What does a marketing consultant do?

What, Exactly, Does a Marketing Consultant Do?

Companies hire marketing consultants for many reasons: to support initiatives outside their existing team’s scope, to bring an expert perspective to a particular challenge, or to improve execution in daily operations. The job requirements can be quite broad, which is why so many marketing consultants spend so much time clarifying their scopes of work!

But in our experience, the most important thing a marketing consultant can do for you is rarely one that’s included in an RFP: build an achievable path to reach your objectives and mature your business.

Doing so requires evaluation in areas you might not consider to be within your initial scope, such as:

  • Audience fit and market position
  • Software and process infrastructure
  • Team composition and skillset
  • Database management and segmentation
  • Brand and creative review

That’s why in today’s post we’re looking at what, exactly, a marketing consultant SHOULD do for you.

Market Research & Marketing ROI Evaluation

1. A marketing consultant should gather data to help you understand what the numbers say about your business.

What Does a Marketing Consultant Do? Market ResearchUnderstanding your customers’ needs and assessing and how well you’re meeting them is a foundational concept for every marketer. Gathering this data will help you understand areas such as the following:

  • Growth Opportunities:
    • How big is your market?
    • Who are your competitors?
    • What untapped needs might exist?
  • Marketing ROI:
    • What return are you getting on your marketing investments?
    • What return should you expect to get from new campaigns?
    • Where are your highest-revenue leads coming from?
  • Brand Competitiveness:
    • What does your target audience think about your product or service?
    • Does the brand experience you deliver match the brand experience you want to deliver?
    • How visible is your brand online?
    • Is your value proposition clear and compelling?

Many organizations will have this information readily available. A good marketing consultant should ask to review your past market research and campaign performance data to build their understanding of your organization. If you don’t have this information readily available, you may want to consider including it in your scope.

Branding and Design

2. A marketing consultant should assess gaps in how you want to be seen by your audience vs. how they experience your brand. 

What Does a Marketing Consultant Do? Brand DesignOnce you understand exactly what your audience is looking for, the next step is to clarify your value proposition and ensure that you’re communicating it clearly and effectively. For a marketing consultant, this means conducting a brand evaluation.

And while many marketers still think of a brand as a logo and color scheme, your brand encompasses every message, call to action, and paragraph of copy you put out into the market. Each communication should work to emphasize the unique benefit you provide to your customers, while every interaction should make good on your brand promise.  If they don’t, it’s time to revise your branding.

A rebranding typically includes:

  • Crafting an identity package that includes logos, fonts, colors, and iconography
  • Revising your websites, landing pages, email templates, digital and print ads, and other campaign assets
  • Designing materials for trade shows, presentations, and other marketing opportunities
  • Verbal identity materials such as copy bibles, elevator pitches, differentiation statements, and more

Branding also includes designing an ideal customer experience, creating strategies to address complaints, and ensuring that your organization receives constant feedback on any shifts in market needs. As this can be quite a large initiative, a good marketing consultant will be able to help you identify where to focus first for maximum results.

Marketing Strategy

3. A marketing consultant should identify the most effective way to reach your audience given your existing resources. 

What Does a Marketing Consultant Do? Strategy and ExecutionWith your brand in place, it’s time to think about how you’ll reach your audience. This is where executive planning sessions and corporate missions meet the reality of available resources. At this stage, your marketing consultant should help you:

  • Identify strategies to break through the market clutter and capture your audience
  • Set goals for your campaigns and determine which performance metrics matter most
  • Segment and prioritize your target audiences
  • Forecast ROI based on budget and campaign opportunities
  • Create unified themes and messaging
  • Identify any operational needs that will be required to deliver on the above

This last point is, in our opinion, one of the most critical yet often-overlooked components to successful marketing. Everyone will have lofty goals in a strategic planning session, but your consultant’s job will be to bring those down to earth and identify whether you have the staff, budget, or tools to accomplish your goals. If not, they’ll need to be built before your campaign is put into motion.

Campaign Execution

4. A marketing consultant should help identify what’s working and what isn’t and lay out a plan for improvement.

What Does A Marketing Consultant Do? Marketing ReportingWe’ve finally arrived at the point where most companies hire a marketing consultant: campaign execution and evaluation. While proper attention to the previous activities we’ve discussed will help your campaigns achieve stronger results, every plan will need to be adjusted based on market response.

During campaign execution, you should expect your marketing consultant to approach things from an analytical perspective. Modern marketing generates a significant amount of data, and testing and measuring different executions and messaging will be critical to optimize your campaigns and generate positive ROI. Your consultant should walk you through the following:

  • How have past campaigns performed?
  • Where do your most profitable customers come from?
  • What messages will go to which audiences at what times (the campaign calendar)?
  • How will effectiveness be tracked?
  • What are our leading campaign indicators?
  • How will progress be reported?
  • What benchmarks must be hit for optimal performance

With these items clarified, it’s time to dig into the nuts and bolts of channel-by-channel marketing to build your media/advertising plan, push that message into the market, and keep a close eye on initial performance.

