How to Become a Marketing Consultant

Three Parts:Beginning Your Career in MarketingBecoming a Freelance Marketing ConsultantStarting Your Own Marketing Consultancy Business

Marketing consultants understand what motivates consumers and advise companies on the best way to reach those consumers. Marketing consultants have many duties, which might include evaluating the needs of a company’s customers, planning and implementing social media or other marketing campaigns, and tracking the success of marketing strategies using analytical tools.[1] Salaries for marketing consultants vary from around $30,000 to $150,000 per year, since most marketing consultants are paid by project.[2] If you are considering becoming a marketing consultant, you will need to take certain steps to be successful, including getting a degree, getting work experience, and building a client base. Keep reading to learn more about how to become a marketing consultant.

Part 1
Beginning Your Career in Marketing

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    Get an undergraduate degree in marketing, business, or communications. Many schools offer degree programs in marketing, which would be ideal if you are certain that you want to be a marketing consultant. If a marketing program is not available at your university, a degree in business or communications can help you to become a marketing consultant as well. Whatever major you choose, just make sure that you take courses that will provide useful information for your future career.[3]
    • Course offerings vary by university, but look for courses that will provide you with information about marketing, branding, understanding and reaching a specific demographic, advertising, copywriting and budgeting.
    • Read the course descriptions to determine which courses will be useful to you.
    • Discuss your career goals with your academic advisor and ask for suggestions on what courses you should take and other things you can do to work towards your career goals.
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    Participate in student organizations for business and marketing majors. One way that you can gain experience before you graduate from college is to participate in a marketing or business student organization. Being active in a student organization allows you to apply what you are learning and become more knowledgeable in the process. You will also gain valuable experience that can be added to your resume and have opportunities to network with local business owners. All of this experience and the connections you make will help make it easier for you to get a job after graduation.[4]
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    Create a portfolio. Marketing consultants use their portfolios show potential clients what they are capable of doing. Develop an online and print version of your portfolio that showcases what you have done. Your portfolio should include some information about your education and experience as well as contact information and several samples of your best work.
    • If you are experienced with setting up websites, you can create one from scratch, but if not you can use a free web hosting site such as or Tumblr to set up your online portfolio.
    • If you have had some experience through involvement in a student organization or an internship, include samples of some of the marketing materials that you have created for clients (ask for permission to use in your portfolio first).
    • If you have not had any clients yet, use materials that you created for your courses.
    • Examples of sample materials include things like logos, promotional writing, flyers, and links to websites or social media pages that you have worked on.
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    Apply for entry-level marketing jobs. Before you begin your career as a marketing consultant, you may need to spend some time working at a marketing firm. Look for entry level positions at marketing firms that will give you the type of experience you are seeking. You should also look for jobs that provide ongoing training and advancement opportunities.[5]
    • When you apply to jobs, try to tailor your resume and cover letter to match the specific skill set that the job posting describes. Don’t be dishonest about your skills, just make sure that you emphasize the skills that you have that the employer is seeking.
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    Develop your marketing career in the professional world. It may take some time before you can work as a consultant because companies who hire consultants look for professionals who have years of experience. Therefore, you may need to work as a marketing professional for a several years to develop your skills. During this time, focus on expanding your skill set and advancing your career. Take on difficult projects and do your best work.[6]

