If you’ve ever struggled with your marketing, chances are, you’ve considered hiring a consultant to help you turn things around.
And sometimes, it absolutely works. A consultant’s expertise, combined with their fresh outside perspective, can help you make powerful changes and break through plateaus.
But not always. Hiring a marketing consultant doesn’t guarantee better results in your marketing. In fact, it’s often an expensive way to change a lot of things that don’t really move the needle.
Anyone can call themselves a “marketing consultant.” They make big promises and charge even bigger fees. They offer up vague recommendations without communicating a clear plan. And worst of all, the results never seem to come.
As Norman Augustine, the former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, said, “All too many consultants, when asked, ‘What is 2 and 2?’ respond, ‘What do you have in mind?’”
Don’t settle for squishy advice and lackluster results. Make sure the marketing consultant you hire isn’t making these 3 major mistakes.
And if you ARE a marketing consultant or want to become one, consider this your guide to becoming the kind of advisor who’s proven and highly sought-after.
Sign #1: They don’t start with a clear and understandable message
Sadly, most marketing today is a waste of money. Marketers in small and large businesses alike are spending enormous amounts of money on collateral that isn’t converting into more sales or more customers.
Why is that? Well, it’s a messaging issue. Many consultants will dig right into creating sleek new marketing materials and a SnapChat strategy, skipping right over the fundamentals of messaging: How do you benefit your customers? What makes you different from the other guys? Why does it matter?
Make sure your marketing consultant starts by helping you craft a clear marketing message. This is the best, easiest, and most inexpensive way to increase customer engagement and grow your business.
Crafting a clear marketing message is the best, easiest, and most inexpensive way to increase customer engagement and grow your business.
A good advisor will make sure your overall brand message is clear, concise, and easy to understand. If they don’t start here, that’s a red flag. Ask to see the kind of messaging work they’ve done for other clients before they even come on board. And if the whole idea of messaging seems foreign to them, find a different advisor.
Advice for consultants:
If your client struggles to talk about what they offer, if they are confused about how to talk about what they do, or if their team is communicating a number of different ideas, then they need help with messaging. Focus your initial efforts on distilling the client’s message into two or three sentences that describe what they offer, how they enhance a customer’s life, and what the customer needs to do to buy it. In fact, we teach our StoryBrand Certified Guides how to do this.
Sign #2: They don’t know how to write copy that sells
If your consultant has helped you clarify your message, great. That’s the foundation you need for success.
But a clear message won’t help you until it’s executed well. That means you need compelling sales copy — words that motivate people to act.
Without strong copywriting skills, consultants aren’t able to deliver results to their clients.
That means all their strategic recommendations for email nurturing campaigns, sales letters, website copy, Facebook ads, and blog posts won’t actually grow your business.
Once your marketing consultant helps you clarify your clear message, they must execute that clear message across all channels of your brand.
Great marketing consultants know WHAT to say, WHEN to say it, and HOW to say it. They typically employ proven copywriting frameworks that help them do this over and over again.
Ask to see examples of your consultant’s copywriting work. And if the words don’t strike you as clear and persuasive, you haven’t found the right consultant yet.
Advice for consultants:
Your ideas and strategies can only take you so far as a consultant. You need to be able to execute those ideas beautifully. That means crafting great copy that brings your strategy to life. Invest in this part of your business by studying the copywriting formulas that have been proven to get results. Then, adapt those formulas to the unique needs and brands you work with. We teach our StoryBrand Certified Guides how to do this.
Sign #3: They don’t have a marketing plan that works
Many marketing consultants swoop in and download a lot knowledge and strategy, and then move on to the next thing. You’re left with ideas that sound good (and that cost you a lot of money), but you have no idea how to actually put them into action.
Marketing consultants who deliver results have another thing in common: they give you a plan. Whether they execute it or help you do it yourself, they lay out a clear path that shows you how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
If you don’t have a proven marketing plan that results in increased sales, you don’t have the best marketing consultant.
Advice for consultants:
When you lay out a clear plan that works, your clients will trust you. Plus, you’ll be confident in your ability to deliver on what you promise. Creating a marketing plan that drives major growth for a business isn’t all that complicated. In fact, your marketing plan can be as simple as these six steps:
1. Clarify the company’s message
2. Wireframe an online sales page
3. Create a lead-generating PDF
4. Write a series of automated emails that endear customers
5. End the email campaign with an effective sales letter
6. Gather customer testimonials
At StoryBrand, we used this exact marketing plan to grow our company’s annual revenue from $250k to 3.1 million in just three years. During that time, we didn’t spend a single dollar on advertising. That’s the power of having a clear marketing plan that you can help your customers execute. We teach our StoryBrand Certified Guides how to do this.
With the wrong marketing consultant, you won’t just not make money. You’ll actually waste money on bad strategy and overblown fees.
The good news? Now that you know how to tell the right marketing consultant from the wrong one, you can hire the kind of outside advisor with the skills to actually grow your business.