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How to become a marketing consultant and start a business

Jan 8, 2024 · 6 minutes to read

There is a tremendous opportunity for marketing pros in the United States. As of 2023, the nation is home to over 33 million small businesses1. Creating a successful marketing strategy is a talent that many business owners do not have, creating a demand for general and web marketing consultants.

Consultants, teamwork and collaboration in meeting for marketing agency, planning and startup project on laptop.

Starting your own digital marketing business could be a great way to help other small businesses grow. The services you provide can help them advertise themselves and find new customers. Here’s an overview of how to become a marketing consultant and start a digital marketing business.

What does a marketing consultant do?

A marketing consultant helps a business create a marketing strategy—a plan for developing a customer base who wants the products or services they are selling.

Marketing consultants may have knowledge and experience in different areas, from branding and SEO to social media influencing and online ads. However, many marketing consultants focus on a single niche. For example, a web marketing consultant advises businesses on how to promote themselves online through paid and organic strategies.

Small business consulting often means working with small budgets. Knowing how to work marketing magic with few resources is a skill you’ll likely need to develop!

What are the benefits of being a marketing consultant?

As a consultant, you will be in charge of your work and career. Being your own boss means selecting the clients you work with, setting your hours, and deciding how much you’ll charge for your services. This can give you a great amount of freedom and flexibility.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Marketing Specialists earned an average annual salary of $78,880 as of May 20222. However, how much you earn will depend on your expertise, experience, niche, and the clients you work with.

What education and skills does a marketing consultant need?

A degree is not required for marketing consultants. While you can complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in marketing, you can also gain the necessary skills and knowledge through work experience or free online resources.

Successful marketing consultants typically have skills such as:

  • Marketing know-how – Impress your clients with an understanding of the latest marketing trends to help them reach their goals.
  • Industry knowledge – If you work with businesses in a particular industry, understanding the ins and outs of that industry is essential.
  • Listening and communication – Good marketers actively listen to their clients and practice transparent communication to earn their trust.
  • Writing – Marketing consultants need both excellent professional and copywriting skills.
  • Creativity and problem solving – Delivering creative solutions is a large part of a marketing consultant’s job.

Getting marketing experience

Marketing skills and education are essential, but real-world experience is also important for aspiring marketing consultants. Working with skilled marketing professionals can help you gain additional knowledge and experience that you can’t get through education alone.

These early jobs can also help you build a professional network. The contacts you make—former bosses, colleagues, and other industry professionals—can become a source of referrals when you establish your digital marketing business. They may also provide you with valuable advice when setting up and running your business.

Starting a marketing consulting business

The process of setting up a business in the U.S. varies from state to state, but typically you will need to:

  • Write a business plan – This document helps you plan your operations, set goals, and measure your success. It can be helpful in making strategic decisions.
  • Choose a business structure – There are several business structures to choose from, but consultants who work alone are usually considered sole proprietors.
  • Get a business license and permits – A general business license and state or local permits may be necessary to establish a business in your state.
  • Establish business finances – Depending on your business structure, you may need separate business accounts. An Employer Identification Number from the IRS may also be required.
  • Market your business – You already know how to do this step! Start promoting your business and lining up new clients.

Protecting your business

Marketing consultants face many challenges when working with clients and running their businesses. You might consider different types of consulting insurance to help them manage the cost of these consulting risks.

Marketing consultants often consider coverage such as:

Professional Liability – A Professional Liability insurance policy (also known as Errors and Omissions or E&O insurance) is an essential policy that protects you and your company in case of a lawsuit due to alleged professional wrongdoing.
Businesses rely on you for marketing advice based on your expertise. But a client could sue if they feel your recommendations cost them money. Professional Liability insurance can help you manage legal fees and other expenses caused by professional wrongdoing claims and lawsuits.

General LiabilityGeneral Liability insurance protects businesses against the risk of customer injury and property damage.
As a marketing consultant, you may visit clients in their offices or meet with them in yours. Accidents can happen, and General Liability can help you manage unexpected bills if your business activities cause someone else injury or property damage.

Business Owner’s Policy – A Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) is a convenient and affordable way for small business owners to protect against several of their most common exposures. These policies combine General Liability insurance with other types of coverage, such as business interruption and business property damage.
A BOP is an easy way to manage multiple risks associated with your business property and operations.

Starting a marketing consulting business checklist

  • Complete a marketing degree or certification or gain the necessary skills and knowledge to become a web marketing consultant.
  • Gain hands-on experience by working for another company or interning with a skilled marketing professional.
  • Write a business plan and establish your digital marketing business.
  • Acquire licenses or permits required to run a business in your state (if applicable).
  • Establish business bank accounts, if required or desired.
  • Build your marketing strategy.
  • Consider marketing consulting insurance to protect your growing business.

Insurance for marketing consultants

Starting a digital marketing business could be a great way to put your expertise to use in the small business consulting world. With the hard work you’re putting in to create a successful marketing business, you may want consulting insurance to protect it.

BizInsure can help you find A-rated coverage to fit your needs and budget. Compare multiple quotes from insurers and save in minutes—Start today!

1. U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, Frequently Asked Questions About Small Business 2023, March 2023.
2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13-1161 Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists, accessed Dec. 13, 2023.
As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this guide is general only and should not be relied upon as advice. The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
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