How Much Money Do Marketing Consultants Make?

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A career as a marketing consultant can be both challenging and rewarding. To be successful in the field, you must be comfortable with strategic planning, management, developing internal and external communications campaigns, and the digital side of marketing. Pay for marketing consultants can vary greatly and depends on a few factors, including industry, location, experience, and demonstratable skills.

What a Marketing Consultant Does

A marketing consultant works with businesses to assist in creating and implementing strategies for marketing, branding, and advertising that meets the needs of their customers.

The job requires someone who can be both creative and analytical since it's a balancing act between right brain and left brain activity. Basic tasks include strategy mapping, research, planning events, reviewing and implementing marketing initiatives, brand development, monitoring return on investment for marketing campaigns, and facilitating client marketing strategy meetings.

Marketing consultants often work as contractors or freelancers after leaving a corporate job. This type of work usually requires a good amount of experience in the field, but in some cases, people can work as a more low-level marketing consultant as a stepping stone in their career on their way to a corporate position. At the corporate level, the hierarchy is usually as follows:

  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Director
  • Senior Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Communications Manager
  • Vice President, Marketing

Calculating Pay Rates

Consulting fees can range anywhere from $20 an hour to $200 (or more) an hour depending on experience, the company you're working with and your knowledge of it, industry, location, and other factors. A reasonable way to determine your hourly rate is to use an "hours worked in the year" formula: Desired Salary ÷ Number of Hours Worked Per Year = Hourly Rate.

If you assume you’ll be working more or less full time with a couple of weeks off, you will end up with 40 hours a week for 50 weeks, or 2,000 hours per year. From here, it’s a simple matter of plugging in the numbers. Let's say you made $75,000 when you last worked full time, or you just believe you are worth $75,000 based on experience and what you have to offer. In that case, the formula would like this: $75,000 ÷ 2,000 hours = $37.50/hour.

Clients may also wish to pay you per project. If you're unsure how much to charge per project, then it's a good idea to start by settling on your hourly rate, determining the number of hours you'll need to commit, and then multiplying that time by your hourly rate.  

Other Rate Considerations

Those with a specialty in a particular field and knowledge about the client's business can and should charge more. For comparison, the average base salary for marketing consultants in the United States was about $58,000 per year as of November 2018, according to PayScale. However, that salary varies greatly depending on the various factors listed above. The actual range is from about $32,000 to $102,000 per year as a base with an addition of anywhere from $500 to $20,000 in bonuses and profit sharing.