How To Start A Marketing Consulting Business

Updated: January 18th, 2023

How To Start A Marketing Consulting Business

You've stumbled upon the idea to build a marketing consulting business and now you're ready to take the next steps.

There's a lot to think about when building a business, so we put together a guide on how to get started, launch, grow and run your marketing consulting business.

We also provide you with real-life case studies and examples of founders running successful marketing consulting business (and how much💰 they're making today).

avg revenue (monthly)
$122K
starting costs
$21K
gross margin
20%
time to build
240 days
average product price
$140
growth channels
SEO
business model
Subscriptions
best tools
Zoom, Infusionsoft, WordPress
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
24 Pros & Cons
tips
1 Tips

💡 Introduction To Starting A Marketing Consulting Business

Is Starting A Marketing Consulting Business Right For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a marketing consulting business.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros of starting a marketing consulting business

• Flexibility

You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.

• Ability to start your business from home

It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!

• Little startup costs required

The cost to start a marketing consulting business costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 62 to 41,861.

• Traffic to your website

A marketing consulting business gives people a reason to visit your website and to keep coming back to you!

• Gain exposure and experience

This career allows you to gain experience working for multiple different businesses - which will benefit your resume and also keep things interesting for you!

• Unlimited income potential

With starting a marketing consulting business there is no cap as to how much income you can make. The stronger your business skills and the more energy/time you put into your career, the more you'll make.

• Predictable income stream

Your businesses income stream tends to be predictable based on the number of customers you have signed up. This makes financial planning and outlooks much more seamless!

• Higher likelihood of getting referrals

This business is all about referrals, which can be a a very impactful way to attract and retain customers. It's critical that you have a great referral program in place that incentivizes your customers to tell their friends about your product.

• Greater Income Potential

With this business, the sky is the limit in regards to your income potential.

• You can decide who you work with

Gone are the days of working in a toxic work environment with employees that you may not vibe with. As a small business owner, you get to decide who you work and surround yourself with.

• Express your opinions

With starting a marketing consulting business, you can express your opinions and knowledge to your audience, which allows you to build your own reputation and identity.

• You can work from anywhere!

Not only can you start your marketing consulting business from home, you can also run your business from anywhere in the world. This is the entrepreneur dream.

• Strong Demand & Relatively Recession Proof

The demand for marketing consulting business is increasing year over year and the business is known to be relatively recession proof.

• Easy to Learn The Business

When starting your marketing consulting business, there is a ton of information readily available to you online (Facebook groups, Youtube videos, Starter Story etc). This will help you get the business started and answer any questions, doubts or concerns you may have.

• Can build solid foundation of clients

It's unlikely you will have one-off customers as a marketing consulting business. Typically, you have a solid foundation of clients that use your product and services regularly.

Cons of starting a marketing consulting business

• Churn

In this business, customers can cancel their membership or subscription for your services - which can make revenue forecasting challenging and unpredictable. It's important to focus on your churn rates and trends so that you can prevent this as much as possible.

• Time commitment

With starting a marketing consulting business, all responsibilities and decisions are in your hands. Although this is not necessarily a negative thing, work life can take over at times. This can place a strain on friends and family and add to the pressure of launching a new business.

• Difficult to build trust with your customer

With starting a marketing consulting business, there can be minimal face-to-face interaction, which means it can be a lot more difficult to establish trust with your customers. You'll need to go the extra mile with your customer to grab their attention and business.

• Complex development process.

The development process for a marketing consulting business can be quite complex, which may cause delays and challenges when launching and growing your product.

• Impatient customers

You may offer an engaging user experience for your customer, but customers expect a lot and may be impatient if they aren't pleased with your product or service.

• Difficult to scale

With a marketing consulting business, it can be challenging to find ways to scale. Check out this article that discusses scaling your business and the challenges that come with it.

• Learning Curve

When you start your own business, you no longer have upper management to provide you with a playbook for your roles and responsibilities. You should know the ins and outs of every aspect of your business, as every decision will come down to you.

• Takes time to see results & make money

Results and revenue do not come overnight with a marketing consulting business. Often times, it takes weeks, months or even years for your work to monetize.

• Technical issues can be frustrating

Technical issues are common in this business. If you struggle with the technical side of things, you may want to consider outsourcing this responsibility to save yourself the time and frustration.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for marketing consulting business over the last year:

How To Name Your Marketing Consulting Business

It's important to find a catchy name for your marketing consulting business so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your marketing consulting business

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your marketing consulting business so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your marketing consulting business.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

Here's some inspiration for naming your marketing consulting business:

  • The Electronic check availability
  • Primary Produces check availability
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  • OrientedMarketing check availability
  • The Certain Trade Name check availability
  • Dominant check availability
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  • Psychotic Product check availability
  • Merchandise Co check availability
  • InternetMarketing check availability
  • Stable Brand check availability
  • Specific Production Group check availability
  • Mobile Distribution check availability
  • Multilevel Merchandising check availability
  • Collective check availability
  • Cornhusking Marketing check availability
  • Quality check availability
  • The Marginal check availability
  • Packaging Spot check availability
  • Harkening Marketing check availability
  • Best Brandi check availability
  • Same Stain Spot check availability
  • Merchandise Spot check availability
  • SuccessfulMarketing check availability
  • MarketableProduct check availability
  • Multinational Merchandising check availability
  • Specific Intersection Collective check availability
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  • Synthetic Marketplace Place check availability
  • The Concentrated Merchandising check availability
  • Aggressive Merchandising check availability
  • Denounce Pro check availability
  • Cheapest check availability
  • Modern Management check availability
  • Sales Group check availability
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  • Annual Marketing Collective check availability
  • Denounce Co check availability
  • Mobile Marketplace check availability
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  • The Hot check availability
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  • Marketing Pro check availability
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How To Create A Slogan For Your Marketing Consulting Business:

Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.

