Key Skills for Marketing Consultants (And How To Become One)

Updated February 3, 2023

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Marketing consultants can help a variety of companies in many industries improve their marketing plans and policies so they can reach customers more effectively. Becoming a marketing consultant usually requires a relevant education and some experience in the field in order to know how to help your clients. If you hope to move into marketing consulting eventually, planning for the right combination of education and experience can be extremely helpful.

In this article, we explain the role of marketing consultants and review some of their top skills, plus we take a look at their typical duties, average salary and the steps you can take to become one.

What is a marketing consultant?

A marketing consultant is a marketing professional who either works independently or for a consulting firm and helps companies with marketing their products and services. They usually have a good amount of expertise in marketing to offer clients, ranging from marketing technologies to strategies for attracting customers. A marketing consultant isn't an employee of the companies they help, but an outside consultant that works with the company for a limited period.

Read more: What Is a Digital Marketing Consultant? (With Job Duties)

Skills for marketing consultants

Marketing consultants often need a comprehensive knowledge of marketing, which includes a wide variety of skills. If you decide to specialize in a specific type of marketing or a particular industry, you may need additional skills that apply to that field. Here are some top skills needed to be a marketing consultant of any type:

  • Copywriting

  • Communication skills

  • Attention to detail

  • Lead generation

  • Content management

  • Marketing automation software

  • Problem-solving

  • Social media

  • Marketing research

  • Common marketing software

  • Product marketing

  • Analytical ability

  • Marketing strategy

  • Digital channel connections

  • Creative thinking

  • Leadership

Related: 15 Top Skills for a Digital Marketing Expert

What does a marketing consultant do?

A marketing consultant can have a range of duties depending on the needs of their clients, and they can also specialize in specific areas of marketing, such as digital marketing. They may work with the existing marketing department at a company or help to train new marketing professionals the company employs.

As a marketing consultant, you might make recommendations for how to improve current marketing strategies, plan and execute a new marketing campaign or suggest new practices and workflows to improve the company's marketing efforts. Marketing consultants then use analytical tools to measure the success of your initiatives.

Some tools a marketing consultant might use in day-to-day work include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

  • Social media marketing

  • Video creation and syndication

  • Website copy

  • Direct marketing

  • Lead acquisition programs

Marketing consultants use these tools to help their clients to reach their goals. For example, they may want to attract more customers and increase sales. Clients also determine how long they need the help of the marketing consultant, which might range from a few weeks to a year or more.

Related: 15 Types of Consulting (And How To Choose Your Specialty)

Salary for marketing consultants

According to Indeed Salaries, the national average salary for a marketing consultant is $66,361 per year. This can vary, however, because of the variable nature of the work that marketing consultants do.

If you are an independent consultant who owns your own business, your earnings depend on how many consulting jobs you take each year and how well they pay. If you work for a consulting firm, you may earn a salary but earn bonuses or other financial incentives for your work if it goes well.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Read more: 26 High-Paying Marketing Jobs in 2022 (With Salary Info)

How to become a marketing consultant

Here are the steps to follow to become a marketing consultant:

1. Get an education

While it's sometimes possible to work as a marketing consultant without a bachelor's degree, most companies require marketing professionals to have a bachelor's degree. Common degree areas include marketing, business or communications. Experience can sometimes take the place of a degree, but most organizations seek candidates who have a degree, especially for entry-level positions.

Related: A Guide to Marketing Degrees

2. Gain workplace experience and further education

Most clients and consulting firms expect marketing consultants to have expertise in the field, so it's crucial for marketing professionals who want to become a marketing consultant to work directly for companies for a while. This might include working as a marketing coordinator, social media coordinator, marketing manager or digital marketing coordinator, among other titles. Working in these types of roles for a while can give you the type of experience you need to be successful as a marketing consultant.

Some marketing professionals may also decide to earn advanced degrees, such as master's degrees in business or marketing. These can be helpful for marketing consultants and show potential clients that you have advanced training in the field, but aren't a necessity to become a marketing consultant. You may find these degrees offer you an advantage and training that can help you get hired and be effective in your work.

Read more: 10 Common Careers in Marketing (Plus Salaries and Tips for Success)

3. Add necessary skills

Once you have gotten your degrees and some experience, you may want to learn all the skills necessary to be an effective marketing consultant. Most marketing consultants work in many areas, so it's most helpful to gain a variety of skills and not just concentrate on one area.

These skills include everything from copywriting to mastering the latest marketing technologies. However, if you work in a specific industry that you want to remain in as a marketing consultant, you may decide to include skills related to that as well.

Read more: Marketing Consultant Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Consider certification

There are a variety of certifications for marketing consultants that can offer you additional marketable skills. One well-known option is the Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) from the American Marketing Association (AMA), which requires passing an exam to be certified. The AMA partnered with the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) to provide 30 hours of self-paced learning before the PCM exam, and passing the exam gives you the PCM Digital Marketing certification from AMA and the Certified Digital Marketing Professional from DMI.

There are many certifications for different specialties. If you specialize in market research, you may decide to get the Insights Professional Certification (IPC) from the Insights Association, which demonstrates your excellence in research practices.

If you specialize in business or finance marketing, the Business Marketing Institute offers certification for business-to-business marketing professionals, and the American Banker's Association offers the Certified Financial Marketing Professional certification. If you work in product marketing, consider the Association of International Product Marketing & Management's Certified Product Marketing Manager certification.

Read more: 15 Marketing Certifications (Plus Definition and Benefits)

5. Decide between a consulting firm and an independent consulting

Marketing professionals who are ready to become marketing consultants can decide if they want to work independently as the owner of their own consulting business or if they want to work for a consulting firm.

There are pros and cons to each option, and the right answer is usually a personalized one that depends on the area of expertise and situation. Consulting firms often offer a bit more stability and find work for consultants, but there may not be as much personal choice regarding what type of work the consultant completes.

Related: How To Become a Freelance Marketing Consultant in 8 Steps

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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