Part 2
Becoming a Freelance Marketing Consultant

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    Develop a plan. Organization and time management are key skills for any consultant. Before making any concrete changes, continue your day job while you consider some of the basics of working as a consultant. Answering some basic questions about how you envision your future business will go a long way in helping you to take action. Consider some of the following questions to help you decide if you still want to make the transition from a marketing professional to a freelance marketing consultant.[7]
    • What are your goals and reasons for wanting to go into consulting? If you do not have a strong vision for your business or a big enough motivation to keep it going, you may struggle to succeed as a consultant. Consider your short and long term goals before you make your decision.
    • Do you need to get any sort of certification or special license? Depending on your sub-specialty within the marketing field, you may need some sort of certification or special license to work as a consultant. Check before you do anything else.
    • Do you have enough experience to begin working as a marketing consultant? Clients want to hire consultants who are experienced and knowledgeable. Consider whether or not your work experience has prepared you to provide everything that your clients will need or if you need some more time to gain that experience.
    • Do you have enough connections to begin working as a consultant? To have a career as a freelance marketing consultant, you will need to have plenty of potential clients to get started. Consider your potential clients and think realistically about whether or not you will be able to build your network.
    • How organized are you? Organization is crucial for someone who works as a consultant because you will have to manage your time, your business, and your clients. Decide if you are organized enough to do all of these things.[8]
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    Acquire necessary certifications and licenses. If you have determined that you will need a certification or special license to get started, make sure that you get the certification or license before you get started. Even if you do not need a certification or license, you may consider getting some sort of certification from a marketing organization to prove to your clients that you are legitimate.[9]
    • For example, you can get a special certification from the Sales & Marketing Professional Association or the American Marketing Association. These certifications will help to set you apart from your competition and instill confidence in your clients.[10][11]
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    Establish a niche for yourself. It is important to know your target audience before you get started. Having a small niche will help you to get more clients than if you try to market your services to everyone. Try to focus on a very small group of people that you want to have as your clients.[12]
    • For example, a good narrow niche might be boutique owners in a trendy part of town in your city, or local medical professionals who are just beginning to build their careers.
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    Develop a brand for yourself. Branding is important because it helps you to maintain a standard of service and draw new clients to your business. When you are developing your brand, you should be thinking about your clients and what they expect from you. As you work and advertise your services, make sure that everything you are putting forth is in line with the brand that you want to establish.[13]
    • For example, if you want to attract small boutique owners, you might be expected to understand fashion and present yourself in a stylish manner. Therefore, your logos, text, and personal appearance should reflect these things.
    • Keep in mind that it takes time and continuous effort to develop and establish your brand, so be patient.
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    Research other marketing consultants’ rates. Determining what to charge your clients can be difficult. The best way to decide on rates is to look at what your competition charges for their services and make your rates competitive with theirs. That way you know that you will not be at a disadvantage for clients based on your rates and it will also take the guesswork out of developing your rates.
    • Some marketing consultants may list their services and rates online, but if not, you can also call to get their rates. Call around to the marking consultants or firms in your area and ask them to send you a brochure detailing their services and rates.[14]
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    Consider contract work with a larger marketing consultancy firm. Becoming a freelance marketing consultant can be a little intimidating and you may struggle to find enough clients. If you are not sure if you want to enter the world of market consulting alone, consider working through a marketing consultancy firm to give yourself more security. [15]
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    Network as often as possible. No matter what route you choose to follow in your path towards becoming a marketing consultant, it is important for you to network constantly. The more that you network and build up your client base, the easier it will be for you to work as a marketing consultant when you are ready to make the transition.[16]

Part 3
Starting Your Own Marketing Consultancy Business

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    Decide on a location for your business. Once you have made the decision to start your own marketing consultancy business, you will need to decide on a location for your business. You can either work from home or rent an office space. Working from home will reduce your overhead costs, but having an office space can provide your business with more exposure and a better place to meet with clients. You will have to weigh the pros and cons of each option to decide which one is best for you.[17]
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    Consider hiring employees. You may not need employees in the early stages of your business, but as you begin to grow you may benefit from having an assistant to answer phones and perform other simple tasks. Think realistically about what your needs are going to be and what you would want an employee to do before you decide to hire anyone.[18]
    • Keep in mind that you can always hire someone down the road if you get too busy to handle your own day-to-day operations, but laying off an employee that you no longer need will be much harder.
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    Establish rates for your business. Use the information you gathered while researching other marketing consultants’ rates to help you establish your rates. Once you have determined what your prices will be, create a brochure that includes details about the services you offer as well as base rates for all of your services.[19]
    • Your rates should be competitive with other marketing consultants’ rates, but you should also make sure that the rates you charge will cover all of your expenses.
    • Your brochure should contain information about your hourly rates, project based fees, and retainer services.[20]
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    Market your business. Marketing your business is just as important as marketing for your clients. You can market your services using brochures, cold calling, advertising, newsletters, public speaking, and/or client referrals.[21]
    • Your brochure should include information about what you do, why you deserve to be hired, who you are, and who your clients are.[22]
    • If you plan to use cold-calling, make sure that you prepare a script and practice it many times before you make your first call.
    • If you plan to place ads, place them in publications that are relevant to the clients you are trying to reach. For example, if you are trying to reach local health care professionals, see if there is a monthly newsletter for that demographic that sells ad space.
    • Consider volunteering your services as a public speaker, if that is something that you are comfortable with doing.
    • Consider asking your established clients for referrals.[23]


  • Consider talking to someone who has started their own marketing consultancy business before you make your decision to pursue this career path. Ask about the challenges they faced in their first year and beyond to get a sense of what you will be up against.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Marketing