The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.

Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.

Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your marketing consulting business:

1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words

A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.

2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different

There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:

  • Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
  • Do you make people more successful? How?

3. Be consistent

Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.

It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.

4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan

Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.

When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.

5. Consider your audience

When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.

It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.

6. Get feedback!

This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.

Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.

Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your marketing consulting business:

  • Spot Of The Promotion
  • Product Is A Never Ending Story.
  • Brand Is My Sport.
  • Brand Loaded For Bear.
  • More Marketing Please.
  • Work Hard, Manufactured Harder
  • Where Do You Want Brand To Go Today?
  • Work Hard, Marketing Harder
  • Marginal Equipment Are What We Do
  • Products With History
  • Advertiser Is What We Do
  • Work Hard, Produces Harder
  • Favorite And Behaviorist
  • Product To Play It Safe.
  • My Anti-Drug Is Marketing.
  • Marketing It's Guaranteed.
  • International Advertisings Are What We Do
  • Cleans A Big, Big Marketing For Less Than Half A Crown.
  • Finished Intersection, Marginal Merchandise
  • Favorite Is What We Do
  • Enjoy Brand.
  • Merchandise Is What We Do
  • Equipment Is What We Do
  • Take Two Bottles Into The Brand?
  • Special Brand, Built For You
  • The Ideal Marketing.
  • Intersection Is What We Do
  • New Identities Are What We Do
  • Marginal Files Are What We Do
  • Your Product, Right Away.
  • Stop! This Marketing Is Not Ready Yet!
  • Position Of The Firebrand
  • The Joy Of Product.
  • From Unsuccessful To Productive
  • Mamma Mia, That'sa Spicy Product!
  • If You've Got The Time, We've Got The Product.
  • Make The World A Better Place With Marketing.
  • Marche Is What We Do
  • Cooperative Product, Cooperative Promotional
  • You Better Get Your Product Out.
  • Marginal Product, Done Right
  • Net Product, Take A Seat
  • Effective And Receptive
  • From General To Fussy
  • Central Heating For Marketing.
  • New Production, Natural Production
  • Your Marketing, Right Away.
  • Have A Break. Have A Product.
  • Marketings With Warming
  • Marketing To Play It Safe.
  • Operative Business, Internal Distribution
  • Come Fly The Friendly Marketing.
  • Certain Label, Certain Product
  • Seat Of The Marketing
  • Everyone's Favourite Product.
  • Business Is What We Do
  • Come To Life. Come To Marketing.
  • From Uncooperative To Helpful
  • Every Product Has A Story.
  • Two Product Are Better Than One.
  • Successful Marketing, We Care
  • It's That Product Feeling.

The Consulting Business Model

When implementing a consulting business model, you have a number of approaches to choose from:

Here are a few of the most common consulting business models:

1. The Time-Based Model

This is one of the more traditional consulting business models - where your rate, terms, and scope of work are outlined at the very beginning of the project.

Typically, with this model you would choose a day rate or an hourly rate.

2. The Project-Based Model

With a project-based model, you and your client agree on the scope of work you will be performing for a set amount of money.

There is typically a contract in place which covers the deliverables and expectations from both parties.

3. The Retainer-Based Model

The retainer model involves providing ongoing service for your clients over a specific period of time.

You may not provide a specific deliverable for your client, but instead, a broad scope of work over a set period.

4. The Consulting-Firm Model

This model is becoming more and more popular. The consulting firm model involves hiring freelancers or employees to complete work for your clients on your behalf.

Typically, in this situation, you still manage the relationship with the client, but you delegate some or all of the work to your team.

Which model should you choose?

The best way to determine which business model you will choose is to research other entrepreneurs or agencies in your space that are offering the same or similar service.

This will allow you to identify your competition, set your pricing, and determine your target audience.

How To Find Work As A

Nowadays, finding work as a is not difficult.

There are various platforms that allow you to build your profile and by the touch of a button, become exposed to thousands of businesses looking for your work.

Here are the most popular freelance platforms out there:

Here's what you need to know about the two most popular freelancer platforms + examples of businesses who use them:

Upwork

The largest freelancing website, where businesses connect with talented freelancers.

Businesses using Upwork:

588 successful businesses are using Upwork ➜

Get Upwork ➜

Fiverr

Freelance services marketplace at affordable costs.

Businesses using Fiverr:

524 successful businesses are using Fiverr ➜

Get Fiverr ➜

Do I Have To Pay To Become A Freelancer on Fiverr?

It's free to join Fiverr.

There is no subscription required or fees to list your services. Freelancers keep 80% of each transaction.

Do I Have To Pay To Become A Freelancer on Fiverr?

It's free to join Fiverr.

There is no subscription required or fees to list your services. Freelancers keep 80% of each transaction.

Do I Have To Pay To Become A Freelancer on Upwork?

Upwork charges freelancers a sliding fee based on the lifetime billings with a specific client.

Here's how this breaks down:

  • 20% for the first $500 billed with the client
  • 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000
  • 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000

Check out Upwork's website for all the details.

Do I Have To Pay To Become A Freelancer on Upwork?

Upwork charges freelancers a sliding fee based on the lifetime billings with a specific client.

Here's how this breaks down:

  • 20% for the first $500 billed with the client
  • 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000
  • 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000

Check out Upwork's website for all the details.

Learn more about starting a marketing consulting business:

Where to start?

-> How much does it cost to start a marketing consulting business?
-> Pros and cons of a marketing consulting business

Need inspiration?