Your marketing consultant should provide benchmarks for ideal performance in your chosen channel, along with leading indicators required to generate a positive ROI. Your campaigns should include a number of testing elements to identify things like the most effective calls-to-action, the best-performing creative, etc. that can be leveraged and amplified as campaign performance data comes in. And if poor performance is observed, it should be acted on immediately.

 

Conclusion – What Exactly Should a Marketing Consultant Do?

To sum up, your marketing consultant should help you:

  • Gather data and help you understand your performance
  • Assess brand message and experience gaps
  • Identify the most effective approach to reach your audience
  • Continually improve your marketing based on observed performance

We hope this guide has helped you understand exactly what a marketing consultant does and how they can help. If you have any questions or would like to discuss an engagement, contact one of our expert marketing consultants today.  

A (Marketing) History of Valentine's Day

A (Marketing) History of Valentine’s Day

The history of Valentine’s Day goes back thousands of years (you can skip to the end of this post to see just how far). But in the more recent past, marketers have been a driving force in society’s celebration of love. 

Greeting Cards – Inventing a New Category

A Marketing History of Valentine's Day - an early Valentine's Card

One of Esther Howland’s early Valentine’s Day cards

Legend says that Saint Valentine himself sent the first valentine card when writing to an acquaintance shortly before his execution and signing the letter “Your Valentine”. Not too long afterward, in the 1820s, a young woman named Esther Howland was starting the New England Valentine Company to produce finely detailed Valentine’s Day cards of the kind she’d once received from Europe

At the time, Americans mostly circulated hand-made love notes. Recognizing that no one in the United States was producing high-quality Valentine’s Day cards, she began assembling her own cards from silk, lace and other fine ingredients in a spare bedroom. Production quickly expanded to women working from home all over town, eventually growing her business to annual revenues of $100,000.

The marketing lesson for today? If you see a gap in a marketplace, trust your instincts. You’ll always want to research your market of course, which is why Esther relied on a traveling salesperson when she began who relayed customers’ potential interest in her endeavour.

 

Chocolate – Luxury Marketing

A marketing history of Valentine's Day - Cadbury's Fancy Boxes

An example of an early “Fancy Box”

Wondering where those heart-shaped candies first came from? The answer is the famous chocolatier Cadbury, and the reason is, well. marketing. 

Let’s travel back to 1868 when the French were world-renowned chocolatiers and every other company was an also-ran. Richard Cadbury, son of the company’s founder, wanted to highlight Cadbury’s quality in a way that caught people’s attention. He settled on the concept of a “Fancy Box”: a keepsake crafted with such stunning detail that the boxes were prized as luxury items and regifted as keepsakes even after the chocolates were consumed. The heart-shape? His invention as well.

Our Modern Marketing Lesson? Fit your message to your audience and give them an experience. Valentine’s Day, and Cadbury’s, might not be the same if Richard had made boxes from cheap plywood!

 

Valentine’s Today – Mastering Seasonal Marketing

Estimates for consumer spending on Valentine’s Day hover north of $18 billion. And capturing a share of that spending has to be done quickly – you can see from the Google Trends report below that interest spikes quickly for Valentine’s Day shoppers. 

Which brings us to the challenge of seasonal marketing. You’ve no doubt noticed that products for all seasons are showing up in stores earlier and earlier – I saw Valentine’s candy on the shelves in December this year. But it’s being done for a reason: while many very seasonal purchases are done closer to the the date of celebration, you’re trying to generate awareness that the holiday is coming, and hopefully capture a larger share of spending from someone who can’t resist buying a bag of delicious candy hearts just a few days earlier but breaks into the sweets before the big day and has to buy another bag. 

The marketing lesson here? Take a look at when searches for flowers start increasing – two months before Valentine’s Day. Start your seasonal promotions around two months in advance, and you’ll hopefully be capturing mindshare before your competition. 

Marketing a seasonal product? Start promotions ~2 months in advance.

We hope you enjoyed our historical look back at Valentine’s Day. If you’d ever like to have a more modern marketing conversation, why not contact Young Marketing Consulting today

Bonus Valentine’s Day History Quiz

Do we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th because:

A. It was the day Roman emperor Claudius II executed a Christian martyr named Valentinus for secretly marrying soldiers?

B. As celebrated by high-school English favorite Geoffrey Chaucer in his poem “Parlement of Foules“, it was the day of Richard II’s engagement to Anne of Bohemia?

C. It was the day the ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, during which they stripped naked and whipped each other with wolf skin to purge bad luck and infertility?

The answer is…all three. Valentine’s Day as we know it traces its roots to the English tradition of courtly love in the middle ages, so you could argue that B is most correct answer. But B never would have happened if Chaucer hadn’t called out the date as being “Saint Valentine’s Day”, which may or may not have been arbitrarily declared by Pope Gelasius I to help eliminate the pagan Lupercalia festivals he had just outlawed.