According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, most businesses are small and family-owned. Many small businesses struggle to earn enough to hire a full-time marketer let alone a senior marketer. Those that can, often struggle to fully utilize their combined talents. Because of this, they look to hire a marketing consultant to help address these pains - they still need to grow after all.

Here are five frequently asked questions people have when in the search for marketing consultants:

1. What is the role of a marketing consultant?

Marketing consultants help businesses create and execute marketing plans. They identify business opportunities, manage budgets, build and run campaigns, and provide guidance and training where required.

For example, here at Sharp & Bell Consulting, we work specifically with small business owners to overhaul their marketing efforts and position them for long-term growth. We implement simple yet powerful web analytics, plan and execute integrated marketing campaigns, and help them train as they grow.

2. What knowledge and skills should marketing consultants have?

No two marketing consultants will have the same skills and experience - that's a fact. Some choose to specialize and focus on specific industries, platforms, and practices. Others focus on marketing itself. Regardless of whether they specialize or not, there is a standard set of skills, knowledge, and experience all seasoned marketing consultants share.

Skills, knowledge, and requirements for marketing consultants include:

  • Business skills to manage their own consultancy.
  • Short and long term strategic planning.
  • Budget establishment and management.
  • Required certifications for their area of practice.
  • Deep knowledge of the laws around their area of practice.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Strong analytical abilities.

3. When should I hire a marketing consultant?

You should hire a marketing consultant whenever you feel your company or team could be doing better, but you aren't sure how to get there. Marketing consultants are available to solve just about any problem. Furthermore, they are often much more cost-effective than finding and hiring new staff or outsourcing work to a freelancer.

Marketing consultants can bring a trove of knowledge and experience to your team. Not to mention, a fresh set of eyes to challenges. More importantly, they are often able to complete projects far more efficiently than part- or full-time staff. After all, they are a business too. Their profitability depends on it. When in doubt, it never hurts to reach out to a marketing consultant to see what options you have.

4. What should I look for in a marketing consultant?

When seeking the help of a marketing consultant, the most important thing you must do is identify whether they have the skills and abilities to help you achieve your business goals. Their background and motivations are often just as valuable as their certifications and portfolio.

You will want to:

  • Explain your business goals and see if they have a reasonable way to approach them.
  • Determine whether they will try to lock you into a long term agreement.
  • Explore their pricing options for various services to get a sense of how expensive the full breadth of their services will be.
  • Communicate your expectations for things like communication and timelines.
  • Help them do what they do best unimpeded. If they discover

A common mistake many small business owners make when seeking a marketing consultant is that they look for a local consultant who works with businesses in the same niche. Most professional consultants are bound by non-competition clauses. Unless you operate a business in a highly specialized niche or with highly specialized software, it's unlikely you don't need a specialist. Finding one will be very difficult and often much more expensive than is necessary.

5. Where can I find a Marketing Consultant?

The best marketing consultants know how to market themselves - after all, it is their job. While we are a marketing consultancy firm, we aren't the only one in the area and we primarily only serve small businesses in and around Vancouver, BC. You are welcome to reach out to us if this is not you, but we may recommend a better-suited consultant to suit your needs.

If you need to find a marketing consultant for a large business or you are located somewhere else in Canada, we recommend checking out Bark.com. Submit your requirements and let the consultants find you.

If you live in the US, take a look at LinkedIn Profinder. It works much the same as Bark.com but helps you find specialists based upon their LinkedIn.

If all else fails, browse the web for marketing consultants that fit your specific needs. There are many out there that would love to work with you.

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