-> Other marketing consulting business success stories
-> Marketing ideas for a marketing consulting business

Other resources

-> Profitability of a marketing consulting business
-> Marketing consulting business tips

🎬 How To Start A Marketing Consulting Business

article

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Marketing Consulting Business

If you are planning to start a marketing consulting business, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of starting a marketing consulting business and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $62
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $41,861
Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a marketing consulting business. Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.
Office Space Expenses
Rent: This refers to the office space you use for your business and give money to the landlord. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space. $0 $5,750
Utility Costs For Office Space: Utility costs are the expense for all the services you use in your office, including electricity, gas, fuels, telephone, water, sewerage, etc. $0 $1,150
WiFi & Internet: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is essential. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month! $0 $100
Total Office Space Expenses $0 (min) $7,000 (max)
Employee & Freelancer Expenses
Payroll Costs & Fees: Payroll cost means the expense of paying your employees, which includes salaries, wages, and other benefits. This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K. $150 $250
Employee Hiring Expenses: Apart from payroll and benefits, there are other hiring employees costs. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any other turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate. $1 $2
Employee Rewards: It's vital to acknowledge and reward workers, whether they hit their goals or do a great job. This does not have to be costly. In fact, simply taking workers out to a meal or giving a gift or bonus is among the many ways to show how the worker is valued! $0 $100
Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses $151 (min) $352 (max)
Website Costs
Website Builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article. $10 $500
Web Designer: Web design includes several different aspects, including webpage layout, content creation, and design elements.If you have the skills and knowledge to design your website on your own, then outsourcing this to an expert may not be necessary. There are plenty of other ways you can design a beautiful website using design tools and software. $200 $6,000
Domain Name: Your domain name is the URL and name of your website - this is how internet users find you and your website.Domain names are extremely important and should match your company name and brand. This makes it easier for customers to remember you and return to your website. $12 $200
Business Email Hosting Service: An email hosting runs a dedicated email server. Once you have your domain name, you can set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are G Suite and Microsoft 365 Suite. The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown. $1 $15
Website Hosting Costs: Server hosting is an IT service typically offered by a cloud service provider that hosts the website information and allows remote access through the internet. A hosted server can help you scale up and increase your business’s efficacy, relieving you from the hassles of on-premise operations. $0 $300
Website & Live Chat Tool: If your business values high-end customer service, you must consider utilizing a website chatbot. Website chatbots play a pivotal role in converting site visitors into long-term customers. Typically, there are different tiers of pricing and features offered by Live Chat service providers. $0 $200
Total Website Costs $223 (min) $7,215 (max)
Business Formation Fees
Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here. $500 $2,000
Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your marketing consulting business. $50 $700
Trademark: Filing trademark registration will protect your brand and prevent other businesses from copying your name or product. USPTO has several different types of trademarks, so the cost to apply can vary (typically anywhere from $400-$700). $0 $700
Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses. $0 $1,500
A Patent: Patents provide protection against others stealing or selling your idea.Securing a patent can be very valuable, but it's important that you are 100% sure this will be a smart business move for you, or if this is something to consider down the line.The process of securing a US patent can be both lengthy and pricey, and typically includes filing an application with the USPTO. $5,000 $15,000
Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business and which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business. $50 $500
Total Business Formation Fees $5,600 (min) $20,400 (max)
Software Expenses
Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo. $0 $50
Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here. $0 $100
IT Support: IT support installs and configures hardware and software and solves any technical issues that may arise.IT support can be used internally or for your customers experiencing issues with your product/service.There are a variety of tools and software you can use to help with any technical issues you or your customers are experiencing. This is a great option for businesses that do not have the means to hire a team of professionals. $150 $2,000
Accounting & Invoicing Software: It's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses. $0 $50
CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software system is used to track and analyze your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your business, implementing this, in the beginning, may set your business up for success and save you valuable time. $12 $300
Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here. $0 $25
Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms. $0 $20
Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your marketing consulting business, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business. $0 $50
Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses! $0 $200
File Hosting Service: It's important to make sure the information for your marketing consulting business is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article. $0 $299
Total Software Expenses $162 (min) $3,094 (max)
Advertising & Marketing Costs
Business Cards: A marketing consulting business involves quite a bit of customer interaction, whether that is attending tradeshows, sales calls or simply having face to face interaction with prospective clients. Business cards are a great way to stay front of mind with your clients. $0 $50
Customer Research & Surveys: Many marketing consulting business's conduct industry and consumer research prior to starting their business. Often times, you need to pay for this data or hire a market research firm to help you in this process. $0 $300
Direct Campaigns, Printing and Mailing: Although it may sound old-school, traditional marketing methods can be a cost-effective way to drive awareness for your brand. This includes flyers, postcards, sales letters, coupons, special offers, catalogs and brochures. $0 $300
Affiliate Marketing Commission & Fees: If you want to increase revenue for your marketing consulting business, affiliate marketing is a great way to promote your product to a new audience. When determining affiliate commission rates you will offer, you will want to take into account the price and margin for your product to ensure affiliate marketing is worth it for your business. According to Monitor Backlinks, the average affiliate commission rate should be somewhere between 5% to 30%. To learn more about how to set commission rates, check out this article.. $0 $250
Influencer Marketing: Partnering with like-minded influencers is one of the most effective ways to grow your social media presence. Many small businesses simply gift a free item in exchange for an influencer post, or pay the influencer directly. $0 $750
Press: If your business and story is unique enough, press and media attention may come to you, but odds are, you may need to do your own outreach and budget for this. We put together a guide here that discusses different press opportunities (both free and paid). $0 $500
Google Ads: With Google Ads you have the ability to control how much you spend by simply setting a monthly budget cap. Additionally, with these ads you only pay for results, such as clicks to your website or phone calls! It's okay to start with a small budget at first and make changes accordingly if you see valuable returns. $0 $300
Facebook & Instagram Ads: With Facebook and Instagram ads, you set your budget and pay for the actions you want (whether that be impressions, conversions, etc).You can learn more about pricing based on your impressions here. $0 $350
Total Advertising & Marketing Costs $0 (min) $2,800 (max)
Training & Education Expenses
Consulting fees: You may find yourself needing to hire a consultant for different aspects of your marketing consulting business. The cost for this varies depending on the scope of work and length of contract. $0 $1,000
Total Training & Education Expenses $0 (min) $1,000 (max)
Total Starting Costs $62 (min) $41,861 (max)

Raising Money For Your Marketing Consulting Business

Here are the most common ways to raise money for your marketing consulting business:

Bootstrapping

You may not need funding for your marketing consulting business.

