Confessions of a Marketing Consultant

I’ve been in marketing – as both a client and a marketing consultant – for the past 25 years.

I’ve worked in the marketing teams of Kraft Foods / Maxwell House, Hain-Celestial and Frontier Natural Products and managed multiple vendors and consultants. I always took the steps needed  to bridge the gap between our internal and external teams. When I thought the grass was greener, I jumped to the agency side – working with clients such as Lucent Technologies, NJ Lottery, Jewelers of America and Paddington Brands.

As a consultant, I work to make sure my clients stretch themselves to make sure that the “project” they want me to work on will really hit the “goals” they have in place – which is not always the case.

Make Sure You Know What You Want From Your Marketing Consultant

As a marketing consultant I know that my clients wear a lot of hats in their business – it’s why they hired me.

But I also know that if my clients don’t know a thing about marketing there is very little I can effectively do for them – even if they throw tons of money at me.

Are marketing consultants able to help you even if they don’t have all of the information they need?

Well – sort of.

Yes, if you tell a consultant, “I want a Facebook page” they could certainly do that for you … but if you truly want that Facebook page to work for you (bring you more customers, improve your engagement with your clients, increase your bottom line revenue), you need to know WHY you want a Facebook page.

Knowing Your “WHY” Will Help You Develop The Best Marketing For Your Business

Why Business Owners Need To Educate Themselves About How To Market Their Business

And you can only answer the “WHY” when you understand the fundamentals of good marketing.

I’m sure that if you’re a business owner reading this you’re thinking, “But I don’t have the time to earn a marketing degree – it’s why I hire consultants!”.

Yes, you ARE strapped for time, but the good news is, you don’t need to earn a marketing degree in order to effectively manage your marketing consultants.

Even though marketing has changed a LOT in the past 10 years, there are some things that stay the same – and it’s important that you know what these things are, both to manage marketing consultants and to grow your business.

Today it’s impossible to grow a successful business without understanding the fundamentals of marketing.

Today it’s impossible to grow a successful business without understanding the fundamentals of marketing.

For example – how do you “talk” to your customers on social media?

How do you address negative posts and reviews?

How do you encourage positive online interactions?

While a consultant can help you address those questions, you need to have built the foundation in your own skill set so that you know you have to work with marketing to create an Action Plan for Social Media and develop documentation that outlines your Social Voice (the language and tone you use on Social Media).

I’m sure you’ve been in this situation…

On the flip side, imagine this…

Your phone rings and it’s a consultant promising you they will get you to “#1 in Google!”.

That sounds pretty great, right?

But, without having a strong foundation in marketing you won’t know to ask questions such as:

“What keywords will result in a Page #1?”

“Are my customers searching on those keywords?”

“How long will I be #1 in that keyword and what happens when someone knocks me out of that spot?”

The Power of Knowing Your Customers

But when you have educated yourself in marketing fundamentals you will know your customers as well as you know your family – because you know that it’s important to do the work up front to understand that your customers are more than just an age range, gender and marital status.

When you know your customers you know how they will search you out on Google – and when that phone rings with that salesperson on the other side you will be able to ask the questions that will reveal whether or not you should participate in that salesperson’s service.

Knowledge is Power. Marketing isn’t a mystery that needs to be solved…

Knowledge is Power. Marketing isn’t a mystery (although some consultants may make you feel that it is) that needs to be solved.

With the right marketing knowledge you will be able to:

  1. Choose the best marketing consultant for your goals – do you need someone to help you write content? Build a social media presence? Once you know the marketing fundamentals (and know your customers) you will be able to choose the right partners that will help you achieve your goals.
  2. Know your customers better than your family – do the work to build the best picture of your customers that you can share with your Customer Service Team, Marketing, Sales, etc
  3. Understand the right marketing goals for YOUR business – when you have the knowledge you will begin to be PROactive versus REactive when it comes to your marketing

In today’s world of marketing there are a LOT of consultants that specialize in one thing.

Maybe it’s Facebook, or Google, or Content Marketing.

But as a business owner it’s up to you to know the overall umbrella concepts of marketing so that you know if and when to hire a specialist to help.

Also, when you know the fundamentals you’re less likely to chase after the next “shiny marketing object”.

When you have your customers, your competition and your goals well established, you can easily look at a marketing opportunity, run it past your internal framework, and make an educated decision about whether or not that opportunity should be pursued.

So are you ready to take your marketing to the next level?

-Sue

ProfilePic Sue Laurent, Marketing Coach for Small Business – “I Teach Non-Marketers About Marketing Their Business”