8 signs your marketing consultant isn't thinking strategically

A few months ago, I posted about how to do your own strategic marketing. It's not an easy process which is why most ambitious business owners get a consultant in to implement their strategy for them.

I've worked with a lot of businesses who have worked with a consultant before me. But many tell me they've not been very impressed with the results. The reason is invariably because the consultant was thinking tactically and not strategically. For example, they were focusing only on their area of expertise such as social media or PR.

Unless you know what to look for, this can be difficult to spot. The impact might not be felt until it's too late, when a lot of time and money has been spent.

So, here are the signs to look for:

1. They focus all their efforts on promotion

Your marketing must support your customers at every step in their buying decision. (Read my previous blog, “Have you planned your customers' next steps?” for more on this.) Promotion, or 'lead generation', is the expensive part of marketing. If you're spending a lot of money generating leads, but losing them because prospects are not being supported, then you are wasting money.

2. You tell them a cog in your machine isn't working and they only ask about that

For example, the reason your social media isn't leading to sales might not be down to the way you're using it. It might be that you aren't nurturing the leads generated by your social media activity. It could be because you're not measuring success in the right way across the right timescales. Or it could be because you're not using social media effectively. Yet, if you assume it's the latter when it isn't then you'll never find and fix the root cause.

3. They ask you for the demographic of your ideal customer and nothing else

Demographics is probably the least important information you need in a customer avatar. Don't get me wrong – it's useful to know so that you can identify where they're likely to hang out so you can reach them. But you also need to understand your customer's deep-rooted challenges, attitudes and beliefs. You need this information to craft meaningful marketing messages that will resonate. Demographics alone won't tell you this.


4. They never ask to see your business plan

Marketing needs to support business growth and achieve your business objectives. Even if you don't have a business plan, your consultant needs to know what your vision and business goals are. Otherwise, how can they know if the activities they're planning will help you get there?


5. They don't explain how their proposed actions will result in sales 

If marketing doesn't support sales then there is no point to it. Sales and marketing need to work hand in hand. If your consultant is not looking at how activities will result in sales then they are missing the point.


6. They don't measure what they're doing

Without measuring your marketing, how will you know if you have successfully achieved your objectives or whether your marketing has actually worked? 

When measuring your marketing strategy you need to consider; 
  • What are the indicators that will show you whether potential customers are successfully progressing through the buying journey? 
  • How are you measuring the ROI for the whole buying journey? 
  • What are these figures right now?

7. They never challenge you to reconsider things you've done for a long time

A good strategic marketer will question whether "the way we've always done things" is the best way. It might be... but it might not, and shouldn't be assumed. As the old adage goes, "If you always do what you've always done then you'll always get what you've always got." If you want to step up your business then getting strategic will pay off.


8. They never ask you difficult or awkward questions

If strategic marketing was easy then you could do it by yourself. But it isn't and it requires more than an understanding of marketing tools and processes. It also requires perspective and critical thinking. If your consultant only ever asks questions that you know the answers to, then you probably would've worked out the solution for yourself by now.

One of my favourite testimonials is from my lovely client Edward Morris at EPM. He said, "Ros doesn’t let anyone settle too much. She’s always pushing us to keep improving. She’s given us a sense of direction and a structure to work from. She’s shown us how it should be done. It’s taken away a stress and a doubt."

If you're finding your marketing stressful and you're not sure if it's working, give me a call. I'll warn you, I'll almost certainly ask you some difficult questions! But I promise I'll help you work out the answers. By getting strategic you will feel confident that the marketing you are doing is going to work.


Ros Conkie


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