Marketing Consultants Are Not Serving SMBs Well

In our last two blogs, we highlighted the real (direct and opportunity) costs of email marketing software. We explored why these tools are legacy (read: pricey and ineffective) marketing approaches for small- to medium-size businesses (SMBs) trying to grow.  Now, we’ll address the reasons marketing consultants aren’t the answer either.

To reach and connect with modern consumers takes more than just email blasts.  But while well-integrated, multi-channel campaigns work, they are beyond the reach of most SMBs because the tools required to execute them are cost-prohibitive.

And that’s only part of the story.  Lack of internal resources is also a major problem.

The reality is not everyone is a marketer (despite Constant Contact’s ubiquitous advertising claims). That leaves most SMBs floundering to try to execute marketing on their own.  But putting dreams of meteoric revenue rises in the hands of so-called expert marketing consultants isn’t the answer either.  In fact, this approach is leaving SMBs feeling frustrated with very slow results—if any results at all.

Three Ways Marketing Consultants Stymy, Not Help, SMB Growth

Too expensive (even when they’re not).  A good marketing consultant is paid about $150 an hour.  A really good consultant, experienced using tools required for multi-channel campaigns and leveraging analytics to optimize results, is going to bill a significant number of hours to do this—a cost that’s often well beyond what a typical SMB can afford.

But if you’re working with someone who is billing few hours, then beware.  Remember, a consultant who knows a lot about marketing can expect to bill at least $150 an hour. So, if you’re paying $300 a month for marketing services, you shouldn’t expect to get more than a couple hours of work, and you’ll see results that reflect that.

Too slow. Even an experienced consultant who understands the value of a multi-channel marketing approach won’t have access to integrated dashboards and technology that allows for time-efficient execution and analysis of campaigns across multiple channels. The kind of technical integration necessary to do this is simply not accessible to an individual marketing expert or small consultancy.  The result is very disappointing return on investment.

Lack of functionality.  Most marketing consultants we speak to are using the same limited email blasting software available to SMBs.  As a result, the services they provide are only as good as the off-the-shelf tools they know and use.

To deliver effective campaigns across multiple channels and analyze results for optimal effectiveness requires more than just email marketing software.  But without the expertise to develop more advanced propriety technology, consultants are left to manage contact data, marketing content and results using a combination of basic, unintegrated software tools that don’t map to revenue or business results.  

For example, to run a campaign that includes an email linking to a web landing page, followed by a text message, a consultant would need four to five different software tools.  It would require tools to push the email, build the landing page, send the text message, and track web page activity.  And that just gets the message out the door.

The next step is making sense of results to optimize future campaigns, which means more time pulling data from disparate sources into a spreadsheet to analyze results, then share with clients and offer recommendations—all of which comes at a very hefty investment.  The whole process is time-consuming, difficult, inefficient and expensive, with the costs all passed on to the SMB client.   

Without technology to allow consultants to easily and efficiently define, execute and analyze fully integrated digital campaigns, they can’t deliver quantifiable value in an affordable way.  To keep their costs down (and retain clients) they resort to email blasting exclusively, with disappointing results.

The ways in which businesses and brands can leverage technology to engage customers is rapidly evolving.  In addition to a lack of integrated tools and dashboards, marketing consultants do not have access to one of the most powerful (and new) channels in an effective multi-channel marketing campaign: automated conversations.

Conversational chat bots are an emerging marketing channel that uses personalized, one-on-one conversations to learn about and remember client interests through automated, conversational technology.  A conversational channel delivers better targeted messaging and higher response and conversion rates.

Without all the necessary functionality, you’re missing opportunities to grow your business.

So what’s the answer?

We’ve seen a marketing automation service effectively and efficiently help SMBs grow through multi-channel marketing campaigns that connect, increase revenue and grow their businesses. See Our Infographic for more about why a marketing automation service is the SMB solution to legacy email approaches.