections.
Connect with previous coworkers: If you have left any previous roles, it can be wise to connect with past coworkers. You never know when this could open up some new opportunities in the future, particularly when you make that step up to be a fully-fledged marketing consultant.
Begin your own networking group: A savvy tactic is to start your very own networking group. By doing this, you have complete control of the group – including the main subject theme and events created – which ensures you can establish links with like-minded people. While social media channels like Facebook can be used to create groups, you can also use a dedicated platform such as Meetup. The benefit of this is that it expands your reach and improves the chances of establishing more valuable connections.
Building your brand.
Yes, as a marketing consultant, you are helping to build the visibility and popularity of brands. Still, before you venture out and do that work for businesses, it is essential that you step back and think about your own brand.
As a marketing consultant, you want clients. To get these clients, you have to sell yourself effectively. Without a strong personal brand, you might struggle to convince potential clients you are the real deal. In fact, it is likely they will opt for a different consultant who not only has the skills and experience needed, but can also demonstrate their work with their own branding efforts. After all, a solid brand of their own is the best way to make an impressive first impression.
To make that a reality, here are some points to keep in mind:
Be an established expert.
Before you think about the aesthetics and added layers behind a top personal brand, you have to consider how to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Clients will see through the pomp and bluster if there is nothing of substance behind it.
Although a marketing consultant is expected to be an all-around expert, it is possible to make a name for yourself in a specific area of focus. This might be as a social media expert, for example, or you could be known for your SEO proficiency.
Before you demonstrate your expertise, it is imperative you are well-versed in your area of focus. This should be obvious. However, it is not entirely uncommon for people to try and put up a front – although this is knocked down sooner rather than later. A degree, as mentioned above, delivers the foundation, but continued learning is necessary to achieve – and maintain – ‘expert’ status.
One way to be regarded as an expert in your field is to craft content. If this content is in-depth, well-researched, and valuable to the reader, you can quickly build up traction as a person to read when it comes to your marketing subject of choice. You need to produce content on at least a semi-regular basis to sustain visibility. Blog posts will also have to be posted on authoritative websites that receive plenty of relevant traffic.
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Create a website.
Can a marketing consultant get by without a dedicated website? Yes. With that said, there are various positives gained from creating a site that revolves around your consultancy work. It provides you with a centralized point to direct others to visit.
You can display your portfolio and services offered in a pleasing, optimized fashion. Additionally, it acts as a sandbox where you can test out and showcase your digital marketing prowess. There is even the added potential bonus of gaining organic traffic through your SEO efforts!
Of course, you cannot go into it half-heartedly when producing a website. This is a representation of your brand. As such, you must ensure your site features a modern, clean, and appealing design.
You also have to factor in performance. A sluggish, unresponsive site is not a positive representation. Every aspect of your site has to be firing on all cylinders – otherwise, it might end up being a negative rather than a positive.
Build your social media presence.
As well as a website, you should also take the necessary steps to build up your social media presence. Whether it is Twitter or TikTok, everyone is on social media. It makes it an excellent place to create connections, add proof to your expertise, and build up your brand. Importantly as a marketing consultant, it is also a method to demonstrate your social media marketing expertise.
Imagine if you had a Twitter account that is rarely updated and only has a handful of followers. It does not take a specialist to know this is a bad look. It makes you appear like an amateur, which is the opposite projection you want when trying to highlight your expertise in the marketing world.
Now, there is no need for you to be on every social media platform. Try and do this, and there is no chance you will be able to dedicate enough time to each one. Instead, decide on two or three platforms to base yourself on. Not only will this provide you with enough coverage to be seen by everyone you need to be seen by, but you will also have the necessary time to produce consistent content for each one.
How to find clients.
As already listed above, one of the most important steps is building a network. Yet a marketing consultant cannot succeed without the most vital group from this network: clients. You need clients to make money – it is that simple. Sadly, the hardest step in the process is getting these clients to hire you for your services.
