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As the owner of a small business, there are a number of occasions when you might be considering the use of an external marketing consultant.

  • Are you are looking for business growth?
  • Do you want to reverse recent business decline?
  • Do you want to launch new products or services?
  • Do you feel that the energy you are putting into your business is not turning into sufficient sales/profits? Could your current resources be more appropriately targeted?

Are you are looking for business growth?

Nearly all businesses are looking for business growth but perhaps the tactics you have been employing have not been delivering the results you expect. Or perhaps your competitors are acquiring more new business than you.

Marketplaces are constantly changing shape. There can be a number of changes taking place that slowly eat into your current marketing spend. Therefore an external view of your current plans could be invaluable.

Do you want to reverse recent business decline?

Things are definitely not going as planned. You could argue that your reduced profits do not allow you the luxury of employing an external marketing consultant. But this could be a seriously false economy. A short (and inexpensive) consultation might be of help; perhaps the answer is to cut loose on certain products and focus on others.

Employ a consultant on a fixed, project-based price rather than on an hourly rate. This can be a very cost effective way to undertake a project. Alternatively, you can get the consultant to teach or coach your staff to do the projects longer-term.

Do you want to launch new products or services?

This may mean you are entering into new market sectors in which your company’s experience of marketing is ineffective. The identification and development of a clearly defined (and communicable) competitive advantage is invaluable and all the time spent up front developing this can reap greater rewards.

Do you feel that the energy you are putting into your business is not turning into sufficient sales/profits? Could your current resources be more appropriately targeted?

Spending huge budgets on one area of your business may be a luxury, in terms of resources – man-hours or assets – compared with the sales or profits you are generating. With small budgets, you could probably achieve more with external input and expertise.

Selecting a Marketing Consultant

The Institute of Management Consultancy has produced the following guidelines for those wishing to employ management consultants. These “ten golden rules” are not prescriptive, but they should guide you towards making the most informed decisions resulting in successful completion of the project, and apply as much to marketing consultants as they do to management consultants.

  • Clearly define the objectives that you hope to achieve.
  • Consult with others in your organisation to agree those objectives.
  • Short-list no more than three consultants, and ask them to provide written proposals.
  • Brief the consultants properly.
  • See the individual consultant who will do the job and make sure that the ‘chemistry’ is right.
  • Ask for references from the chosen consultant(s) and follow them up.
  • Review and agree a written contract before the assignment starts.
  • Be involved and in touch during the assignment.
  • Ensure that the consultant does not save surprises for the final report.
  • Implement the recommendations and involve your management as well as the consultant.

We would also recommend that you choose a consultant with up-to-date accreditation from their professional body. In terms of marketing  – this means a Chartered Marketer that will ensure that you have someone who is at least a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, though a Fellow would be a better option.

If you want to find out more about this, please feel free to contact us. One of the many services we can offer is to provide your with a consultancy selection service – it normally excludes us from the tendering process, but you will find our expertise and insight can help you shortlist the best consultants.

Glossary: American Marketing Association, Boston Matrix, Branding, Brief, Call to Action (CTA), Campaign, Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), Chartered Marketer, Competitive Advantage, Digital Marketing, Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM), International Marketing, Internet, Key Account Management, Market Research Society (MRS), Marketing, Networking, Return on Investment (ROI), SEO Consultant, Trust, Trust Lifecycle

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