If you’re a small business owner and you’re hungry for growth, then hiring a small business marketing consultant to help you develop new and innovative ways to expand your business could be a very smart move.
Let’s face it, small business owners are usually experts at what we do, that’s why we took the leap and went it alone. Then we are sat at our desk or workbench, proud as punch that this is our business, slowly, over time we adopt other skills or find experts to help us: Health and safety, finance, HR, sales, and marketing, and on and on.
The stuff we are legally obliged to do rightly gets the budget in the early days, accountants, HR, and H&S advisors and we cobble together a form of Guerilla Marketing in between the day job, but as we grow its important to give sales and marketing due consideration and an expert with a wide range of experience can be beneficial.
It’s a big step too, but bringing in outside expertise to identify areas where you could improve your marketing strategies and processes could be a game changer. You understand the ins and outs of your business better than anyone else. Why not let a marketing specialist bring their skills to the table? They can help formulate a plan which could take your small business to the next level.
For small businesses, having a well thought out and well planned marketing strategy is a great strength. If you’re unsure about your own knowledge and capabilities in this arena, it’s time to start looking at what the right small business marketing consultant could bring to the party.
That’s probably best expressed in terms of specific areas of expertise, a focus on the objectives, and the ability to bring a new viewpoint and skill set to the table. It could be the deciding factor in helping you to realise growth and improved profitability.
Is it time to look at bringing a small business marketing consultant on board? If your marketing strategy needs direction, if you’re aware that you need to expand and connect more with existing and new markets in order to grow, or if you feel you could benefit from specialist support, then the time has probably come to make the move. The right person for your business is definitely out there!
By having a clear focus on the fundamental foundations of your target audience, brand values, proposition and SMART objectives, will save so much wasted time and effort. There are a lot of assumptions made in marketing which can be costly, so take some time out to really be sure about the detail within these core areas. Speaking to an external marketing consultant can help give focus, and assign some dedicated time to work on your business, instead of just in it, which sometimes can make it harder to see the wood for the trees.Vicky Clapham, Chartered Marketer, Bevic Marketing Services Ltd
1 – You Don’t Have Time to Market Your Small Business Yourself
Running a business puts many demands on small business owners’ time. It’s often difficult to make time for planning and strategy when you’re occupied with day-to-day tasks and managing the expectations of existing customers.
Marketing sometimes ends up at the end of an endless ‘to-do’ list – but if you want to achieve sustainable growth within your business, then it’s important to put a more critical focus on marketing.
To improve your business, prioritising marketing is essential. Consistent marketing is necessary for sustainable business growth. It is unavoidable.
As a business owner, if you want to have a thriving business, you have a choice, become an expert in everything yourself and run round like a busy fool or hire other people with the skills and lead them on the journey with you.Stuart Wright, Business Growth Specialist
Creating more hours in the day is not an option, and in any case, marketing may not be your key strength. Most small businesses run without much slack in terms of personnel time. A small business marketing consultant could be the practical and effective answer, freeing up your time to focus on your key skills and strengths.
2 – The Leads You Get Aren’t Converting
Maybe you’re getting plenty of leads from your existing marketing efforts, but these simply aren’t converting into sales. You may not be addressing the people who really need your products and/or services.
There can be a number of issues here for the small business. Low-quality leads, issues with your lead-to-sales conversion process, marketing and sales strategies not connecting, poor support material, issues with your website, SEO – the list is endless.
Marketing consultants will work closely with you and your team to assess how the processes are working, identify how things can be improved, and develop effective marketing strategies.
Many sales and marketing coaches will tell you that in many cases, businesses don’t actually need to generate more leads, they just need to be more effective at handling and managing the inquiries they already receive for long-term success!
3 – You Lack Internal Resources
Is your team stretched to the limit, or are you the sort of small business owner who wants to do or oversee absolutely everything yourself? It’s a common issue, but as your business grows, it becomes essential to delegate, or you create a bottleneck that will simply restrict growth potential.
For a specialist area like marketing, with all its many disciplines from digital to direct mail, it’s highly likely you don’t have anyone within the business with the overarching knowledge to implement and manage the different aspects.
In addition, the business may not be able to afford the input of a full-time marketing professional. Bringing a small business marketing consultant on board to assess your business, its requirements, and the most cost-effective ways to move forward could prevent costly mistakes and give your small business a welcome boost.
A marketing consultant will understand all the different elements of the marketing mix and how these work together in a solid marketing strategy to generate optimum results.
4 – You Suffer From Shiny Object Syndrome
Are you easily distracted by new opportunities, constantly trying new marketing gimmicks but not seeing these through to achieve increased business? There are so many technological distractions and digital marketing opportunities in today’s fast-developing digital world that it’s only too easy to see these as a universal panacea that will solve any business woe!
