Digital Marketing is a funny profession.
Want to know why I am saying this?
Because it is difficult to give credit to people for their work.
For example, you really don’t know what is the contribution of a digital strategist. At times it is just a presentation. I mean what is he supposed to deliver?
Creating presentations can’t be qualified as doing work. Right?
Deep down insight, most of the clients believe that it is the guy who is executing the campaigns hands-on is actually the real hero.
Nothing wrong in that assumption.
Digital marketing consultant is an altogether different animal.
It is normal for you to ask, how do I know about this?
So let me tell you, twice in the last ten years, I left my “stable job” and opted for full time consulting career digital marketing
Quite frankly, I had little clue about what digital marketing consulting is.
I’ve been a hustler throughout my decade long career. Hence, consulting for me was not about making money but to give myself a chance to think differently.
Here are few suggestions from my side if you are planning to leave your cushy job for doing freelance digital consulting.
Identify your core Digital marketing skills
Ideally it should not be more than 2-3 skills that’ll get you some quick projects.
In sales they call it as “low hanging fruits” and easy to sell services which are no brainer for any client.
You can’t start your consulting in India with just strategy as your key focus.
Strategy is always considered as a default skill. Very few client pays to a freelance marketing consultant for strategy. They don’t!
However, exceptions might be there.
A digital marketing consultant should always have a specialised skill at the back of his hand like
- Social media management
- Content Writing
- Video Editing
- Software Programming
The biggest benefit of having these skills is that you can sell them like a product because the output is measurable and the scope of work can be defined much easily.
Blogging is no longer optional
Continuous creation of content to establish your skills, knowledge and thought process is absolutely vital in a world which is dominated by mediocre people and companies.
I’ve seen people who were absolutely brilliant in their jobs, but when they started their own marketing consulting practice, they had to re-establish their thought leadership and skills in the market.
Fortunately, you have the benefit of blogs and social media which is an awesome “free publicity” tool for anyone who wants to build their credentials in the market.
Today, clients discover you in two ways, either through the personal referrals or through social media.
I agree that relationships matters in almost every type of consulting but in case of Digital Marketing, you need to build a strong knowledge portfolio for which there is no better tactic than blogging.
TAKE EARLY RISKS
It looks fancy to put a logo of any Fortune 500 company in your sales kit, but for most of the marketing consultants it is a pipe dream.
Most importantly, it is painful and less rewarding to pick up projects for big brands as they are extremely demanding and often force you bend backwards during the project.
If you are starting new as a digital marketing consultant in India, you should always aim at small business customers first as they’ll value your work a lot more than big corporations.
Fortunately, there are plenty of aspiring startup entrepreneurs around who are looking for all kind of support, right from building the website, writing their content, preparing investor pack, managing their digital marketing and lead generation, setting up their email marketing & CRM.
You would find a great connect with the early stage startups as they are sailing in the same boat as you are.
Specialist vs Generalist
It all depends upon what you are trying to pitch.
It is not so much of a problem if you have a tangible skill set like coding / designing / search marketing / SEO / affiliate marketing etc.
But if you are a digital generalist, then it can become a huge problem for you during client meetings.
Clients often have this habit of creating an open ended project scope which would kill you once you start working on the project.
It is absolutely vital to define the scope of the project till the last word.
Make sure you’ve taken the client through the process of execution with clearly defined expectations, timelines and deliverables.
COSTING YOUR CONSULTING OFFERING
Needless to say that Indian clients do not pay enough to marketing consultants.
You really need to spend over a decade to build your quality stamp and may be eventually, put a “non negotiable” tag on yourself.
The problem is that when it comes to digital marketing in India, everyone consider themselves “an expert” so very few people would value the services of a consultant.
Often, the term consultant is associated with “low cost services”. This is one of the major reason as to why some of the best professionals work on projects from outside India when there is plenty of work available in India.
And the worst part is the payment cycles. India is the worst possible place for an individual to start his consulting practice because payments here take forever to land in your account.
Unless your work is indispensable to the client’s success or the organisation is extremely ethical, you would never be able to get your payments on time.
Lets do a quick recap on the top marketing consulting priorities:
- Identify your core skills
- Build your thought leadership through blogs
- Try winning small customers and startups
- Define your scope of services
- Pricing your marketing consulting services