What is a Marketing Consultant?
Companies hire marketing consultants to strategize how to best engage existing clients and attract new ones. They use analytical tools and the market potential to develop a strategy. Afterward, they measure success by tracking response and results by comparing sales numbers, ROI and using programs like Google Analytics.
Often confused with advertising agents, some people assume marketing consultants do the same things but work independently of an agency. Though they perform complimentary tasks, the two jobs are not the same. Advertising agents create, plan and handle advertising campaigns and other forms of promotion for clients. When companies already know what message or product they want to advertise, they hire an advertising agency to create ads around that message or product. Marketing consultants, however, study an existing business model and develop strategies to achieve larger goals.
Marketing consultants spend a large amount of time with people, whether that’s at in-person meeting, over the phone or at events. They also work across departments frequently, especially with design and legal. They tend to work in fast-paced office environments with many other colleagues, and their hours are often defined by project deadlines rather than by set hourly shifts.
Becoming a Marketing Consultant
One of the fastest ways to stand out in the marketing consultant field is to develop an in-depth knowledge of a few areas particular to marketing, such as content development, SEO or analytics. Focusing on niche areas shouldn’t come at the cost of other marketing knowledge, though; there is an increasing need for T-shaped marketers, meaning someone who has broad knowledge of most marketing topics and deep knowledge of some topics.
Those new to the field or fresh out of college often start their careers at consulting firms. Taking entry-level positions at a firm, typically as analysts or assistants, provides an opportunity to build a base knowledge of the industry and cultivate a reputation. These positions typically entail fundamental tasks for a project, such as assisting in the art direction and execution of a marketing campaign, building customer relations and inventory management. People employed as a marketing assistant reported earning a median annual salary of $36,713.
After earning between two and four years of experience, many assistants advance to marketing consultants. They reported earning an annual salary of $57,773 on average. One-in-three also reported earning extra income through commissions and bonuses, which raised their salary to $63,000. One of the biggest factors driving salary range for this position is years of experience, and consulting is an industry that values experience heavily. Consultants are often hired for their expert advice, and becoming an expert at anything takes time – arguably, it takes 10,000 hours.
With experience comes added perks; an alternative to corporate marketing consulting is freelancing. Many are drawn to freelancing for the flexibility it can offer and the option to be their own boss, and for those with a proven track record of a successful marketing career, it can be very lucrative. Salaries for general freelance consultants are reported to range from $42,178 – $113,421 When hiring a freelance consultant, companies seek out top experts in the appropriate field, so competition is fierce. Typically, highly experienced freelancers, such as former-CEOs and other successful-but-now-retired individuals, are hired.
In addition to experience, most employers hire consultants with a degree in marketing, business or communications. Though it’s more common to earn a marketing degree, a business degree is an excellent alternative that could prove to be advantageous for candidates. With the rise of the T-shaped marketer, having a deep knowledge of specific concepts will be expected. Studying business could provide that specified deep knowledge.
In a typical business program, students gain targeted skills in customer relations, markets, finance, operations, strategy, business policy and communications, all of which can be applied to a career in marketing. The online business degree program from Ave Maria University covers these topics in addition to marketing methods in a convenient and flexible format designed with working professionals in mind. With an accelerated, Catholic-based curriculum, our program will enhance your understanding of the business world while providing you with the necessary support to grow as a professional. As media and technology changes, marketing consultants will likely also need to continue developing their skills through certification.