In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.

So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?

This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**

Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business

Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:

  • Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
  • Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
  • Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
  • Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
  • Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!

Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article

VC Funding

VC funding is a traditional and long process, but an effective way to raise money for your business.

The term "VC funding" refers to venture capital firms investing in businesses in exchange for equity.

The VC's (venture capitalists) are an individual or small group investing in your business and typically require substantial ownership of the business, with the hope of seeing a return on their investment.

VC's are typically the best approach for businesses with high startup costs - where it would be very difficult to raise the money on your own or through a loan.

When deciding whether to take this approach, it's important that you have a few things in place first, and know what you're getting yourself into:

Determine if your business is ready

Having an idea is not enough to get VC funding.

Typically, VC's will check to make sure you have these things in place prior to closing any deal:

  • An MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
  • A founding team with all proper documents in place (articles of organization, business formation)
  • A validated idea with actual customers buying your product/service

Get everything in place and build a pitch deck

A VC individual or firm will be expecting a fine-tuned presentation that gives an overview of your business.

Here's what you should consider including in your pitch deck:

  • Management team, their previous experience + current roles in the business
  • Market challenge and solution
  • Company financials - including a P&L statement, cash flow statement, and projections
  • Company progress
  • Investment amount - how much do you need and why?

Research the right VC to fund your business

Research the types of VC investors out there and what niche they focus on.

Then, put together a list of target VC's you want to approach and your strategy around setting up meetings.

Be sure you have everything in place (as discussed above) before setting up any meeting!

Make sure the terms and expectations are right for your business

Committing to VC funding is a big deal and a decision that should not be made lightly.

Although the money and experience from VC's can help your business quickly grow, you are also giving away a stake in the company, and the money comes with strings attached.

Be sure you do your due diligence in finding the right investor - one that truly believes in the growth and success of your business.

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In Starting A Marketing Consulting Business?

As a marketing consulting business, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.

Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:

Coaching Skills

Coaching and leadership skills are critical to have when starting a marketing consulting business.

Here's what this looks like:

  • Empathy & Emotional Intelligence: The ability to identify and manage the emotions/needs of your clients is a critical part of the job
  • Motivation: Motivating and encouraging your clients to push themselves physically and often mentally. You will be holding them accountable!
  • Patience: Results don't happen overnight - it's important both you and your client are able to remain calm and patient throughout the process

Business Savvy Skills

When starting a marketing consulting business, there are a few fundamental business skills you will want to learn in order to be successful:

  • Leadership and training skills: A great team starts with YOU. Make sure you have all company policies and training procedures in place prior to hiring your team
  • Decisive and self-confident: Over the course of your career, you will need decisions that could impact your business significantly. It's important you are able to think clearly and rationally about these decisions.
  • Ability to understand the financials: You don't need to be an accountant, but it is important that you are able to clearly understand and define metrics such as expenses, revenue, profit, margins, COGS, etc.
  • Strategic Thinking: Setting clear goals and benchmarks, identifying opportunities, risks. Ability to effectively communicate these insights to your team.

These are a few of many business savvy skills you should have (or work on) when starting a marketing consulting business.

For a full list, check out this article here.

Resarch and Writing Skills

Research and writing skills are critical when starting a marketing consulting business. Here's what this looks like:

  • Basic computer & technology skills (Microsoft office or Google sheets/docs knowledge, data input, and proficiency in typing)
  • Creativity & originality in your work and approach
  • Great communication skills and ability to meet deadlines
  • Understanding of SEO

Other skills that businesses find valuable include digital marketing skills, basic web design, and accounting abilities. Some employers may also look for a marketing consulting business that has a bachelor's degree or formal education.

Additionally, you may want to consider putting together a portfolio of past work and experience. This includes samples of writing/research pieces, from school projects to internship work to career experience.

Advice For Starting A Marketing Consulting Business

We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.

Here's the best advice we discovered for starting a marketing consulting business:

Keith Perhac, founder of SegMetrics ($/month):

Building a team complements and improves itself is the best strategy to build a sustainable business.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your marketing consulting business.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?

Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).

But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.

There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:

1. Owner's Draw

Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.

At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.

As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.

This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.

2. Salary

If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.

The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:

  • Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
  • Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
  • Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
  • Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
  • Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.

https://media.giphy.com/media/xT0xeLTRncS90ptpfi/giphy.gif

To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.

How To Price Your Marketing Consulting Business

One of the most challenging aspects to starting a marketing consulting business is determining how much to charge for your marketing consulting business.

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your marketing consulting business, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your marketing consulting business so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your marketing consulting business may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your marketing consulting business, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your marketing consulting business to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your marketing consulting business is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your marketing consulting business fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your marketing consulting business, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

Rate Calculator: How to Calculate The Price For Your Marketing Consulting Business Services

Our calculator is designed to be simple and easy to use.

The goal is to help you set realistic expectations and understand the hourly rate you should be charging to make your desired profit.

