The Four Reasons Why Brands Hire Consultants
What is a consultant?
A consultant is a person that provides advice to individuals or businesses that require expertise in a specific field. There are typically three characteristics that identify consultants.
Firstly, they are often paid fees to provide the expertise that the individual or business does not currently possess. Secondly, a consultant should be independent of the client, so that the advice received remains neutral. Finally, a consultant should be able to work flexibly based on client needs.
A marketing consultant is simply a person that provides specialist advice in marketing.
Why do brands hire consultants?
There are three key benefits that the introduction of specialist expertise can bring to a business. Firstly, consultants with specialist expertise will often identify problems quicker than the internal resource. External consultants work with multiple clients and will have seen the same, or similar, the problem before. This experience will help a brand get to the solution quickly.
In marketing, a brand can see a wide range of problems on a day to day basis. The types of challenges faced can sit across several channels and may require deep expertise. The consultant must have a wealth of experience in a specific field where the challenge is present.
Secondly, specialist expertise can make a process or project more efficient. Consultants can be used for their specialist expertise when the business is implementing change within the business. Consultants could work as a member of a client’s team for the duration of the project and leave when it is complete.
For example, marketers often need specialist expertise when selecting and implementing new technologies. Demand-side platforms (DSPs) and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are common technologies that often require specialist expertise that does not already exist within many brands.
Finally, specialist expertise can be used to up-skill the company on specific topics or areas of interest. This is particularly valuable when acquiring expertise internally is difficult, or when their existing understanding becomes dated.
Digital marketing is frequently changing. New channels and methodologies emerge while existing practices are restricted. For example, the restriction of cookies in the browser and the introduction of GDPR, fundamentally change how user data can be used in marketing. New practices will emerge as existing practices become obsolete.
2. External Perspective
Bringing outside perspective into a business assures that a decision being made is the correct one. Without an external perspective, teams can often become too insular in their thinking and miss the bigger picture or industry movements.
Another benefit of an external perspective is to bring innovation to the business. Consultants have often worked with many clients, so, therefore, have a good perspective on what is currently being achieved in the market. This allows them to guide a client towards innovative ideas.
An example of how marketers could benefit from an outside perspective is if they are looking to build a customised ad-technology stack. Consultants will often understand the pros and cons of both specialised and integrated stacks and how well different technologies inter-operate.
3. Additional resource
Consultants are often hired as an additional resource. Businesses can benefit from this if: they do not have the time to run a project internally, the expertise is needed quickly, or the resource is only needed for a finite amount of time.
An example of how consultants can be used as an additional resource is during the construction of best practice documentation or playbooks. Staff within businesses need to focus on their day jobs so often will not have the time to build valuable documentation.
This example is particularly relevant for brands operating in multiple markets. It is common to see varying levels of sophistication across markets. Because of this, it can be extremely useful to have standardised best practices across markets that share learnings and ultimately, save time.
4. Impartial advice
Consultants can be valuable for brands that are seeking impartial advice. Internal and external politics can often get in the way of the right decision for a business. The impartial advice provided by a consultant can empower the brand to make the right decisions and often assist in achieving internal sign off from senior leadership when it is required.
For marketers, the decisions that require impartial advice could be tactical. For example, where to invest media spend or how to best set up a campaign. More often, they are strategic. For example, what media agency or technology performed best in pitch, or what marketing operating model suits the brand best.
For example, an effective use of impartial advice is during an audit. It provides the brand with a clear view of best practice and how they compare. There should be no incentive for the consultant assessing the brand and its partners either positively or negatively.