Marketing Consulting: How To Start a Marketing Consulting Business (5 Steps)

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If you’re an expert marketer, you can take your experience, expertise, and skills to start a marketing consulting business.

We know because we’ve helped many consultants do exactly that.

Consider the story of Earline Lagueruela who was the first woman to ever run an ad agency in San Antonio back in 1976.

Earline had more than thirty years of experience by the time she sold her agency. She used her marketing knowledge and expertise to start her own marketing consulting firm.

Now, she helps advertising and communications firms land contracts with the federal government — and her business is thriving.

As a marketing consultant, you can do the same thing: taking what you’ve learned about marketing and offering your expertise to other organizations.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to create your own profitable marketing consulting business by leveraging your experience.

Ready? Let’s dive in…

What Is a Marketing Consultant?

A marketing consultant helps client businesses create effective marketing campaigns that will reach their target audience and turn them into loyal customers.

What are some reasons why a business might hire a marketing consultant?

  • To identify their ideal client and develop a marketing plan for reaching them.
  • To improve their branding to increase sales and retention.
  • To increase the effectiveness of their advertising and marketing efforts.
  • To gain insight into current marketing best practices.

Here’s an example from a marketing consultant (and one of our Clarity Coaching clients).

Donna Bates knows from her background as a senior executive in marketing at News Corp Australia that marketing is part of a larger growth strategy.

She works with companies to help them create marketing plans that nurture customer relationships — and thus contribute to their overall goal of growing the business.

As one of her clients says on her website, “Donna has a rare gift of finding order in chaos, structuring or re-structuring businesses to achieve their strategic vision and delivering results through a strong organizational, operational, and marketing tempo.”

Examples of Marketing Consulting Services

Marketing consultants help client companies with their marketing initiatives. However, some marketing consultants specialize in specific areas of marketing.

Through her consulting business, B2GSA, Earline Lagueruela focuses on providing tailored marketing services to help clients win lucrative contracts with the U.S. federal government.

This is a highly specialized area of need that requires advanced knowledge about putting together U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule submission packages, a technical process that Earline and her team know very well.

With her years of experience in this specialized area of marketing, Earline was well-aware of how difficult it can be for companies to navigate the complicated path to becoming federal government contract holders.

So she took that know-how and put together a team of former government contracting officers and federal government marketing experts to help businesses win those contracts.

As one of her clients said, “Companies pursuing a GSA schedule will not find a better value in the market.”

5 Steps to Become a Marketing Consultant

So how can you do what Donna Bates and Earline Lagueruela have done and turn your marketing expertise into a profitable consulting business?

Follow these five steps:

1) Get specific about your ideal client

Marketing is a vast field that comprises all activities used to promote the buying or selling of any product or service.

Potential clients exist in practically every industry, and businesses of every kind need help with marketing.

It’s impossible to offer your consulting services to everyone. If you aim too broadly, you will only water down your message.

Therefore, the first thing to do is narrow your focus and target a very specific kind of client. Think carefully about who your ideal client is, so you can reach them with magnetic messaging that speaks directly to their needs.

For example, Earline Lagueruela initially aimed a little more broadly with her marketing message. But over time, she realized she needed to refine and clarify a strategy for long-term future growth. So she honed her focus on advertising and communications firms seeking to land contracts with the federal government.

In her career, Donna Bates began working in marketing. She gradually shifted toward corporate restructuring. Eventually, she decided to focus her consulting business on companies that need marketing help as part of an overall structuring or restructuring effort.

With a clearly defined ideal client, you will have a much easier time communicating the value of your services. And doing so will enable you to set higher consulting fees.

2) Write messaging that attracts your ideal client

Magnetic Messaging is tailored to reach your ideal client’s needs impactfully so when they come across your content, they will feel like you understand the challenges they face. They’ll be more receptive to learning how your expertise can solve their unique challenges.

For example, a communications company might be struggling to figure out how to win a lucrative federal contract.

They don’t realize that there are consultants who specialize in helping with this area until they come across messaging from B2GSA.

Then they think, “Wow, there’s an expert out there who can actually help us prepare our GSA Schedule Contract proposal. This is going to make it so much easier to win that contract.”

To create impactful messaging, we recommend using the framework: Problem – Action – Results.

Create a list of the marketing challenges that you know your ideal clients struggle with:

  • Maybe they’ve only been advertising in a scattershot approach and they’re looking to create a comprehensive marketing strategy.
  • Maybe they are trying to figure out which area of marketing to focus on to get the most benefit for their marketing spend.
  • Maybe they’re trying to create more brand awareness but they have a hard time juggling a website, multiple social media profiles, email marketing, and so on.

In your message, let your client know that you understand the specific challenges they are dealing with.

Then, explain how you use your own experience, wisdom, and skills to help clients just like them overcome those challenges and succeed.

Finally, share the kinds of results they can expect to achieve by implementing your consulting offer.