How to find and acquire clients.
Your network is the first place to start when attempting to find and acquire clients. If you have been effective with your networking attempts, you should have a healthy collection of potential clients that will be looking to enlist your services.
If that is not opening the door to clients, the next step could be to venture onto freelance platforms. Organizations are always searching for freelancers to help them with their marketing efforts, and they will turn to freelancer platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to complete their search.
Your marketing efforts – a website, social media profiles, etc. – can also help with gaining clients. This is perhaps the best way to attract clients, as you are not going out of your way to attract them. Instead, they are coming to you without any type of prompt. Due to this, the more you put into your social media, SEO, blog content, etc., the more potential you have to reach clients organically.
Create a marketing plan to attract clients.
It is recommended to create a marketing plan. Hiring a marketing consultant is not something that is done lightly. This is a senior position where a business will consider multiple qualified candidates before making a hire. With this in mind, it is essential you do as much as possible to stand out from the crowd.
A marketing plan, which details your strategy and skills as a marketing consultant, is an excellent way for clients to get a clear idea about you and your ideas. Think of it like a cover letter, but one that is much more detailed and packed with information potential clients want to read about.
Tools you should use.
A successful marketing consultant is a knowledgeable one. They might have a lot of knowledge, skills, and contacts, but they also realize they cannot handle all of the work on their own. There is only so much time available each working day, and a consultant with numerous clients has to manage that time effectively. That is where software tools enter the equation.
With the right collection of tools, a marketing consultant is able to do their tasks faster, more effectively, and more accurately. As someone that is just starting out on this career path, however, it is unlikely you are too familiar with the best tools for the job. That is where we can help. Here are some key tools to add to your repertoire:
Market research is always a critical component for any marketing consultant. To build effective marketing strategies, they need to learn about the customers and competition of a company, and that is where a tool like GapScout is so valuable.
With GapScout, you are able to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to analyze content such as reviews and social media posts. With specialist AI technology, you simply feed it the hundreds or thousands of pieces of content you need to analyze, and GapScout will do this for you. The end result: all of the gold within the content is plucked out and presented to you in an easy-to-read manner.
A marketing consultant must have a comprehensive digital marketing tool, and SEMrush is among the best in that regard. SEMrush is ideal for managing all aspects of your SEO strategies. You can find the right keywords to target with each project, monitor SEO campaigns conducted by the competition, craft optimized blog and webpage content, audit current content, and perform backlink analysis
It is not just SEO where it helps. SEMrush is also valuable for PPC ad campaigns, gaining in-depth organic traffic insights, and so much more. The price for SEMrush is high for consultants just starting out, but it soon starts paying for itself tenfold.
You know the importance of social media in the digital marketing world. Well, Sprout Social is the tool you need to manage all of those social media profiles you will often be handling for clients.
With Sprout Social, you have a centralized platform from which you can manage every social profile. Not only that but it can be used to schedule and automate your social media posts. Add in the powerful analytics you gain from this tool, where you can gauge activity and the effectiveness of content, and Sprout Social is a no-brainer for a marketing professional.
There are many powerful tools you can benefit from with HubSpot. However, there is one element that stands out from the rest in terms of popularity: Hubspot CRM.
Email notifications, prospect tracking, live chat options, and the ability to schedule meetings are just some of the features of this customer relationship management tool. It is also simple to use for those getting to grips with using a comprehensive CRM solution.
There is another big positive: HubSpot CRM is free to use. While you will eventually want to move over to the paid plan to up the user and contact numbers, the free option is great for getting to grips with the tool.
You never stop learning how to become a marketing consultant.
Success as a marketing consultant is not easy, and it is not a one-and-done process. It requires a dash of talent, a significant amount of persistence and dedication, and the ability to follow the steps listed above. Oh, and to be always learning!
There are no shortcuts with this career path. Yet, if you follow the directions and make the right moves, it is possible to thrive as a marketing consultant and enjoy one of the most exciting, varied jobs around.
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