It’s been more than 10 years (how time flies!) since I started working as a marketer. At first, I was a full-time employee tasked with the design and implementation of marketing strategies. Then, I went into freelancing and, later on, opened Idunn. In both capacities (freelancer and agency owner), I assumed a lot of roles, from marketing strategist to content writer and from social media expert to sales rep.

But marketing strategy was my first love and it is still the most enjoyable activity for me.

However, being both an employee and hired as an external marketing strategist has given me a unique perspective on these two roles. At first glance, you would be tempted to think that you only hire an external marketing strategist if you don’t need or don’t want to pay for a full-time Marketing Director.

But there’s more to this story.

Should You Hire an External Marketing Strategist or a Full-Time Marketing Director?

This is actually a non-issue. I’m bringing it up because I’ve seen a lot of business owners ask themselves this question.

An in-house CMO is extremely valuable. Whether you need such a person or not depends on the amount of work they have to do and the size of your business. Perhaps one person is enough for the job (and then you’d call that person a Marketing Specialist) or perhaps you need an entire department to run things.

Again, this depends a lot on your marketing budget and the number of channels you choose to spread it across.

Whether or not you hire an external marketing strategist or a consultant is a totally different and un-related thing. An external consultant can be complementary to your department. They can also be your go-to for all things strategy-related if your company is very small or in its infancy.

For instance, I created marketing strategies for companies who wanted to expand internationally. They also had large marketing departments, but no employees with international experience.

I also helped start-ups get a better sense of where they were heading. I worked with one-person shows or two or three founders who literally had no one else in their team. They wanted an expert’s opinion on how to tackle marketing before and after their launch.

Could the latter type of company have hired a Marketing Director? Of course! And some of my clients even did as soon as they opened for business. But, in the early stages, all they needed was a consultant. For some, I continued to work alongside their CMO, too.

Now let’s see how an external marketing strategist can help a CMO or a business without a marketing department.

4 Reasons to Hire an External Marketing Strategist

Since the beginning of my career in the field, I worked with more than 300 brands. Not always as a marketer, of course. However, irrespective of how long or how little we worked together, I got to understand their marketing approach.

Based on that and on my experiences as both an internal and an external marketing strategist, I can tell where the latter can make a significant difference.

  1. An External Marketing Strategist Brings a Fresh Perspective

No matter how great your marketing department is, a fresh pair of seasoned eyes is always good to have around. When I was a Marketing Director for various companies, my favorite spell of time was when I had to train a new employee in my department.

Aside from the obvious joy of having more help, I was also delighted to see their approach on things. I always encouraged them to give me an honest feedback about what we had been doing so far.

And every single time I learned something valuable from that feedback. Even when the new addition to the team was an intern or a junior at his first job.

Imagine what happens when a seasoned marketing strategist joins your team, even for a brief spell. They have the necessary experience and training to spot flaws and opportunities for growth in a split second.

  1. An External Consultant Is Honest

I’m sure that your employees feel safe about giving you bad news. And maybe even about criticizing some of your (or your CMO’s) ideas.

Still, they have to think about job safety, too. So they’ll never be as blunt as an external contractor.

An external marketing strategist is actually paid to point out mistakes. Would you trust them if they said: “You’re doing great, keep at it!” and then charged you $5000? Of course not!

This is why they will always strive to bring something new to the party. And they will be unapologetic about it.

When I worked with clients who also had a marketing department, I sometimes got to meet the whole team. Some of the in-house marketers told me they were grateful for my suggestions: they didn’t have the heart to tell their boss that a logo created 20 years ago was long overdue for a change.

But I did. And the company owner listened to my suggestion because of my experience and my successful track record.

Which brings me to the next point on the agenda:

  1. An External Marketing Consultant Has more Experience

Maybe they don’t have more experience than your whole marketing department combined. Maybe not even more than your CMO in terms of absolute numbers.

But, unlike your employees, who have been working for you or another company for years, external marketing consultants have certainly dealt with maybe tens of companies in the past few years alone.

Being around the block so many times gives you a unique insight, especially on markets that you are familiar with. In recent years, I have been hired as an external marketing consultant by numerous SaaS companies and tech companies in general). Me and my team have also worked on social media, crowdfunding or copywriting gigs.

Do you know what this did for me?

Right now, I can tell within 10 minutes whether a tech startups is going to be successful or not. And I know whether your crowdfunding project is going to fail irrespective of how much you invest in promoting it and whether your company is going to make it past the start-up stage.

Is this a harsh way to put it?

Yes, it is! But it’s an external consultant’s job. Well, the most important part of it. When you recognize this (and make the client recognize it, too), your next task is reversing the failure process. If that’s not possible, a good marketing strategist will at least advise the client to stop spending money on something that will never yield an ROI.


  1. An External Consultant Can Spot new Opportunities Easier

I’ve seen it happen to me when I was employed for years in a single company. You get so entrenched in your “old ways” that you lose sight of up and coming trends. As a consequence, you also lose massive opportunities.

This doesn’t make Marketing Directors obsolete or bad at their job. It just means that they need external help.

No matter how open you typically are at new ideas (and all good marketers should be!), it’s easy to get comfy and push your limits. It’s human nature.

When you hire an external marketing strategist, though, you know this is not going to happen. They won’t have time to get comfy with your brand. They’ll always be on edge, fearless and ready to take a novel approach, as well as calculated risks.


Want to hire an external marketing strategist that will do wonders for your company? We can revive your brand, boost your ROI and help build your business as a leader in its field.


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  • Doreen Nanyama

    Hi your article is well structured. I believe all the points applies even in other positions in the organization and not only for marketers.

    • Adriana

      That’s true, Doreen. You can hire almost any type of external consultants, not just marketers.

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