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The Marketing Consulting Industry

Marketing consulting is a thriving global industry with millions of practitioners and businesses worldwide. The marketing industry is valued at $55 billion in the U.S., and employs more than an estimated 400,000 marketing consultants in 220,000 marketing firms and businesses.

Although traditional marketing practices are still widely used, the industry is primarily centered around digital marketing. Digital marketing consulting is concentrated in online marketing strategy, where marketers leverage channels like SEO, content marketing and PPC to drive sales and traffic.

Digital Marketing Consultants

Digital marketing consultants act as partners with their customers and aren't burdened by company bureaucracy or corporate conflict. Their main goal is to bring value to marketing departments by helping optimize digital marketing channels.

Digital marketing consultants drive sales using paid channels, automation, programmatic advertising and lead generation campaigns. Their technical hands-on experience helps sales teams acquire qualified leads, driving long-term and short-term consumer lead conversion activities.

Why do Companies Hire Marketing Consultants?

World-renowned brands, startups and small businesses invest in marketing consultant services to fulfill gaps in their advertising and sales initiatives. Many firms take on the full responsibility of planning and executing digital marketing strategies, which frees companies and consulting clients to focus on other strategies.

Full-service consulting businesses handle the bulk of digital marketing strategy. Their services can improve brand image, increase sales conversions and create engaging customer experiences.

What is the Difference Between Marketing Consultants and Agencies?

Digital marketing consultants and agencies specialize in three marketing plan fundamentals.

  • Strategy
  • Planning
  • Execution

The main difference is that digital marketing consulting services provide two of these services on average, whereas agencies provide all three services. Some digital marketing consultants are capable of providing all three, but only agencies consistently offer all three to consumers.

Marketing consulting firms work mostly on strategy and planning. Some consultants replace strategy with execution.

When Should I Work with Consulting Firms or Consultants?

  • Determining product-market fit or target audiences - Consultants are great resources for early-stage clients with little funding. They practice in online marketing and can help clients identify target audiences and figure out the right product-market fit.
  • A strategy and plan needs execution - When a CMO or marketing manager created a digital strategy and plan, yet needs marketers to execute it. Hiring execution-focused consultants to work your social media, advertising or SEO channels can kickstart plans into action.

Marketing Consulting Professions and Responsibilities

  • Marketing specialist
  • Social media marketer
  • Influencer marketing
  • VP of marketing
  • Marketing communications manager
  • Marketing coordinator
  • Digital marketing consultant
  • Content marketing specialist
  • Advertising lead

The range of consulting responsibilities include:

  • Project management.
  • Planning, implementing and managing marketing campaigns.
  • Leading marketing strategy sessions.
  • Partnering with contractors and firms to expand advertising reach.
  • Managing brand image and tone.
  • Engaging in public relations efforts.
  • Researching consumer satisfaction and documenting feedback.
  • Conducting market research and analyze competitors.
  • Promoting and strengthening company culture with internal communications initiatives.
  • Engaging in recruitment branding to increase awareness among future employees.
  • Developing full-cycle content marketing strategies.
  • Promote lead generation activities for sales.
  • Writing copy for websites, blog posts, landing pages and social media.

Types of Marketing Firms

  • Digital Marketing - Concentrated solely on online marketing strategies, these companies focus on social media marketing, email marketing and other digital marketing endeavors. Responsibilities include SEO optimization, social media management, email campaign management and launching ecommerce services.
  • Direct Marketing - These firms focus on direct mail campaign strategies. They typically conduct a deep analysis plan and present strategies for implementation. The firm will mail items on a business' behalf and measure customer response.
  • Marketing Communications - Primarily concerned with communications materials like brochures, case studies, product guide, newsletters and more. Services include copywriting, social media marketing and digital advertising.
  • Brand Firms - Brand firms provide the visual services of design agencies, but they focus on cultivating their client's brand image. Their main goal is to define a business' market position.
  • Channel Marketing - Digital marketing consultants focused on pushing specific channels. They're useful for startups or other businesses who want to focus marketing efforts on specific channels like social media.
  • Freelancers/Individual Consultants - Individual or small teams offering digital marketing consulting. They typically practice in one or two marketing tactics. Risk and reward is high when partnering with freelancers. Good for singular projects but not for large marketing campaigns.

The Benefits of Enlisting Consulting Firms

  • More cost-effective - Hiring in-house marketers can prove expensive for medium to small businesses. In-house staff, benefits and training quickly increases marketing budgets whereas most digital marketing agencies compensate for those costs. Partnering with marketing consultants save businesses valuable time and money.
  • Firms are equipped with the latest software and systems - It's a digital marketing firm's responsibility to stay on top of leading trends and software. The shifted responsibility frees large and small businesses from paying subscriptions and hefty licensing fees for software. Performance-focused digital consulting firms use the latest analytics software to provide high-quality marketing services.
  • Consulting firms bring fresh ideas and new perspectives - Successful marketing strategies require innovation and fresh ideas to stay competitive. New outlooks and ideas can add new life to digital marketing campaigns. Marketing experts bring fresh skillsets across multiple marketing disciplines to the table from PPC specialists to SEO strategists.
  • Consultants can teach new skills to employees - Working with consultants and specialists presents valuable learning opportunities for employees to improve their own expertise. A business' employees can learn valuable SEO tactics, content marketing strategies and how to effectively measure ROI from expert consultants.
  • Reduces the risk of overworking employees - Consultants can be quickly onboarded when a client loses employees or during times of peak demand. Firms can take on advertising and digital marketing endeavors. The quick uptake ensures brand awareness stays consistent and prevents long-term interruptions to vital campaigns.

Finding the Right Marketing Consulting Firm

Finding the right marketing consultant for your business requires a complete understanding of your goals and objectives. Marketing consulting firm partnerships are expensive investments that determine the future of your business.

When seeking marketing consultants consider:

  • Reviewing their clients, portfolios and project examples.
  • Examining their approach to digital marketing.
  • How many long-term partnerships they retain.
  • If the marketing consulting firm has experience in your industry.
  • How many digital marketing channels they own.
  • Consulting consumer reviews.

Reputable marketing consultants won't pressure you into services you don't need. Experienced marketers focus more on delivering actionable strategies than driving services to gain sales.

Established Marketing Consulting Firms

  • Accenture Interactive - A New York-based firm specializing in content marketing, ecommerce and design.
  • PwC Digital Services - An agency focused on digital transformation, digital strategy and operations.
  • Deloitte Digital - Deloitte's creative digital consultancy wing focuses on verticals in cybersecurity, strategy and logistics.
  • EquiBrand Consulting - a 15-year-old consultancy that fuses data-driven, analytical approaches with creativity to execute engaging brand initiatives.
  • BBDO - A digital marketing and advertising agency under the Omnicom umbrella.
  • McKinsey Digital - Offers consulting services to consumers in multiple digital marketing channels including software, analytics and design.
  • IKON Marketing Consultants - Provides world-class digital marketing consultants and services to consumers. The firm specializes in the healthcare, retail and automotive industries.
  • Customer Magnetism - Initially an SEO team, they quickly grew and expanded their expertise to full digital marketing services.

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