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At some point, many firms are going to feel compelled to bring in an outside expert to augment their digital marketing efforts. There are plenty of experts out there. However, a lot of smaller companies need to consider pricing, first and foremost. So, what exactly are you getting for your money?

Last week we discussed the differences between relying on an in-house marketing team versus hiring an outside consultant. Since we weighed the relative pros and cons of each approach, this week we will discuss the basics of pricing a digital marketing consultant, so you know what you’re paying for and what to plan on.

Basic facts about hiring a marketing consultant

The most basic fact about hiring a marketing consultant is this: you pay for skills and experience. The more years in the business and the more success stories a consultant has under their belt, the more they'll charge.

The second important fact about pricing is that projects will either by priced per hour, or by the project. Per-hour pricing is self-explanatory; if a digital marketing consultant prices per project, they calculate how many hours they anticipate the project will take and then multiply by their per-hour rate.

In hiring a marketing consultant, as in almost all other areas, you can expect to get what you pay for. Seemingly high premiums might motivate a company to want to cut corners, but a firm’s marketing efforts deserve attention and care.

The cost of a marketing consultant and their services

There are typically two kinds of digital marketing agencies: those who do marketing services, and those that provide both services and strategy. Digital marketing services include such things as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), web design, content marketing, reputation management, pay-per-click advertising, and a constellation of other individual services which will drive prospective customers to a website.

On the other hand, a company that does digital marketing strategy will craft a complete strategy for managing and expanding your firm’s online marketing efforts. This is a long-term project, which will obviously involves more labour time and strategising than a service-only project.

What should you expect to pay?

Consultants usually cost between 130€ and 180€ per hour, depending on experience and whether they are service-only or strategy. Younger companies may look at this price and think it’s too high, but these prices are standard for the industry, and it generally comes out to less than hiring an in-house employee.

On average, agencies who provide strategic advice charge two-thirds more than agencies who do purely services; the former is called a “marketing strategist” or “marketing consultant”. This means if you're looking for someone to educate you on building a marketing strategy (instead of an agency to implement a strategy already put in place by you or someone else), you'll need to expect to pay more.

More experienced consultants often have higher minimum project costs. However, if you take advantage of these, you could work out to paying less per hour for bigger projects. If your budget is larger, you might get better value out of a more experienced consultant who prefers bigger projects (even if, at first glance, they seem to charge more than the rookies). On the other hand, if your company is younger or smaller, you could get everything you need from a less-experienced consultant.

Tips for getting the best value

You should expect to pay more money per hour for a comprehensive digital marketing strategy because creating a good strategy has a higher pay-off than simply enacting marketing without a strategy. Many smaller firms looking purely at costs tend to make the mistake of forgetting this. So be sure you understand the bigger picture and what you're investing in before you sign the paperwork.

You can also expect that a consultant will almost definitely have more expertise than your in-house marketing team, because they've worked with a variety of clients in different circumstances. What's more, you or your in-house marketer can learn from a consultant, augmenting your own team’s efforts and contributing knowledge. This may be a good long-term investment, which will pay dividends in the future.

If you're in North America, consider hiring a consultant in Europe. The market in Europe tends to charge less per hour for the same level of expertise as a domestic consultant (even when factoring in the Euro/Dollar conversion).

If you're already in Europe, look there! You can often shop around by country, too, since rates will naturally vary. But don't forget, work with someone that knows your region and industry as tactics that work well in one area may be a complete no-go in another.

If you and your firm are still unsure of what a marketing consultant can provide and should cost, please feel free to contact us today! The process of bringing in an outside expert can look opaque and intimidating at first, but we are happy to demystify the process.

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