  • Problem: Your ideal client is not getting a lot of engagement through social media despite their best efforts.
  • Solution: You offer a two-day seminar that helps organizations boost visibility and engagement online, identify their most relevant social media platforms, and reach their untapped potential.
  • Result: Clients who have attended the workshop have experienced, on average, 40 percent higher engagement on social media from their target audience.

We’ve made this process easy to understand and implement. Simply refer to our “Magnetic Message Formula” which will guide you to creating messages that powerfully attract your ideal client.

The basic formula looks like this:

I help [WHO] to [solve WHAT problem] so they can [see WHAT result].

Remember, a marketing consultant’s job is to help their clients create and implement the most effective strategies for reaching their target audience — whether that audience happens to be retail customers, business leaders, or the federal government.

3) Create and price your strategic offer

The value you bring as a marketing consultant should be easy to communicate: your ideal client has some marketing-related challenge, and you are going to provide a tailor-made solution to help them overcome it.

Since your expertise can directly address their issue and help them achieve their desired outcome, your ideal client will gladly pay your consulting fees.

However, you need to justify the amount you charge by clearly communicating the positive impact your services will make for their organization.

For example, if you can boost the visibility of their online ads by 50 percent, that’s going to make a huge difference in their growth.

Communicate that clearly up front and the client will have no problem paying your fees.

We strongly recommend that you avoid using an hourly fee structure. When you charge by the hour, you don’t get paid for the work you do “off the clock,” which means it won’t cover most of the work you do to build your business.

If you want to create an income that will cover both the tangible and intangible value you create for your clients, use value-based fees instead.

4) Rev up your marketing engine

Chances are, many of your ideal clients don’t realize just how much value marketing consultants deliver, so they may not be looking for you. Therefore, it’s up to you to reach out to them and communicate that value.

Spread the word and demonstrate your expertise. This is how you get the attention of your ideal clients and earn their trust. That’s what effective marketing does.

And when they start looking for an expert to help, you’ll be top of mind.

To deliver with your marketing marketing, we recommend using Outreach, Follow-up, and Authority-building.

  • Outreach – By sharing valuable content with your ideal clients through LinkedIn or email, you add value to their lives and generate interest in your services.
  • Follow-up – You can then continue to add more value over time by sending those same clients direct messages or emails on marketing topics relevant to their industry or their niche.
  • Authority-building – Finally, by publishing valuable content on your consulting website and social media platforms, you will position yourself as a marketing expert. This will make your outreach and follow-up efforts more effective.

When you combine outreach, follow-up, and authority-building, you continually build your relationship with your ideal clients and open doors of opportunity for meaningful conversations.

5) Create meaningful conversations

What’s the biggest indicator that your marketing engine is churning along effectively?

Your ideal clients are responding to the value you provide and reaching out to have meaningful conversations about their marketing needs.

In these conversations, your primary goal should not be simply to close the deal. Instead, focus on trying to help the client understand their problem more clearly and envision their desired outcome.

If they agree that you provide the right solution, then (and only then) can you make them an offer.

Marketing Consultant Case Study

So you’re probably wondering how much you should charge your clients for your marketing consulting services.

More important, how much will your clients be willing to pay?

It’s not uncommon for marketing consultants in our Clarity Coaching Program to charge clients a monthly retainer of $10,000 or more, and a lot more for highly specialized services. A multi-month project can easily in a six-figure value-based fee.

Of course, your income will vary depending on the services you offer and the kinds of clients you work with.

You will only earn this high fee if you get away from an hourly rate and begin using per-project fees instead.

Let’s look at the example of Donna Bates.

Through her extensive experience, Donna recognized that marketing is often one vital piece of the puzzle when companies are looking to restructure to better achieve their strategic vision.

So her consultancy has developed a “4-Step Activate Strategy” that links a client’s strategic plan with their marketing plan.

They speak to this issue directly: “What if you had a strategic plan and the mentoring needed to tangibly take you toward your dream of growth, time, and freedom as a business owner? That’s my mission.”

Donna credits our Clarity Coaching Program with helping her communicate the value of her services so clearly that she was able to raise her prices 10x higher — without a single client balking at the price increase.

And she quickly landed eleven more clients at this higher rate.

How did she do it?

She followed the same steps we’ve shared with you in this article with the help of her coach.

Get Help Starting & Growing Your Marketing Consulting Business

You might find it easy to market your client’s businesses.

But if you’re like many marketing consultants, you find it difficult to market your own business.

And just like your clients benefit from your outside perspective, you’d benefit from ours.

We’ve been marketing consultants ourselves. And we’ve helped many other marketing consultants like you build incredible marketing consulting businesses.

In our Clarity Coaching program, our coaches have helped over 1000 consultants to build a more strategic, profitable, and scalable, consulting business.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CLARITY COACHING

We’ll work hands-on with you to develop a strategic plan and then dive deep and work through your ideal client clarity, strategic messaging, consulting offers, fees and pricing, business model optimization, and help you to set up your marketing engine and lead generation system to consistently attract ideal clients.

You’ll learn how to generate more profit with every project you take on — and how to land more clients than ever before. Learn more about Clarity Coaching and get in touch to talk about your situation and goals.

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