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Getting Started as an Independent Marketing Consultant

Do you enjoy the art of marketing? Do you find concept of finding ways to connect the general public with products and services on the market interesting? If these are things that interest you, then starting a career as a marketing consultant can be very rewarding. Whether you want to work independently, complete contract work for marketing firms, or even start your own business one day, the skies are the limit. 

However, before you jump to it, there are a few things you’ll need to do to make sure that you can provide quality, professional services. 

Below is a general rundown of how to get started.

Understanding What a Marketing Consultant is

A marketing consultant is a professional that works closely with businesses to clearly identify their marketing needs and to come up with an effective plan of action to promote their products or services. Essentially with the help of valuable marketing resources and tools, it will be your job to help spread the word about your client’s businesses to the masses. Many people who have become a marketing consultant enjoy this career choice because it allows them the freedom to work with several business types.

Experience or Education Requirements

While today’s technological advances make it simple for anyone to turn their passion into a career or business, having some type of marketing education and/or experience can work wonders for helping you impress potential clients. Again, while experience and education requirements will vary, it is ideal to have a degree in categories that include business management or marketing. If college is not something you’re interested in, or you have a degree in an unrelated study field, then you can also consider online marketing courses where you could learn important aspects of the industry. Other skills that are ideal to become a marketing consultant include:

  • Knowledge of all social media platforms
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge
  • Image development or reputation management
  • Basic technical skills

Forbes also gives a great list of technical skills you should have to work in the marketing industry. As for experience, the more you have the better. If you’ve never worked in marketing before, you’ll want to try and get an internship or a part time job within a marketing company to gain industry experience.

Setting Up Shop

Before you begin searching for potential clients you’ll want to make sure that you’ve properly set up your home office. It will be extremely important to make sure that you have adequate space to service your clients accordingly. Below is a mini checklist of things you’ll likely need to set up shop:

  • A designated area to work – If you don’t necessarily have an office, that is fine, but you should at least have a designated area in your home that is strictly for the purposes of work.
  • Adequate office furniture – Office furniture can be fairly cheap these days. However, if you’re really on a tight budget, you can even check second hand shops or yard sales for used furniture until you’ve raised enough funds to purchase your own.
  • Computer and/or mobile device – In today’s modern times you can’t expect to get ahead without having some way to access the internet. Having a PC, laptop, or mobile device is pretty much a necessity these days, as is getting the proper Internet security software for your device. As you’re browsing sites, storing files, and developing marketing campaigns over the web, you have to make sure you’re protected against hackers and identity thieves.
  • Separate phone – It is not a good idea to use your personal number as your business number. You want to have a secure line that your clients can reach out to you without any problems. Many people who work from home or offer freelance services enjoy the pleasures of a VoIP service, which is an affordable phone service over the internet.
  • Website/online resume/portfolio – in order to impress clients, they’re going to want to see that you mean business. Before you begin searching for your next client, make sure that you have created an effective website, online resume, or portfolio for them to review.

Finding Clients

One of the most challenging things when you work as an independent marketing consultant is finding clients. When you work for another company, the brand and reputation have already been developed, and therefore, the clients come to you. However, when you’re on your own, brand development becomes the first and most important task to reaching and impressing clients. Below are a few suggestions on how you can begin to attract clients:

  • Create a business page on social media pages and begin searching for other businesses that you might be interested in working with.
  • Add a signature to the bottom of your emails with business information
  • Attend networking functions for small businesses or other marketing professionals
  • Register with freelance job sites so that you can advertise and bid on marketing contracts
  • Get letters of recommendation from previous employers
  • Offer to intern or complete a project for free to show your skills and abilities
  • Check job posting sites daily for marketing professionals.
  • Follow and respond to relevant blogs with business information included (i.e. marketing blogs, small business blogs, startup blogs, etc)

The crazy thing about it all is that in order to find clients in need of a marketing consultant, you’re going to have to market yourself. In essence, this is good practice and can help you to develop valuable marketing strategies that can help you succeed throughout your career.

The world of marketing is forever changing and innovative. If you have a passion for marketing and want to be your own boss, becoming an independent marketing consultant might be just the job for you. You can take your career as far as you want and eventually expand into a company of your own. Be sure to follow the above advice as you begin your quest to become a marketing professional. By having an effective plan of action, you’re sure to establish yourself within your target community and hit the ground running.