102 Tips to Becoming a Better Marketing Consultant

Aimed at anyone looking to boost their career, I have noted down 102 tips, hints or lessons that have helped me become a better marketing consultant. SEO leaders from across the industry have also added their top tips too.

Brendan Gilbert
Brendan Gilbert
September 10, 2023

Marketing and consultancy go hand in hand. I firmly believe that to be a better marketer, you need to be a better consultant, and vice versa.

In my rollercoaster 15-year career, I’ve struggled with low confidence and have gone from looking for a career change to leading one of the best SEO teams in the UK, to co-founding a new growth marketing agency.

I’ve been frustrated, tried to learn everything there is to know about SEO and marketing, applied for role changes or found myself going through the motions and merely trundling along with life. I was in a rut and didn’t know where to turn.

I’ve seen this happen to other SEO executives and consultants too, where sometimes we can find it difficult to know what to work on, what to change and what to learn to get you that next step in your career progression, pay rises or industry recognition.

So, in an effort to share my learned knowledge (1 of the tips below!), I’ve noted down 102 lessons I’ve received over the course of my career.

I say lessons, but these are also as simple as notes, tips, thoughts, hints and ideas. Little notes that may resonate with you in your marketing journey. The tips are in no particular order, but I’ve tried to group them into broad sections

Why share these tips?

I was really struggling at a low point in my marketing career and I was in my annual review meeting. I was moaning about this, that and everything as I knew I wasn’t getting a pay rise (deservedly so by the way).

One of these lessons was delivered that helped click the cogs of my brain in place and open up my mindset to positive change.

One of my managers said five words that just helped everything click and from that day my mindset changed and the trajectory of my career flipped.

I called it my ‘lightbulb moment’ and encourage anyone struggling with their work to keep searching for their own ‘lightbulb moment’. Hopefully the lessons below help you find yours. 


  1. Communicate regularly - if you are unsure how regularly, over communicate. Clients will tell you if it's too much. Communication breeds trust.
  2. Context is everything. Also ask yourself if you’ve provided enough context to stakeholders when you deliver any piece of work. If you hand over a piece of work to an account manager, list out 2-3 of the top findings. It makes everyone’s job easier, and ensures the work is presented how you, the expert, want it presented. 
  3. Sometimes, just pick up a phone and chat to your client. It gets things done quickly and reduces friction in your work.
  4. Seek face to face meetings at least every 3-6 months - even go and work at your client's office once in a while.
  5. Ensure emails are not too long but keeping it focused on one main point or topic.
  6. Don't ramble when talking, get to the point
  7. Listen twice as much as you talk as a golden rule - let your clients talk as you’ll learn far more from them.
  8. Always provide or ask for a meeting agenda.
  9. Once you have an agenda, ask if you need to be in a meeting - if it's not useful, find a better way to get the information.
  10. Consider meeting lengths - try 20 or 40 minutes instead of default 30 or hour long meetings
  11. Be early to meetings and be prepared - it builds trust with stakeholders and shows respect.
  12. Aim to contribute an idea in every meeting you attend
  13. Always follow up after a meeting with notes
  14. Further to tip 2 Make sure you get the chance to present your work, Never send over a piece of work to clients via email only - request a call to introduce the work or record a video explainer that shows the client how to use the document and explains the why behind the work. 
  15. Provide a summary when sending anything to any stakeholder.
  16. Never complete a task without informing stakeholders
  17. Shout about the good things, and own the bad
  18. Don't call stakeholders 'mate' when you first meet them - maintain professionalism as 1st impressions count. Wow, did I learn this the hard way!
  19. Follow hierarchy - well run businesses have hierarchy for a reason, mainly to speed up more effective communications to and from leaders.


