How much should you pay a marketing consultant?

What does a marketing consultant cost?

“If you think hiring a professional is expensive… try working with an amateur,” said Red Adair. This has influenced every new business meeting I’ve ever attended.

So, let’s get it immediately out there: the fees that I charge are at the higher end in terms of what you can pay for marketing consultants, so, when people ask me for a day rate, I’m braced for the teeth sucking moment.

Sometimes, it can be a lot more than what people spend on their accountant or lawyer, or another professional. This seems to surprise them: “But it’s ‘only’ marketing!”

You know, marketing, that key activity that builds your reputation and supports your sales results. Yep, it’s “only” that! And, there are people out there who’ll do it for tuppence.

As the owner of a small business, looking at a day rate next to a day rate, I know it can be hard to choose the seemingly more expensive option. So what is the going rate for a marketing consultant, and what should you get for your money?

Typically, when a small business is looking for a marketing consultant, it is because they need more leads, need to convert more leads, or need to increase customer loyalty. Below are the most common experts that a business will turn to for help of this kind.

MARKETING CONSULTANTS RATES

Being based In Bristol, we can give you a reasonable run-down of rates in the South West. It goes something like this:

Management consultant from a big firm: Upwards of £2,000 per day. Typically, a management consultant will have trained with their firm, have a decent degree, and will have delivered a range of projects for similar businesses. They will have access to a wealth of resources (research, etc.) and discipline specialists in their firm. However, they have rarely been in your position, or actually managed a marketing budget for themselves.

One-to-one business coaching: About £2,000 per month for about a day over the month, for the decent franchise coaching companies (e.g. Shirlaws, ActionCOACH, etc.). A business coach will usually have a decent CV behind them, probably with a senior job or two under their belts. They will be working to tried and tested techniques, usually a particular methodology that they apply to all their clients to a varying degree.

Decent agency strategic planner: circa £1,500 per day. If a marketing agency has a strategic planning team, you are likely to work with a planner on things like preparing your marketing brief, planning your activity, etc. These people have typically worked their way up through account management in an agency. They will have seen a number of clients of your kind, but won’t have sat in your seat.

Freelance marketing consultants: Ok, so this is where you get a real range of people… all broadly called “marketing consultants”. They will range from £150 to £1,500 per day.

MARKETING DIRECTION AND STRATEGY COSTS

These are people with business acumen and a strategic head. They should have experience of working with a range of agencies – PR, digital, design, etc. – even better if they’ve seen both sides of that desk. They should demonstrate an excellent understanding of marketing process and measurement right through to profit.

You should be paying £500-£1,500 per day for this, and you’re looking for at least:

  • 10+ years experience.
  • CIM marketing diploma at the very least, ideally MBA or similar.
  • Experience of running a marketing budget of more than £500k.
  • Ideally they will have reported directly to an MD with responsibility for marketing.
MARKETING MANAGEMENT COSTS

These are the people who make things happen: action planners and project managers, with a marketing head.

You should pay £250-£500 for this, and you’re looking for at least:

  • 5+ years experience.
  • CIM marketing diploma if possible, or equivalent experience.
  • Experience of putting together integrated execution plans, turning the strategy above into an action plan.
  • Proven project managers with examples of scheduling, cost-control, etc.
  • Proven ability to manage third-party suppliers and an excellent network of them to call on.
  • Relevant discipline experience, e.g. direct mail, web development, events print, etc.
  • Ability to report on campaign success, key metrics, etc.
MARKETING EXECUTION

This is for the daily grind. These people will do stuff like update your website, proof read your copy, etc.

You should pay £150-£300 per day for this, and expect at least:

  • 1+ years experience.
  • Graduate level, intelligent, IT literate.
If you’re thinking about working with a marketing consultant, you need to make sure you know which type you need, because getting it wrong can be the difference between having a business and not having a business. In my experience, if you buy cheap on this one, you buy more than twice.

Bryony Thomas is the creator of the Watertight Marketing methodology, captured in her 5-star business book of the same name. She is also a popular business speaker and founder of the Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant network.

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