Marketing consultants create and implement plans and strategies for their clients to help sell particular products or services. An advertising executive is not the same as a marketing consultant since advertising is only one part of the marketing mix. The term marketing mix refers to how a certain product or service is priced, packaged, distributed, promoted and sold. The marketing mix varies depending on the industry, client and individual products and services. The main job of marketing consultants is to advise clients on the best strategies for selling their products or services.
Understanding consumer behavior and what motivates consumers to take the desired action such as purchasing a certain product is an essential skill for a marketing consultant. Marketing professionals must be able to identify appropriate target audiences for each product or service and then reach each audience with convincing communications. People skills and the capacity to come up with new ways of positioning and promoting products are essential.
Marketing is considered a creative business, since new ideas are constantly needed. Marketing consultants must have both critical thinking and creative skills, since results, not just creativity alone, are the backbone of marketing. Clients hire a marketing consultant company in the hopes of getting the best results for their marketing budget.
A marketing consultant may specialize in one particular area such as direct mail or Internet marketing or he or she may work in multiple areas. Many marketing consulting firms feature ad copywriting and web design as part of their services. Larger companies may have different departments such as client services, production, distribution and creative services.
Those interested in becoming marketing consultants should, of course, study marketing, but a degree in English, business or communications is often desirable. Courses in psychology are also recommended, since understanding consumers is crucial in creating compelling and effective marketing plans. A marketing consultant often has his or her own business, but may also work as an account manager, marketing manager or even creative director in an agency.