What’s the difference between a marketing coach and a marketing consultant?

Janine Coombes looking comically quizzical about the question with a blue spotty dress on

Decided that you need some help with marketing your small business? Great!

Now, which to choose…

Marketing Coach or Marketing Consultant

The terms coach and consultant are used almost interchangeably in the entrepreneurial world. Small business owners sense that there’s a distinction, but nobody can quite put their finger on how to tell them apart. And, more importantly, why they would pick one rather than the other.

In this blog I’m going to delve into what you can expect from marketing coaches versus marketing consultants.

But first, let’s start with the ways that they are similar:

  • They’re both likely to have formal marketing qualifications.
  • They’ll both start with your goals; getting clear on what you’re trying to achieve is key for any marketing to work.
  • They’ll both uncover options you wouldn’t be able to see. An objective eye is a huge part of working with a coach or consultant!
  • Neither will take on the delivery of projects. If that’s what you want then you need to look more for outsourced marketing resource, for example a marketing agency or a marketing freelancer. Look out for people who have ‘done for you’ in their service description.
  • The scale of results should be similar, regardless of whether you pick a marketing coach versus a marketing consultant. However, that depends on you being equipped to carry out the work that’s suggested. For instance budget or a delivery team.
  • Both should have extensive experience of planning and executing strategies to hit other people’s goals. In other words, they’ve done lots of marketing for other people. Believe it or not there are a lot of people helping people with their marketing who have only done marketing for themselves. This means they have a more narrow field of experience.

Overview of a Marketing Coach

A marketing coach is more likely to work one-to-one with a business owner. The aim of the marketing coach is to get a full view of the business owner’s goals, before presenting a range of options. The point here is that the ultimate decision of what to do lies with the business owner. 

A marketing coach gets to know a business owner’s values, mission and desired lifestyle before sharing marketing strategies and tactics to meet goals as efficiently as possible. The ultimate decision on what direction to take lies with the business owner.

How do marketing coaches work?

They’ll have more of a coaching approach than consultants. Their role is more about helping the business owner to get clarity on their business as a whole and to identify opportunities they may have missed. 

They’ll also be looking out for assumptions that the business owner may have, that might be covering up self-limiting beliefs. One of the main distinctions between a marketing coach and a consultant is that the coach takes on a more supportive role, rather than pure instruction.

Marketing coaches are more likely to work remotely than in-person e.g. using Zoom, Skype or other online video conferencing software. Most will also include some sort of in-between call support, either on email or a free messaging app like WhatsApp or Voxer.

What do marketing coaches cost?

As a rough guide, costs usually range from £250 to £1,000 per month for a package of online calls and in-between call support. 

Coaching packages of 3-12 months are most common. They’re either paid in advance in one lump sum or split into monthly payments. I prefer monthly payments; it’s easier for me to manage my cash flow that way, and most of my clients prefer it too.

Who are marketing coaches best for?

If you’re running a small business on your own, such as a coaching business, consultancy or done for you service provider a marketing coach could be the business sounding board you’ve been looking for. Expect clarity on your brand, offers and messaging along with support for your mindset and actionable plans that are tailored to you and the way you like to do things.

For a more thorough break down, read What is a Marketing Coach.

Overview of a Marketing consultant

Marketing consultants have similar objectives to marketing coaches. They both want to get you where you want to go as efficiently as possible. However, a marketing consultant is more likely to tell you in absolute terms what needs to be done; they’re aiming for best practice rather than what’s the best fit for you.

This is because they tend to work with larger companies with 10 or more employees to huge corporations. The personal preferences of the owner are practically irrelevant to which strategies the consultant will come up with. For example, mindset is unlikely to be a common discussion point when working with a consultant. The business objectives of a larger company aren’t wrapped up with feelings of self worth. Fear of failure is more linked with whether they’ll hit their targets or not!

A marketing consultant works with key stakeholders to get clear on the business’ values and long term goals before recommending marketing strategies and tactics to meet those goals as efficiently as possible. 

How do marketing consultants work?

Consultants are more likely to go into your office and work a half day to a day at a time. They’re more likely to work with bigger teams; projects that’ll have more stakeholders so more people need to be kept in the loop. But it’s all down to what exactly you need. It might be possible for the consultant to carry out some of the work remotely, for example.

What do marketing consultants cost?

A big consultancy would charge upwards of £1,500 per day for one of their consultants. A representative from a boutique agency is more likely to be charged at £1,000-£2,000 per day. And a freelance marketing consultant could cost anywhere between £250 and £2,000 per day, depending on their experience and skillset. Contact in between meetings will usually be included in the price, within reason.

They usually charge per day or per half day and might suggest a package of work e.g. an 8 month project with 3 full, in-house days per month for the duration. 

Some consultants charge a retainer; a set monthly fee so they’re on standby for when you need them. This is more common for marketing agencies though.

Who are marketing consultants best for?

Consultants are usually better for businesses who have teams of employees who’ll be able to  deliver the work that’s being planned. The marketing consultant won’t usually take on the implementation unless specifically asked to do so; this would have to be agreed and paid for up-front. There are marketing consultants who specialise in this ‘full service’; from strategy, through planning to implementation, but they’re in the minority and they’re more likely to call themselves a marketing agency, freelance marketer or marketing outsourcer. 

In conclusion

Whether you’ve decided to work with a marketing consultant or marketing coach, it’s good to do the following checks:

  • If you’ve got an interest in a specific marketing channel e.g. your favourite social media channel, check whether they have the knowledge you want. But bear in mind your assumption about what tactics will be best for you might not be correct…
  • Check out their testimonials and, if possible, speak to previous clients. The proof is in the pudding!
  • Have a quick stalk on LinkedIn. Who have they worked with before? What types of companies? If you’re lucky, you might have shared connections that you can reach out to and see if they’re all they appear to be.
  • Have at least one call with the coach or consultant to see what they’re like and how they work. This should be a no-obligation ‘discovery’ call. If they don’t offer this, run for the hills! An investment like this needs to be carefully thought through. 

Personally, I’m a marketing coach. If you want a more in depth analysis of what that actually means, read my blog What Is A Marketing Coach?

Want to know what other options are out there for you? Here’s a run down of what to expect from a marketing coach, marketing consultant, marketing mentor and marketing trainer.

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