The last 12 months have been tough for marketing consultants.
Venture capital has evaporated.
Economic conditions are volatile.
Marketing budgets have been reduced.
It's a punch to the gut for consultants who saw the benefits of the digital transformation wave in 2020 and 2021.
Gone are the days when their inboxes pinged with leads, and companies were happy to jump into healthy retainers.
Today, companies want to invest in marketing that quickly moves the needle.It's:
• Advertising (brute force to capture the spotlight
• ABM to target specific people and companies. It's a quality or quantity proposition.
• Content marketing (supported by AI) to create guides, eBooks, videos and case studies that are prescriptive and inspiring.
• Email marketing (spray and pray) to attract new prospects and nurture and educate existing customers.
• Influencer marketing to reach new communities or co-create content like podcasts, videos and Webinars.
So, what does it mean for marketing consultants?
My take is that high-value engagements and retainers are not happening. They're too much of a commitment.
Instead, companies are leaning into marketing "snacks": projects that happen quickly and generate tangible results that move the needle and fill gaps.
It's things like:
• Marketing audits and optimization to discover what's not working and how to make improvements
• Mini-projects or sprints to tackle high-priority initiatives: launching a podcast, developing strategic plans for LinkedIn, Website refreshes (copy, CTAs), and down-and-dirty brand positioning updates.
For consultants, it's smaller engagements.
For companies, it's low-commitment marketing that delivers ROI.
As a marketing consultant since 2008, I know business is cyclical.
There are always up and downs.
However, The current landscape feels different, and consultants need to adapt to survive and thrive.