Deciding to take on a marketing agency or consultant can be a big step for any start-up or SME. Here’s what you can expect from working with SoftStone Digital and a few tips to make the process smoother.

Why work with a marketing consultant?

The real question here is what do we mean by ‘marketing’? In the case of SoftStone we’re talking about digital marketing which can cover a broad range of topics including:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Website design and build
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Content Writing
  • User Experience (UX) Optimisation
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) online advertising

And many more besides. In fact digital marketing covers just about any form of online promotion or marketing activity you can think of. The marketer’s job is to drive relevant traffic to your website or platform in order to increase engagement or conversions (depending on your goals) with your audience.

A marketing consultant will bring years of experience, expertise and knowledge of the inner workings of search giants like Google and Bing. Keep in mind though that most consultants will have an area they specialise in. I’m a content and SEO specialist working with the ‘Inbound’ methodology and while I can get involved with site builds, paid advertising and CRO my primary focus with clients is building an organic online presence.

What does a marketing consultant do?

A marketing consultant will act as your internal marketing team or extend your existing team. We learn what makes your business unique and we help craft and spread the messaging to your audience. That all sounds a little wishy-washy, so let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of what we actually do for you.

  • We use specialist tools to audit your existing website, both from a technical and content perspective, then make recommendations on how to improve or add to what you have already. All the while aiming to keep your brand and image intact.
  • Next we research what your audience are really searching for and distill this down into a simple list of keywords and phrases that will better help you understand and connect with potential customers.
  • This research then helps guide us to create and execute a content plan to maximise your visibility online. Most marketers are good writers, capable of creating engaging and strategically written content on just about any subject. We can work with you to bring together your expertise in your field with our knowledge of digital marketing.
  • Once your website is full of this strategically written content we can then look at non-organic methods for driving relevant traffic to it including paid advertising, email and social media campaigns.

How to get the most out of the experience

The first thing you will need is to set goals so you have a clear idea of what you want out of the experience. Common goals are selling more products, getting more traffic to your website or engaging with more users on social media. All of these are valid end-goals, but we can refine them and be more specific.

You might want to sell more high-margin products for example or drive more relevant traffic and potential customers to the site. By defining these goals it makes it much easier for a marketing consultant to know what needs to be done as a priority and what can be addressed at a later date. It’s also worth saying that it’s better to have one or two specific goals that are achievable rather than aiming to be better at everything.

It can take time to build a good working relationship when it comes to marketing. You are, understandably, very passionate about your product or service, whereas a marketer just wants to drive towards your goals and might take a less impassioned, data-driven approach to achieving these targets.

Ultimately though, the goal is to trust the consultant. There’s nothing worse than a relationship where the marketer is being held back from achieving your goals, purely because you don’t trust them.

Common pitfalls of working with a marketer

A common issue digital marketers come across with clients is the phrase “We don’t do it like that” or “We’ve always done it this way”. The truth is you’ve brought an external marketing consultant in because something isn’t working. Your customer journeys aren’t flowing quite how you want them to and you need extra expertise or time to sort things out.

Small things like granting access to key platforms like your website (CMS), Facebook Business Manager, Google Analytics account and so on are fundamental. Without this basic access the marketer simply can’t do their job properly.

It’s also important to consider how long it can take to see results from a digital marketing campaign. SEO is often described as a long term process and can take months to show tangible results, whereas PPC (paid ads) can, when done well, drive traffic to your site overnight. Clients can often be frustrated with a lack of progress, even when figures are going the right direction.

Ultimately, working with a marketing consultant is like having your very own dedicated marketing team. If your business isn’t ready to invest in a marketing agency, but needs help with online presence, campaign strategy or content creation, then get in touch and see what SoftStone Digital could do for you!