It can be a tough reality to face for some small business owners, but eventually every business is going to hit a growth ceiling where networking and referrals will no longer be enough to move the needle. Hiring a full time chief marketing officer or other senior in-house resource to launch a marketing department is also likely not feasible out the gate. It’s at this point where the sensible choice for small business owners is to enlist the help of a marketing consultant.
Marketing consultants offer specialized expertise in consumer behavior, psychology, product development, advertising, and more. They can help you refine your offerings, advertise your services, and break through a growth plateau. In this article we will talk a little bit about what a marketing consultant does and how they are a smart choice for growth businesses.
Online Lead Generation
Generating leads online is going to be one of the most cost effective ways to grow and is also highly scalable. Direct mail, flyers, billboards, radio ads, and other methods of spreading the word are still effective ways to develop your market but they can be expensive and can have very little feedback. This makes them a terrible fit for developing a stream of leads from a cold start.
Consider the following – Just last month I had a conversation with a prospect who had spent $700 a month for 3 months on a radio ad (not including the cost of developing the commercial) and got 0 calls.
$2,100+ dollars and 0 calls, what a waste!
What most business owners may not realize is that burning cash for 0 calls isn’t even the worst part about that situation. The worst part is that this particular business owner spent $2,100 on advertising that didn’t work and didn’t even know why.
Compare that to the scenario of spending $2,100 on pay per click advertising and not generating any leads (an extremely unlikely scenario). With this method you will get substantial feedback with a rich history of keywords that generated impressions, and clicks. You will get information on estimated age, gender, and other audience characteristics of people that interacted with your campaigns.
You will also get feedback on messaging that resonates with your audience and a host of other data that gives you clues as to what works and doesn’t work in the market.
An experienced marketing consultant will know that modern marketing is an exercise in data mining and as such will guide you into launching a digital marketing program. Once that is established, data and lessons learned can be used to expand into additional channels such as direct mail, billboards, and the like.
A Quick Story On Most Small Business Websites
They stink! End of story.
That may sound a little harsh because there are some really great small business websites out there, but the overwhelming majority of them are just not very good for a couple of reasons:
- Not enough content
- Not search optimized
- Not mobile optimized
- Not conversion optimized
- Poor graphics
- Slow load times
- Littered with cross browser styling issues
A lot of small business websites are of the GoDaddy/Wix/Squarespace do it yourself variety. These certainly serve a purpose for a bootstrapping company but don’t represent a serious attempt at digital marketing that an established company needs.
If your website isn’t up to snuff a marketing consultant will likely want to redesign or rebuild your existing site. Your website is a critical component of a digital marketing infrastructure because it’s where you funnel traffic to for the “close”. This traffic will come from numerous channels such as social media, pay per click campaigns, email marketing, and organic search hits. Investment in channel promotions will be handicapped if your website isn’t an adequate quality.
Designing and building a quality website is no trivial task. It can involve designers, developers, project managers, seo resources and more. Marketing Consultants will know how to bring together these resources to get the job done right.
Developing a Lead Generation Plan
With a quality website in place, consultants can work with you to develop a marketing plan that matches the characteristics of your industry and sales goals. The prescription for each company is going to be different but will leverage some or all of the following in varying degrees.
- Referral Marketing
- Other Content Marketing (Info-graphics, Videos, Podcasts, etc)
- Search Engine Marketing
- Display Advertising
- Pay Per Click Campaigns
- Social Media
- Campaign Landing Pages
Marketing Consultants will typically have broad cross-industry expertise that will allow them to zero in on the tactics that work for your specific business more quickly. For instance products and services that are tangible and visual typically do well on social media (think remodeled kitchens and beauty products), where as intangible conceptual products and services that require a bit more explanation and consideration before a purchase tend to do well with blogging and SEO (IT Services, Legal, etc).
Marketing Consultant Value
Developing an executing a marketing plan is a complex task. Modern marketing technology stacks can easily be comprised of 10-20 SaaS tools across a broad range of skill sets and there are over 7,000 marketing tools to choose from.
With this sort of complexity and learning curve it clearly makes sense to bring in an outside hire if your internal team doesn’t have marketing expertise and even established companies with large in house marketing teams supplement their efforts with consultants.
Bringing in outside help is never cheap, but it certainly can be a cost effective option to keep your pipeline full and is especially cost effective when compared to the alternative of watching it dry up.
Hire The Right Marketing Consultant
Not all consultants are created equal. Make sure you are vetting the expertise that the consultant brings to the table. Be sure to ask questions and follow up with references to get the most bang for your buck.
Make sure the consultant aligns with your marketing budget and that they are suited to the task at hand. Don’t hire a specialist in one area to tackle launching a digital marketing program and don’t hire a generalist to tackle one specific area of demand generation for your business.
Developing a relationship with the right marketing consultant can be a huge strategic asset for your business. Aside from helping you launch a marketing program they can help you identify and plan for resources as the needs of your team grow and help you scale your marketing efforts to make sure your growth continues as far as it can go.
Questions? Give us a call.