In my line of work, I am often asked the question “why should I hire a Marketing Consultant over a permanent employee?” I usually give the same answer; that it depends on what your goals are, because I really don’t see the decision as an “either/or” situation. Consultants can be hired instead of or in support of a permanent hire. However, the real question behind the question usually is usually revolves around cost.
First let me say, that there needs to be shift in how organizations *think* about marketing in general. If marketing is viewed as a cost center then all of your decisions will be based on spend, not value and that is a dangerous place from which to make sound, strategic business decisions. However, if you shift your thinking and view marketing as an investment, then you can focus on the things that count – value and ROI. That’s the stuff good business is built on. And with that, you can evaluate the true benefits that a well seasoned professional can bring to the table.
Below are 5 reasons why hiring a Marketing Consultant can benefit your business.
1. Get Instant Expertise & Experience
The primary reason for hiring a Marketing Consultant is to acquire a specific skill set either not possessed by existing staff members or not available to you due to time constraints. Some projects are very specialized or have a short life span in which case it may not be practical to train a staff member for short-term projects. On the other hand, start-up companies, for example, often need a high level of strategic support yet someone who can execute at an extremely fast pace. Other examples are:
- Launch a new product or campaign strategy
- Jump start the marketing department of newly formed companies
- Re-brand your organization
- Identify areas of opportunity and change
- Lead major initiatives
- Replace key members of your team on leave
2. Realize the Cost Effectiveness
Rates vary although seasoned marketing professionals command anywhere from $100-$150 per hour. While this may seem high at face value, you should compare consultant fees with the true cost of hiring a full time salaried employee. When doing your comparison be sure to account for your employee's annual salary, benefits, office space, office equipment, travel, vacation, sick days, payroll taxes and training. The fact is that, an employee can cost 25-30% on top of their base salary per year, considerably more than a Consultant. When making the shift to a value based decision model rather than a spend based one, you may find that the return on your consulting investment provides a solid business case for your organization.
3. Achieve Seamless Integration
Consultants are experts at jumping into a project and jumping back out again. They are self-starters who know what questions to ask, are adept at what tasks to perform and know how to execute. More importantly, they are experts at what to leave behind so you can effectively track performance or transition over to one of your staff members. This is key when hiring Consultants as temporary hires for employees on leave or to run the marketing department while you look for the right candidate.
4. Obtain True Objectivity
The only gain for a Marketing Consultant is to see the project succeed. Therefore, although they may respect the political and historical positions of the company, a Consultant has no vested interest in them. Oftentimes, a Consultant is not even there long enough to appreciate the dynamics of the organization. As such, Consultants can bring a unique perspective to the project. He/she may be able to identify gaps in the original planning, suggest new ideas or revamp old ones from an objective viewpoint. To that end, you may accept or reject his/her ideas without worry about future performance issues. Remember that the Consultant's goal is to succeed. Only then can he expect to be invited back for another project or use you as a referral.
5. Stimulate the Gene Pool
Marketing Consultants travel from company to company working on a variety of projects. As such, they are exposed to new ideas and technologies that can benefit your company. Some of their clients may have been your competitors and although they may have signed non-disclosure agreements, their wisdom from previous projects will benefit your organization. Additionally, Marketing Consultants provide access to wider breadth of talented professionals with specialties in PR, design, technical writing, and more. This can essentially provide you with access to a whole marketing department that is available only when you need them and therefore, saves you valuable time and money.
The Bottom Line
In summary, the key here is to measure those dollar signs and access to true professional talent against the projected benefits of effectively running your business. It's no different than the way you make all of your other investment decisions. The same should hold true for marketing.