What Is a Marketing Consultant? + How To Become One

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what a marketing consultant does and the steps for pursuing this career path.

[Featured image] A marketing consultant wearing a blazer sits at a large table with a laptop and loose papers and reviews a website redesign for a client.

What is a marketing consultant?

A marketing consultant is someone who advises companies on how to reach consumers in a target market and convert them into paying customers. The marketing consultant role is similar to that of marketing coordinator and marketing manager, in that professionals in all three roles will likely need a degree in marketing or a related field, relevant experience, and key marketing skills

Even with these similarities, there are some important distinctions to keep in mind as you explore your marketing career potential:

  • A marketing coordinator is responsible for helping to coordinate a company’s marketing efforts, and can be responsible for conducting market research, creating content, and monitoring ad campaigns. Coordinators may report to a marketing manager.  

  • A marketing manager is often a leader within a marketing team, developing marketing plans and overseeing their implementation.   

  • A marketing consultant is often an outside party, hired by a company to advise on next steps. 

What does a marketing consultant do? 

Depending on a company’s needs, marketing consultants may take on the following responsibilities: 

  • Gather information and key metrics, including target market insights, website traffic, social media engagement, and more to evaluate the effectiveness of a company’s marketing efforts.

  • Train a company’s marketing team to carry out a new strategy.  

  • Monitor the results of a marketing strategy once it’s implemented and recommend ways to optimize it for better results.

  • Recommend new methods for reaching customers.

How to become a marketing consultant

Becoming a marketing consultant may be a good career for you if you are ready to build marketing expertise and advise businesses and individuals on how to market their brands effectively. Follow these steps to streamline your efforts:

1. Reflect on different employment scenarios.

Depending on your passions, interests, and career objectives, there are several employment scenarios that you might pursue. Reflect on the following examples to clarify what you want to achieve: 

Staff employment

  • Find a position with a marketing consulting agency, a company that actually offers marketing services to startups, small businesses, and large enterprises. In this scenario, you’ll be one of the consultants on staff, working independently or on a team to develop and execute marketing strategies for the agency’s clients. 

  • Find a position with a company that offers products and services unrelated to marketing. As the consultant (or one of several) on staff, you would likely deliver marketing solutions for your employer or its external customers.  

Freelancing or building your own business  

  • Help startups, small businesses, and large enterprises, on a temporary basis, to achieve their marketing needs. In this scenario, project size, contract duration, and tasks can vary, and you may take on multiple clients at once. 

Read more: 10 Steps to Starting a Business

Taking on freelance marketing consulting projects could be a rewarding alternative to long-term employment, or could set you up to find the job of your dreams. Be open to the range of possibilities available to you as your career evolves. Here are some examples of projects you might take on when helping other companies with their marketing efforts:

Setting up an customer relationship management system (CRM)

Creating social media accounts and building a following

Improving a website's copy and using SEO strategies to attract more traffic

Creating and executing an email marketing campaign

As you complete marketing consulting projects, be sure to add them to your resume, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile.


2. Consider earning a degree.

Earning a marketing degree can be a great asset on job applications or when gaining freelance clients. According to Zippia’s data from over 27,000 marketing consultant resumes, 75 percent of people in this role have a bachelor’s degree and 13 percent have a master’s degree. Common majors for marketing consultants include business (25 percent), marketing (21 percent), and communications (11 percent) [1]. 

As a marketing major, you’ll likely learn the theory and practice of this field, as well as foundational skills like conducting market research, analyzing consumer behavior, and developing marketing plans

Read more: Marketing Degree Requirements: Your 2022 Guide

3. Gain marketing experience.

Before getting a marketing consultant job or launching your own consulting brand, it’s important to gain experience solving real world marketing challenges. With experience comes authority that will be an asset in a consulting role, as companies and individuals look to you for guidance. Here are ways to gain experience: 

  • Look for freelancing opportunities and take on increasingly challenging projects.  

3. Build marketing skills in key areas.

At the same time that you acquire real-world experience, be sure to build marketing skills that are in demand. For example, skills that appear most frequently on marketing consultant resumes, according to Zippia, include customer service (11.6%), web content (9.9%), media sales (9.6%), digital marketing (8.4%), marketing campaigns (6.1%), Salesforce marketing cloud (3.9%), and PowerPoint (3.8%) [2]. 

You might find it useful to specialize in a particular area of marketing. For example, you could present yourself as any of the following and potentially get the attention of employers or freelance clients who are looking for someone who can perform specific tasks: 

  • Digital marketing consultant (also referred to as web marketing consultant and internet marketing consultant) 

4. Update your resume and online presence.  

As you add more qualifications to your repertoire, update your resume and online presence to represent your qualifications. Here are some approaches you can take:

  • Post marketing projects you’ve completed to an online portfolio or website, especially projects in which you advised other businesses and entrepreneurs. Include a description of each project and the results you were able to deliver, along with testimonials you've gathered from satisfied clients. 

  • Post relevant content to your own social media accounts, especially material that showcases your ability to provide marketing advice. 

  • List all marketing experience on your resume, using action words to describe tasks and projects you completed and quantifying the results of your work. 

Read more: 10 Ways to Enhance Your Resume

5. Explore the marketing consultant career landscape. 

When you’re ready to take on a marketing consulting role, explore the career landscape to find opportunities that may be available to you, from job openings at different organizations to freelance gigs. For example, as of November 2023, you can find marketing consultant job openings in industries such as finance, real estate, health and medicine, media, insurance, and recruiting and staffing. 

Narrow down the opportunities you want to pursue based on your goals, the industries that you find most interesting, the marketing campaigns you’d most like to help companies launch, etc. Then, begin applying to positions or pitching potential freelance clients using your updated resume, portfolio, and other materials. 

Read more: 8 Common Marketing Interview Questions and Answers

Improve your marketing skills with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to explore your potential as a marketing consultant. Sharpen your skills in social media strategy, building online stores, measuring marketing performance, and more in Coursera’s Professional Certificate programs, offered by industry leaders such as Google and Meta:

Article sources


Zippia. “Marketing Consultant Education Requirements, https://www.zippia.com/marketing-consultant-jobs/education/.” Accessed November 22, 2023.

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