Many financial firms are looking for a marketing adviser or consultant who can help take their business to its next stage of growth and business goals. Yet what kind of qualities, skills and experience should you be looking for?
After all, anyone can call themselves a “marketing adviser” (unlike accountants and financial advisers, for instance, who in the UK must first pass a set of exams and qualifications to earn the label). Just take a look on People Per Hour, Fiverr or, indeed, your inbox and you’ll find all kinds of people professing to be able to “transform” your marketing.
Marketing is a crucial business function and it hugely affects your trajectory. In this article, our team here at MarketingAdviser offers some suggestions on what to look for in a marketing adviser – with a specific focus on financial firms (our target market).
Although there is no official exam in the UK which you must first pass to earn the title “marketing adviser” or “marketing consultant”, there are some great qualifications to look out for.
One of the most recognised warning bodies for marketing in the UK, for instance, is the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Recruiters will often look for a CIM qualifications on a marketing professional’s LinkedIn profile when finding strong candidates for a client’s newly-advertised marketing role. There are different levels of CIM qualification, but if your marketing adviser holds any of them that’s usually a very good sign.
Our head of marketing here at MarketingAdviser, for example, holds the level 6 qualification (CIM awards cannot be given to agencies). Another promising qualification for financial firms to consider is the Mini MBA in Marketing, by Marketing Week.
Other strong qualifications include those offered by Google. Here at our agency, for instance, many of our team have passed the Google Ads certification and the Advanced Google Analytics.
#2 Industry experience
In certain niches, it may be too much to ask that a marketing adviser has built a career in marketing for your specific type of company. Yet it is certainly reasonable to consider an adviser with experience in your business sphere, wider sector or industry.
You may struggle to find a marketing adviser dedicated to the EIS/SEIS space, for instance (although we have that experience here at MarketingAdviser!). However, if you’re a financial firm then it makes complete sense to seek a financial marketing specialist.
You do need to be careful, however. Just because a marketing agency claims to specialise in your sector does not mean they will naturally be a good marketing adviser in your case.
In the financial sector, for instance, there are small, locally-focused financial planning firms on the one hand, and large multinational banks and corporations on the other. A signal marketing agency is unlikely to be set up to serve the vastly different needs of these two types of business, even if they do occupy the same broad sector.
Here at MarketingAdviser, for example, we’re a smaller team and our experience lies predominantly in the financial planning sphere. This means that we’re usually in a better position to help with the marketing legwork needed from these types of firms, rather than doing the heavy lifting required by a multinational in a big marketing project (although we have helped such firms in the past).
Of course, a marketing adviser can have a promising CV and qualifications. Yet the key question that really matters is: “What kind of results have you achieved in the past for businesses like mine?”
It isn’t rude or improper to ask this question. After all, if the marketing adviser can do what they profess to be able to, then it shouldn’t be hard for them to produce evidence for you to look at.
Clients of financial advisers/planners typically want to see a similar track record before they commit to working with them. This helps everyone involved, since the financial professional has a chance to impress the prospect and the latter can be reassured by proof of their wealth management skills.
Whilst it’s OK to ask for some case studies from your marketing adviser, be aware that they may not be able to share specific client names due to confidentiality reasons.
If you’re going to work with a marketing adviser who specialises in SEO (search engine optimisation), then you will probably not want to work with someone who has little awareness of recent updates to the Google algorithm.
If you’re interested in working with an email marketing specialist, then you’ll likely be reassured if they can demonstrate strong knowledge of the different platforms available (e.g. MailChimp) and how best to use them.
For a marketing strategist, it will be a good sign if they can express to you the key differences between marketing strategy and tactics, and how different approaches to the former might apply to you.
In other words, it’s a good idea to seek a marketing adviser with relevant, applicable knowledge.
#5 Walking the Talk
If you’re a financial planner, would you expect a client to work with you if they knew that your own financial decisions were terrible? The same logic applies to a marketing adviser.
For a specialist in SEO, for instance, is their own website ranking high in search engine results or is it nowhere to be found? For a “social media guru”, is their own following and social engagement lacking, or are they clearly showing their competence through their own social profiles?
Again, it’s important to have realistic expectations here. You do not need to confine yourself to online working with a social media expert who is always “going viral”, for instance. These professionals are quite rare and expensive.
Rather, for a smaller business seeking help with their social media, it may be more appropriate to find a marketing adviser who has shown strong success with growing their own social following and lead generation. If they can achieve that for themselves, they’re more likely to help you achieve that too.