Please input below:

What Type Of Clients Will Buy Your Marketing Consulting Business

It's important to first establish who you will be selling to, whether it's to businesses or consumers.

Typically, in this industry, products are sold to B2B markets (business-to-business).

Let's take a look at what this means for your marketing consulting business:

B2B (or business to business) is a transaction where your marketing consulting business sell's your product or service to other businesses to help them grow.

Business-to business industries typically includes SaaS products, B2B marketing firms, and other business supply companies.

Unlike B2C markets, the audience is not a consumer at all, but instead a business - so it's important to understand how to best market your product/services to that target audience.

With B2B, driving leads means understanding another company's business processes and creating a business strategy that will help their operation scale and grow.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Your main focus when selling to other businesses is showing value to their business and overall return on investment
  • Focus on building relationships, rather than extending your brand awareness through social networks.
  • Marketing approach should include things like attending conventions, conferences, and optimizing your online presence (SEO, email outreach, etc)
  • Understand that the sales process may mean more effort educating your client, so it's important that you have a well-trained sales team that is knowledgable about the product

Identify Target Customer

A very critical piece in building marketing consulting business is to identify your ideal target customer.

  • Develop a niche and create a consistent brand that reflects your target customer.
  • The colors, logo, content, and overall website should resonate with your target customer and should draw them in by helping them solve their specific "need".

Lydia Lee, founder of Screw The Cubicle identifies exactly the type of customer her services are curated for:

My core work focuses on helping corporate professionals transition their expertise and skills into an independent career where they choose a pathway like freelancing, consulting, and solopreneurship to earn a great living.

From self-guided courses like WorkReinvented to my 90 Day Launch program, the mission is to support passionate individuals to build the life they want with a business they can love.

Building an MVP (Minimal Viable Product)

When building a marketing consulting business, it's critical that you first validate your product/service rather than rushing to build it right away.

This could save you months, if not years of building the wrong product/service.

If you're hoping to decrease any sort of risk that comes with launching your marketing consulting business, designing a prototype can be a great way to de-risk your situation.

The point of your marketing consulting business prototype is that it doesn't have to be perfect.

In the beginning stages, it doesn't matter how rough V1 of your prototype is, it's more important to just get started and you can always refine from there based on feedback from your network and most importantly your customers.

How To Build A MVP

Here are several different ways of building a prototype/MVP:

  • Start by building a landing page to see if customers actually need your product and if they are willing to pay for it
  • Build a very basic version of your idea and ask for immediate feedback from potential customers
  • Present a problem and solution via Facebook/Instagram Ads and see what the response is like

Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:

I’d tried launching a bunch of products (which all failed) before my flagship course finally took off. The big difference was taking the time to validate up front.

I wanted to make sure people would buy what I was selling before investing time to create it.

I started by sending an email to my audience asking if anyone would be interested in beta testing a premium resource around job searching. That was my first point of validation, I wanted to see if people were even interested in the general idea.

After reaching a critical mass of replies (I aimed for 50), I used Google docs to create an outline of the course. It walked through:

  • Why it’s so hard to land jobs today (immediately addressing a pain point)
  • My story (qualifying myself)
  • Introduction of the course - what it is and what to expect
  • A module-by-module breakdown of what’s included-
  • Testimonials from people in the audience who had seen success
  • Pricing (with a 50% discount off the future “retail price” with a working payment link)

I also created a survey that asked people:

  • If they were interested in buying the course (yes/no)
  • What they loved about the course
  • What was missing from the course
  • What questions they had about the course
  • Then I replied to each interested person and asked them to read through the course outline and then fill out the survey.

Of the responses, I singled out people who said they would buy the course and encouraged them to pre-order using the payment link (offering a 50% discount and early beta access).

I read a lot about tiered pricing leading up to the course launch so I planned to launch with three sticker prices of $47, $147, $297. The first price was for a version of the course that allowed access to 2 out of the five modules. The second was for the full course, and the third was for the course along with a 30-minute coaching session.

Given the pre-order beta was an “MVP,” I only mentioned the middle price so it came in around $73 for beta users.

My goal was to get a 10%+ to sell-through rate. I had 50 people “interested” so I needed at least 5 buyers. I knew that if I could get 10% of people to put money down for something that didn’t exist yet, that was a good sign.

I ended up getting 20 pre-orders which validated the product and I spent the next two months building it!

Mark Dusseau, founder of Dusseau and Company dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:

Case Study

Our first client came via referral, a music professor from my undergraduate studies. He wanted to build an invite-only app where users could hire life coaches and consultants.

The app needed real-time text, video, and audio communications and payment features.

Since this was our company's first project, we took a very corporate approach to building the software; this cost us a lot. We hadn't built out our internal processes yet and went with what we knew best.

The first phase was the ideation phase, which we charged around $10k for. As for expenses, we had two staffing expenses, me and a UX/UI resource who is now our head of design. We spent time unpacking the business, personas, workflows, etc. We wanted to understand the business and customers fully. We spent a ton of time on market research and interviewing customers, the primary research activities.

Luckily for us, the professor already had many users waiting for the product to launch, so the adoption was seamless.

We broke the contract out in a multi-phase approach. Once we all agreed on what we were building based on the research and product requirements, think Product Requirements Document (PRD), we would then create their prototype.

Our approach to prototyping is simple; we created a prototype that encompassed everything they wanted in parallel with documenting the user stories that align. We started with a low fidelity screen, iterated on those, and then switched to high fidelity screens before buttoning it up by making it clickable. We used Sketch to build the prototype and would have working sessions where everyone would jump in real time to collaborate on the user experience and interface.