A small business marketing consultant will help to advise you on what may and may not make a contribution. All possible new ideas deserve consideration and evaluation, but they need to be aligned with your business objectives. Having an impartial adviser to assess the value of new initiatives for your business will save you time and money, as well as optimising the impact of your actual marketing strategy.
5 – You Don’t Have a Well Realised Marketing Strategy
Are you too focused on a sales strategy without having a well thought out marketing strategy to achieve your goals? If your marketing appears less than effective, then you need to go back to basics to assess who your customer is, why they buy your products or services, and what your advantages are over the competition.
Time to call in a small business marketing consultant, who will spend time evaluating the facts, assessing the potential, and devising a strategy designed to achieve your goals.
How Do You Know When You’ve Found A Good Small Business Marketing Consultant?
It’s not realistic to expect instant results, so how do you know your consultant is right for your business? Take time to talk with other businesses who have worked with your chosen consultant. See what difference a consultant has made, listen to how well they have integrated into and understood the business.
Make sure this is someone you feel you can work with, who you feel comfortable with, and who can demonstrate solid performances on behalf of others. If you’re in harmony with their approach and methodology then it’s an excellent start to the relationship.
They will help you discover your USP so that you don’t only compete on price
A USP (Unique Selling Point) differentiates you from the competition. Without a USP, you can only compete on price, which isn’t the best long-term strategy.
Good small business marketing consultants will help you identify and develop your USPs and strengthen these to improve the potential of your business. This is achieved by gaining an in-depth understanding of your target audiences, local and national, and what they need or most value from your products or services.
It’s important to define your strengths in correlation with your competition, understanding the needs of your existing and potential customers and how these may change in line with trends, legislation, and developing technology.
Your consultant will then be able to suggest strategies to communicate your USPs with your target market, building a successful brand that should be continuously evaluated.
They formulate a plan with metrics and goals
It’s not just about developing strategies, it’s about demonstrating how these strategies are working, and reporting on the effectiveness of individual campaigns by measuring results using metrics, KPIs, and analytics.
If you don’t analyse, you risk wasting time and money. Keeping a careful eye on the results means changing and refining campaigns and marketing channels to optimise their potential. Identifying goals and objectives at the start of each individual campaign is important – listen to your small business marketing consultant in terms of how well they feel different initiatives will perform.
They talk about more than one type of marketing
Despite the proliferation of digital marketing techniques, marketing isn’t just a digital discipline. There are many different types of marketing tools and subject matter experts.
Digital marketing consultants will specialise in just one area, which may be an approach that suits your business, dependent upon how you operate, but in general, it’s better to seek the input of someone who can provide expertise across the marketing mix in order to ensure you achieve a balanced approach with your marketing campaigns.
They want to champion your business
You also need them to be enthusiastic about your business, to believe in your products and services, and to bang the drum on your behalf. Ideally, they may have connections they can leverage immediately to achieve some early wins.
Understanding the challenges faced by small businesses should be a passion for them; in short, they will act as your marketing department and want to become an integral part of your business planning, marketing system, and future success.
They don’t want you to invest heavily upfront
Cost is always an important consideration. A professional consultant will discuss terms and remuneration with you in advance for marketing consulting. Fair staged payments are the way forward for many small business owners, with everyone on board to achieve the optimum results.
Is it the right time for you to invest in a small business marketing consultant?
Ask yourself the following
Am I willing to commit to marketing my business
Employing a small business marketing consultant doesn’t mean you can just hand over the reins straight away and expect them to achieve results.
It’s not a one-off investment – it’s important that you set aside the time to ensure your marketing consultant understands your business and your objectives, as well as investing time in discussing initiatives, approving plans and reviewing results, and effectively marketing your business.
If you don’t have the time or the inclination for this, then it’s probably not an appropriate time for your business to make the investment.
You’re expecting a magician
There’s no magic wand, and no immediate and guaranteed solutions to miraculously turn on success. Be prepared to work together to build a long-term strategy, itemising goals, and objectives. Set up processes fuelled by the business, and take the time to reassess and re-evaluate at regular intervals.
You aren’t willing to invest in the whole of the business
Growth in the business will create challenges in other areas. Increased leads will put pressure on other departments such as sales and customer service.
If you’re not ready to invest further in your business to keep pace with growth, then maybe it’s not time to seek the services of a small business consultant.
As business owners, when we start we are technicians, and usually experts in the thing we do, and unless that thing happens to be marketing, we would be wise to get expert help.Mark Bailey, Director, Smart Printing Company
Scaling a business is difficult, and not without risk. Employing an external marketing consultancy can provide both affordability and flexibility. You’ll enjoy the input of a specialist, only paying for the time you need. Plus if you’re currently managing the marketing yourself, you may save time and free up your personal resource to focus on other areas of the business.
You’ll gain new insights from a marketing expert and also have someone focused on getting things done and driving results to achieve your business goals. You probably don’t need a full-time marketing executive, but you can access some of the best marketing brains without the cost of employment. Time to start looking at the possibilities and heading in the right direction!