What's the difference between a marketing consultant and a marketing coach?

This is a question that not enough business owners are asking themselves before diving head first into their marketing…

A lot of business owners know they need help and assume they need a consultant. But do they really? Or do they need a coach?

So what’s the difference between the two?

A marketing consultant will tell you how to make your marketing more effective and efficient. They'll ask questions about how your business works, the problem you are looking to solve and will then advise you how to fix this by creating a marketing strategy and plan for you.

A marketing coach, on the other hand, will give you the training, tools and confidence to understand and take control of your business’s marketing strategy. They’ll work closely with you to make sure you have a clear idea of what your marketing needs to achieve. 

While the goal of a consultant is to provide the answers, the goal of a coach is to equip you to come up with the answers yourself. 

The risks of marketing consultancy for small businesses...

Effective marketing consultancy relies on… 
  1. The consultant asking all the right questions to get the information they need. 
  2. The consultant understanding the full context of the business and the business owner’s goals and vision. 
  3. The consultant’s skills to put all that information together and actually give really good advice.
In my opinion, having worked for hundreds of small businesses as a consultant, the marketing consultancy model puts the business owner in a very vulnerable position. The reason is that, if any of the above 3 things don't happen, then the business owner will end up getting bad advice. This can be costly in terms of money, time and - in the worst cases I’ve seen - damage to the business’s reputation. 

And worse than that... If you, as a business owner, don't understand the strategy your consultant has set for you, you’re going to find it difficult to leave them if you’re not happy with the work they’re delivering. You'll also find it difficult to see if your marketing is actually getting you a good return on your marketing investment.

Now I’m definitely not telling you to never hire a marketing consultant...

For years I was one! For business owners with a good understanding of their vision and strategy, a consultant is a great choice as long as they explain the rationale behind their recommendations. 

But taking a hands off approach to your marketing and getting someone else to decide on your core strategy is, in my view, really dangerous and can make you very vulnerable as a business owner. 

It's like asking your accountant or bookkeeper to make all your financial decisions for you! 

They could do it... But could you ever trust someone enough to make the right decisions for your business?

And yet small business owners do this every day by handing over their strategy to a marketing agency or consultancy.

A lot of people don't consider coaching (particularly marketing coaching) as there seems to be a common misconception that you need advice. You need someone to tell you what to do.

But I can’t tell you who your ideal customer should be.

I can’t tell you what your brand personality should be. 

You know your business far better than I ever can so, as the business owner, these things need to come from you. And I can coach you through the process of uncovering and understanding it.

Another misconception is that hiring a marketing coach means having to do all your marketing yourself. This isn’t true at all. Outsourcing the implementation of your marketing can be a great way to save time and money in your business. But a marketing coach will enable you to brief your suppliers effectively and keep them accountable by setting appropriate measures for success.

So, do I need a marketing consultant or a marketing coach? 

This depends on what stage you’re at in your marketing journey. 

If you’re confident in your current understanding of your marketing strategy, but are looking to outsource your marketing to achieve your marketing goals as efficiently as possible then I’d recommend a marketing consultant.

But, if you’re aware you lack the strategic skills and structure you need to take on your own marketing strategy, or if you want the confidence and understanding to start outsourcing your marketing, choose a coach. 

Book your free clarity call with me today to find out more about how marketing coaching can help you achieve your business goals.

Ros Conkie


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