Once this project phase was done, we would then negotiate on development. This was the most cumbersome part of the entire ordeal. I was adamant about being transparent and fair in my dealing, so I would give him an estimate at the user story level to make the business decision on what he did and didn't want. Of course, most would disagree with this approach, but I think this is the fairest way to approach development projects. Plus, we factor this time and effort into our pricing for prototyping.

Once we finally agreed on a price, we kicked off our development efforts. We built the web app with two engineers, myself and an old colleague of mine from my corporate days. We charged an hourly rate of $65 per engineer. So in total, they were spending around $130 an hour. They ended up spending around $46k with us for their MVP. As for cost, we didn't have any besides our rates. They paid for all of their software cost. I paid my old colleague $50 an hour. He was a contractor so I didn't have to pay insurance or anything like that. I was looking at about 23% in profit. I use the word profit loosely because you have to factor in taxes, which we pay but loathe.

The goal was to release features every week so that they could get users in the app as soon as possible. It took us about two months to build their MVP, and the founder kept us on the project for a year.

Overall, the project was enjoyable. I got to work with a Black founder; I helped them build a system to manage over $100k in transactions within their first year and create opportunities for independent life coaches and consultants. Now he can refer to himself as a Professor of Music and startup founder. The company is no longer around, I believe they ended up selling the software to another company.

Keep it lean; all you need is a robust process, incredible talent, and worry about the rest later.

We are still working very hard, but the early days were full of hiccups, laughs, stress, and challenges like any other company bootstrapping all of their resources to build a service culture where anyone can come and bring their ideas to life.

A event planning app we built for a celebrity wedding planner

-  
Mark Dusseau, on starting Dusseau and Company ($35,000/month) full story ➜

🚀 How To Launch Your Marketing Consulting Business

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Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

Best Website Platforms To Use For Your Marketing Consulting Business:

There are a variety of websites platforms out there, and it's important to choose the right one that will set you up for success.

Here's everything you need to know about the two most common platforms for your marketing consulting business:

WordPress

Free and open-source content management system based on PHP and MySQL.

Free to use/open source but you will need to pay for the hosting.

Businesses using WordPress:

866 successful businesses are using WordPress ➜

Get WordPress ➜

Squarespace

The all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website.

  • Personal Plan: $12/month
  • Business Plan: $18/month
  • Basic: $26/month
  • Advanced: $40/month

  • Pricing: Freemium

  • Twitter: @squarespace

  • Website: squarespace.com

Businesses using Squarespace:

136 successful businesses are using Squarespace ➜

Get Squarespace ➜

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Traditional Launch Strategies For Your Marketing Consulting Business:

There are various different ways you can launch your marketing consulting business successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your marketing consulting business:

  • Set up a Facebook page for your business. This is a great way to establish an online presence
  • Host an event in a fun location with drinks & food. This is a great way to get exposure in the local community.
  • Get Press! Pitch your story to the media and you may just land in an amazing publication
  • Live sales to get customers excited
  • Send a hand-written letter in the mail with a discount on your services to the local community/neighborhoods.

Jeremy Enns, founder of Counterweight Creative dives deep into the process of launching the business:

Case Study

When I first started, I catered my services heavily to my client’s needs and what they were asking for. While this was a great way to get clients early on, I soon realized that by creating set production and launch packages, I could charge more, and do more to ensure the success of the podcasters I worked with, as there were often crucial steps that they were overlooking when producing and launching their shows on their own.

Most of the people we work with have zero experience working with audio, and many have limited experience with online marketing and content production of any sort. One of the ways we’ve been able to justify raising rates while also helping our clients get better results has been by incorporating a lot of education into our onboarding processes.

When it comes to getting started, I’m a big believer in moving slowly but intentionally. One of the most common mistakes I see is people quitting their stable jobs and going all-in on an idea that they’re excited about but is unproven.

Many clients come to us thinking all they need is the post production aspect of what we do. The problem is that without understanding how to capture great sounding audio at the source, conduct engaging interviews, structure their overall content plans, and introduce their listeners into a funnel, they’re not going to get the results they really want from the podcast. Expanding my initial services into this educational side of things was a big turning point early on that established me in many client’s eyes as a podcast expert rather than simply an audio editor.

I also shifted from a per-episode billing model to a monthly “subscription” (of sorts) model. In the early days, I was charging as little as $30/ep, which often would take me 2+ hours to complete. Since I had a full-time job at the time and wasn’t chasing every single client however, I was fairly aggressive with my rate raises, upping my prices by $5/ep with every new client I got.

The monthly subscription helped keep my clients accountable to getting me and my team the materials we need to produce their shows on time, keeps them consistently putting out episodes which helps them grow their shows, and allows us to reliably predict our monthly revenues and expenses. But there were issues with how I initially set those monthly fees.

After switching to the package pricing 6-12 months into the business, I was making a better hourly rate, but I was still shooting in the dark when it came to how I had set my prices. I made rough calculations based on how long I figured the tasks included in the packages would take me, but had nothing to really back them up.

It wasn’t until 2 years in that I read a book called Profit First and really understood how I should be approaching pricing. To that point, I had a ton of overhead that I wasn’t accounting for when I was determining my pricing structure.

I had been in decent shape when it was just me, but as I started adding members to my team and outsourcing a lot of the work I had personally been doing, I realized that my current pricing was unsustainable as I transitioned from freelancer to agency.

I started tracking my expenses in much greater depth and basing all pricing by shooting for a minimum 40% profit margin over my costs - which included the costs associated with my own time spent working on any project. Setting prices this way rather than going with my gut has sped up the proposal process, reduced my own stress, and allows me to be confident that we’re profitable on every project we take on.

When it came to start up costs, there were almost zero. I already had the business registered and a website set up for my music production business which I then re-focussed on podcast clients. I owned all the software I needed, and did zero advertising, relying on free platforms like UpWork at the start and word of mouth as we grew.

