Should You Use a Marketing Consulting Firm?


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I was doing a talk about branding and positioning to the Peak Venture Group last week and was asked an intriguing question from a technology start-up CEO: Should I hire an in-house chief marketing officer (CMO) or outsource this role?  Here is a rough synopsis of the answer I gave this gentleman. Note that my answer applies to all types of individual consultants and marketing consulting firms, not just CMO’s. 

Let’s start with the plusses of outsourcing some or all of your marketing efforts:  

  1. You have access to top-notch talent at lower cost than adding them to your payroll.  The hourly rate for the marketing consultant will be higher but you don’t have to worry about salary, benefits and such.
  2. You can get exactly the expertise you need, whether that is a generalist with domain expertise, or a highly experienced specialist in something like SEO, lead generation, Website design, or whatever. 
  3. The risk is lower. Hiring an employee is a long process, particularly at senior levels, and it is painful to fire someone you’ve spent so much time pursuing. Consultants serve at your pleasure. They are easier to hire and easier to terminate.
  4. You are not limited to a specific geography, as you often are with an employee. You have access to consultants and marketing consulting firms across the nation and across the world.

But what about the potential negatives of using a consultant?  Here are a few to watch out for:

  • They don’t understand your business. It takes a while to come up to speed on a new company, let alone a new industry. Domain expertise is always helpful.
  • They are generalists when you really need a specialist, or vice versa. You need to make sure there is alignment between your needs and the consultant’s skill set.
  • Some consultants have not made it in the real world of business. Or to put it another way, those who can’t do, teach.  Actually, I’m not sure this is a big issue because some of the best marketing consultants have been benefiting their clients for decades.
  • The consultant’s expertise may not be directly transferable to your internal marketing operations. In other words, you may receive a great plan that you are not able to implement.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. Let me know what you think.

Carpe Ocasio

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christopher Ryan
Christopher Ryan is CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners, a B2B marketing consulting firm and interim/fractional CMO. He blogs at Great B2B Marketing and you can follow him at Google+. Chris has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.


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