Brand Strategy Consultant vs Marketing Manager: Which One Is Right for Your Business?

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Everywhere we look, there are consultants. In the field of brand and marketing strategy there are a dime a dozen, so, if you are considering a brand and marketing consultant, who do you trust? How do you know if they will lead you with integrity and profitable results?

We figured it would help you if we took a moment of your time and addressed common concerns about consultants and consultancy agencies. We would also like to share what to look for in a good agency.

Concern #1: Consultants are people who cannot find a real job

There is a perception that consultants do not like to be tied down with a 9 to 5 job. They do not want to answer to anyone. Therefore, they cannot find a job.

In reality: Good consultants become consultants because they are intelligent men and women who have a value that is not suited for one company or position. They are thinkers, strategists, and problem-solvers who thrive in different environments. They are hard workers who bring value and real solutions to their clients instead of lip service laced with buzzwords.

Concern #2: Consultants are glorified freelancers

When you hear the term freelancer, you may think of a self-employed individual that you can hire on a per-project basis for a low cost. Calling oneself a consultant is just an excuse to charge a higher fee for the same type of work.

In reality: Freelancers are task-oriented and fit well for projects. Consultant agencies are strategic partners who bring value in ways that freelancers are not equipped with. Consultants have the experience to walk with you through brand strategy, marketing, reputation, and problem-solving. If they are tactical, rather than strategic, in their approach, they may not be a good fit.

Concern #3: Consultants think they know it all

A consultant is an egotistical individual who knows everything and can do everything. They do not like being told what to do. They do not ask for outside help, because they are the magical genie. They have the power to do it all.

In reality: Good consultants have the humble confidence to know they can help you but know they cannot do it all themselves. Consultants are strategic partners who listen and learn from you, as well as share knowledge and ideas, to help you make informed decisions. Good consultants, even if they are renaissance men and women, bring together a team with the right skillsets to achieve your brand strategy goals.

Concern #4: Consultants come in, push their agenda on you, do their thing, and leave

A plan is already in place before the consultant or agency steps into your office. They have their PowerPoint ready. They do not listen to you and proceed to tell you what they are going to do. They do it, send you the bill, and leave. You are a transaction to them.

In Reality: A good consultant and agency do not have a plan before they walk through your door, because they know every organization is different. They begin a relational partnership through conversation and listening. From there, they collaborate with you, share ideas, conducts research, and creates a strategy. They propose a strategy and bring the best team together (both from your organization and outside resources) to execute. It is an ongoing relationship with mutual respect, communication, and deliverables.

Concern #5: Consultants are more expensive than a full-time marketing manager

Consultants and agencies charge outrageous fees, so it is better and cheaper to hire an in-house marketing manager to do the same thing.

In reality: Most marketing manager roles require 2-4 years of experience to help keep the costs down, but the marketing manager’s responsibilities quickly expand to more experienced expectations. This often leads to learning on the fly quickly and costly results. If you are asking a marketing manager to handle senior-level strategy, we would go so far as to say you are being unfair to them and possibly setting them up for failure.

When business owners are looking at the cost of a marketing manager, they often leave out the hidden costs. These costs include desk space, equipment, phone line, email, health insurance, benefits, and compensations. In other words, the actual cost of a marketing manager is base salary + 18% – 26% overhead.

Hiring a brand strategy and marketing consulting agency does not require overhead costs and you work with experienced senior-level professionals who are dedicated to you. Many consulting firms can pull the best team together to develop and execute your brand strategy at a lower cost. This is often done by establishing a monthly contract or retainer rather than charge by the hour and allows the partnership to run smoothly and cost-effectively.

Let’s look at an example of a cost breakdown:

  Base salary 18% – 26% Overhead Annual cost
Marketing Manager $70,000 $12,600 – $18,200 $82,600 – $88,200
  Est. Monthly Retainer 18% – 26% Overhead Annual cost
Consulting Firm $5,000 – $6,000 0 $60,000 – $72,000

As you are growing your business and are looking at the next steps for your brand strategy and marketing, consider the value of a marketing and brand strategy consulting agency Look at the big picture and determine if it makes sense to hire a consulting agency or an in-house marketing manager. We do not think that a consulting agency is right or needed for every business, but it is more often or not. If you are unsure, we are happy to have a conversation with you to determine the best direction for your company.

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