I didn’t have an official launch for the business, initially applying for freelance job postings and doing cold outreach to potential clients, which grew into a referral-driven business.

For the first year I had almost zero online presence, just a simple one-page website outlining the brand story and the services I offered.

One of the things I had learned during my cold outreach and freelance marketplace application phase was that personality was incredibly important, and that clients would pay a premium to work with people they felt like they connected with on a personal level. So with that in mind, I injected as much personality into my website copy as possible, making jokes, and writing in a style that would appeal to the type of people that I actually wanted to work with.

For a while, I opened all cold outreach emails with something along the lines of:

“Ok, so here’s the deal yo. My name is Jeremy and I guess you could say I’m a bit like a zombie, except instead of brains, I have an insatiable urge to devour audio and spit it out the other side all clean and spiffy! BTW audio is way tastier than brains, not that I know what brains taste like...”

Our personality driven copy on our website as well as on all our marketing channels does a good job of pre-screening people, so that often before we even talk over a video call with a potential client, we’re both feeling really good about the prospect of working together.

A year into the business I began writing a weekly blog covering podcasting topics that I didn’t feel were getting covered elsewhere. Things like how to improve your podcast by using the principles of storytelling (specifically as they’re used in Star Wars of course. Yes, I’m a nerd…), what Oprah can teach us about podcasting and breaking down a client’s podcast launch plan were topics I covered among many others. I also started a Facebook group, Cut The Bullshit Podcasting, which has grown into a thriving community of 1500 podcasters, and is often recognized as one of the top podcasting groups in terms of usefulness and the positive, supportive vibe of the community.

-  
Jeremy Enns, on starting Counterweight Creative ($16,000/month) full story ➜

🌱 How To Grow Your Marketing Consulting Business

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Build A Facebook Community

Building a community is a great way to grow your network and your business.

There are several different ways of building a community, one of the most effective (and simplest) ways is to build a Facebook group

Setting up the group page takes less than 10 minutes, and we've outlined ways the top 5 ways to create an engaging and successful group:

  • Make the group exclusive. This may sound counter-intuitive, however, this ensures privacy and that the group will feel comfortable posting and engaging with members.
  • Try to be warm and welcoming. A great way to do this is by having a "Member Monday" where you welcome new members and ask them to introduce themselves in the group
  • Use polls/surveys. This is a great way to know your audience and see what people want more of in the group (more business tips, networking opportunities, etc).
  • Include influential people & conduct AMA's (ask me anything). This is a great way to get members engaged
  • Host an in-person (or virtual) event with members in the group. This will create stronger relationships and build a strong community.
Case Study

Mike Doehla, founder of Stronger U, an online nutrition company noticed that his customers needed a little motivation and sense of community:

Most diets are lonely so we wanted to give support and a community.

I think many people fail diets because there is no one to talk to and no accountability.

You can by a book, or google a meal plan but who’s going to keep you on track? We will. The entire SU community.

We give our members access for life to our Facebook community filled with people around the world who are looking out for everyone’s success.

Most diets make up arbitrary rules and we thought they just didn’t make sense. Meal timing, Cutting carbs, butter in coffee, sugar being the devil? Ehh no need to overthink that stuff.

We’ll give you the science behind of what we do and show you what actually matters based on real research.

Luckily we have a PhD at our disposal to educate our staff and members so everyone is getting the most up to date information out there.

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Mike Doehla, on starting Stronger U ($500,000/month) full story ➜

Improve your SEO

SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."

Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your marketing consulting business.

Publish Great Content

Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.

There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.

So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"

  • Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
  • Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
  • Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
  • Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
  • Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).

Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.

If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.

Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.

Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:

  • Trello
  • Airtable
  • If you prefer to keep it simple, your average spreadsheet is just as useful!

Backlinks

Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.

Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.

Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.

For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.

Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:

  • Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
  • Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
  • Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
  • Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
  • Leverage existing business relationships

Learn more about the fundamentals of SEO ➜ here and check out Neil Patel's 3 Powerful SEO Tips below

Build A Blog

One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.

We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:

Consistency and Quantity

Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.

What’s more important is consistency and quantity.

Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.

This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.

Oversaturation

The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.

This is nonsense.

There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.

For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.

You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.

Patience & Persistence

Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.

The only thing you have control over is your content.

You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.

So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.

Where to share your blog content

Mailing List

I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.

Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.

Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.

An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.

Reddit

Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.

It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.

Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn

Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.

Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.

Facebook Groups

When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.

Grow Your Email List

The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.

This could also be anything from:

  • Ebook
  • Fascinating case study
  • Video series
  • Free week of the product
  • Discount on the product

Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.

Case Study

Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:

We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.

Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them.

We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.

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Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($12,000,000/month) full story ➜

Add an exit-intent popup to your online store

A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

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Case Study

One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.

That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.

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Steven Sashen, on starting Xero Shoes ($4,000,000/month) full story ➜

Improve Your Email Marketing

Different types of emails

Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:

  • Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
  • Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
  • Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
  • Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
  • Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!

Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!

Abandonded Cart Flow

The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.

Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.

Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."

Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.

Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.

Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:

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Things they do well:

  • Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
  • Offer a small discount + free shipping
  • Great design + clear call to actions!

Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to marketing consulting business.

There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.

Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:

  • Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
  • Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
  • Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
  • Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
  • LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses

It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:

Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:

  • Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
  • Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
  • Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?

From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!

Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.

Case Study

Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:

The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.

We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.

Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:

  • Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
  • Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
  • Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
  • Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
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Andy Hayes, on starting Plum Deluxe Tea ($75,000/month) full story ➜

🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Marketing Consulting Business

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How To Retain Customers For Your Marketing Consulting Business

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your marketing consulting business.

Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your marketing consulting business:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write a hand written thank you note
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

Sophia O'Neal, founder of Ignore No More dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:

Case Study

Clients hire us for 3 reasons:

  1. Value - our “scope call” is a marketing coffee chat. I offer help and expect nothing in return. If you hire us, great! If not, then your marketing got an upgrade, and that’s the core mission of why I do what I do. But either way, the client gets value upfront
  2. Transparency - Our pricing is productized and live on the site and we have completely open slack channels and notion task management dashboard. The client knows who is working on their project and where every piece of the puzzle is at all times.
  3. Authenticity - I've started and closed multiple companies. I built - and then shelved a microSaaS product. I speak the bootstrap language because I've bootstrapped the agency. This isn’t faking till I make it. This is real! I love marketing and am unabashed in that love and making marketing work for a founder from the first coffee chat to every website design element and campaign suggestion.

Now within those 3 things, I've tried a lot of marketing channels and campaigns. Each year I've done a plan and a retro on what’s worked for us!

Here’s the link to the actual FigJam for the 2022 to 2023 marketing plan.

A lot of my best marketing ideas have been from ongoing brainstorming between my teammates and me! It’s one of the joys of having a half-freelancer team. We’re all looking for clients and our services are complementary, so when one person finds a channel that works they’re quick to share, and then we all iterate and find what works for us!

My most successful CTA is the coffee chats by far! But I think LinkedIn as a distribution channel and how-to guide (in multiple forms!) is going to be the winner for 2024.

But our clear, authentic messaging on the website plus transparent deliverables and pricing is usually what seals the deal for new clients and keeps them coming back. It took some time to productize (we’re 80% productized now!) and I walked through my thought process for the first time here and then the second round of fine tuning here, but now our services are broken into 3 clear categories:

  1. Positioning & Messaging
  2. Website Design & Dev
  3. Marketing Strategy & Execution

Positioning & Messaging begins with customer interviews and surveys, followed by brand positioning, brand identity, ideal customer profile(s), new target audiences, and churn analysis. Once we’re good on those fronts, we build a mini marketing plan outlining the top 3 channels/campaigns to try, initial ROI estimates for them, and resources required for each channel/campaign.

Website Design & Dev is rooted in that messaging and includes a lot of thought processes that a head of marketing may be involved in, but an out-of-the-box website agency might not. Like long-term architecture and how that ties into marketing automations, product, and long-term optimization.

And finally, we get to the marketing strategy and execution management! There’s no one-size-fits-all here. We make each engagement custom to the client and based on the marketing insight we pull from customer interviews and where their marketing infrastructure currently stands. That’s because the best marketing campaigns are built around customer needs, not a marketer’s imagination.

I’m dead set on doing those services in that order. It's one thing to say "Let's talk to customers" but another to listen and turn what they say into conversion-lovin’ copy and actionable marketing strategy! If a potential client's not down for that, we're likely to say “no thanks.” I say “we” because even though the buck stops with me, it’s the Ignore No More team that gives us our edge.

When it comes to having repeat clients disappointment (not outright anger!) is what I’ve found to be the #1 reason a client doesn’t refer to us or no longer wants to work with us. Disappointment is a result of unmet expectations. So I'm clear about expectations for the price (decided in advance and stuck to unless there’s a clear scope change!), the timelines, and the deliverables and give constant communication throughout the project.

Our repeat and highest referring clients are the ones I've had the clearest and most up-front communication with. It gets easier with time to communicate bad news, but it never gets easy.

With an international team and client base, there are also a lot of cultural differences in work! Early on I made some assumptions, and now I ask upfront about everything and give a lot of cultural wiggle room! And I always assume good intent. It’s one of the things that supercharges the company culture and is the cause - not the result - of the goodwill we have with clients.

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Sophia O'Neal, on starting Ignore No More ($13,000/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

Build a Referral Program

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business and acquire new customers. Especially when you are starting out, it’s important to build a solid referral program to encourage existing customers to help you find new ones.

A great way to do that is by offering a reward (ie. credit on your service or cash) to customers that refer you to their friends and family.

A fantastic referral program will help with clout, credibility, and establishing yourself in the space.

Authenticity

As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.

Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.

Case Study

Be Authentic

If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.

There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.

Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.

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Valentin Ozich, on starting I Love Ugly ($300,000/month) full story ➜

Word of Mouth

The most tried and true way to grow a marketing consulting business is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.

Why you should focus on word of mouth:

  • Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
  • 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
  • 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing

Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜

How To Crush The Sales Process For Your Marketing Consulting Business

You may find yourself in a spot where you're ready to hire a few (or many) salespeople to support the sales conversion process.

Regardless if you have one or thirty salespeople, it's critical that you assign them specific roles and responsibilities to nurture the client and provide excellent support.

Mike Korba, co-founder of User.Com walks us through the entire sales process and which teams are responsible for what:

Case Study

User.com Sales Process

Each user and account is qualified with a specialist. For business leads, they are handled by the sales team, and if they are qualified we give them a demo, more than often at the end of their fourteen-day trial. If they’re happy they’ll add a payment, and get an account manager, so a customer support and success team who will help implement the solution and to use the technology.

Sometimes, users will convert naturally on their own, after using the freemium product and finding it to be something that they will find beneficial.

After they convert, we help with onboarding, give them some personalized tips for their specific business or industry to grow plus all kinds of support, for whatever they need - something we take huge pride in.

The team is right now more than 30 people, with more than half working on the IT and product side, and the rest are in three teams: Support, Marketing, and Sales who all work together very closely.

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Mike Korba, on starting User.com ($100,000/month) full story ➜

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your marketing consulting business.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

meet the author
Pat Walls

I'm Pat Walls and I created Starter Story - a website dedicated to helping people start businesses. We interview entrepreneurs from around the world about how they started and grew their businesses.