  1. Organise yourself in whichever way works for you
  2. More better quality work done naturally leads to faster progression but that doesn't mean you have to work all hours (Work smarter, not harder)
  3. Under promise, over deliver
  4. Learn to manage stakeholder expectations
  5. Chase answers from stakeholders when needed to keep projects on track. 
  6. Ensure your stick to committed deadlines or raise flags early. Missed deadlines breaks down trust with stakeholders
  7. Agree a format for your task before you start

Training and Learning

  1. Seek feedback and give feedback often - it helps you understand how other perceive your work so you can adjust
  2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable  - say yes to things that scare you. That's how you grow
  3. Recognise and understand on the job training is vitally important to your progression
  4. Your PDP is not a tick box exercise - don’t limit yourself to what’s prescribed. 
  5. Knowing how to research and find information is a crucial skill of a great marketer.
  6. Go to conferences and meet-ups, join slack communities
  7. You don't need to know every minute detail of SEO - no one does. You need to know the fundamentals and …
  8. Learn the fundamentals of other marketing channels and how their use could help your channel efforts
  9. When asking questions, always provide your suggested answer/solution
  10. Find a mentor - learn from someone who has been there and got the t-shirt
  11. Share your knowledge as it's a great way to show yourself what you’ve learned 
  12. Always, always keep learning
  13. Learn to take feedback well

Strategy & Consultancy

  1. Always strive to do what's right for your clients. 
  2. There are many ways to solve SEO issues
  3. Learn to trust your own experiences over what a tool tells you. Use critical thinking to evaluate the outputs
  4. If you can't answer "why are you doing this task", don't do it
  5. Understand the difference between strategy and tactics
  6. Use different SEO tools - don't align yourself to just one and understand how they work
  7. The simple solution wins more often
  8. Have a test and learn mindset. Especially on large sites, don't implement wholesale changes without testing batches first
  9. What works for one website / client won't always work for another. Treat each client individually
  10. You need to learn about the industry landscape for each of your clients
  11. Optimise for your audience, not for search engines
  12. Know your target audiences inside out
  13. Marketing and sales are one and the same - learn how sales work and how your marketing efforts can contribute to sales success.

Relationship building

  1. Treat people how you would want to be treated
  2. Seek to develop deeper and broader relationships with your clients, their teams and their bosses.
  3. Understand the pressures your clients are under at their work
  4. If you have a focus area to work on - seek an expert in the area
  5. Nurture your connections - you never know when your paths will cross again, or if you may need that person’s help. 
  6. Talk to different people and ensure you get a range of viewpoints.


  1. Understand how to read between the lines of data - what's the story behind the data
  2. When reporting give insights, don't just describe what's happened
  3. Learn and understand the business important metrics of your clients - if you can report change with those metrics, your client will be far happier
  4. Knowing analytics and Google Search Console is vital


  1. Put your team first. Learn to harness the power of teamwork as a problem shared is a problem halved.
  2. Teamwork, Teamwork, Teamwork! If you took one thing from this list: focus on your collaboration skills. Learn that team success is a shortcut to individual success. 
  3. Always present opportunities for growing your clients business - you are an extension of their marketing team
  4. Get your work sense checked before sending it to the recipient - simple typos or mistakes happen but can sow seeds of doubt. To this day, I still get colleagues to read client emails.
  5. All stakeholders are important, but your account managers / client services team are crucial to your success. Ensure you set them up for success

Essential skills

  1. Be honest - it's a lot easier to manage and helps you maintain trust, even when things aren’t going brilliantly. 
  2. Be empathic - put yourself in the shoes of your clients or colleagues and learn to take their thoughts, opinions and feelings into account. 
  3. Use your initiative. Winners use their initiative. If you don’t know something, go learn it yourself, see if something needs to be done, go do it. See an issue, make sure you flag it. 
  4. Be ambitious. Learn what your drivers are and what you want from the job. Drive and ambition are a signal of someone ready to push for success. 
  5. Be creative - create work and ideas that make teams go wow!
  6. Be consistent. Consistent small incremental improvements is far better than boom and bust work.
  7. Don’t be afraid to take risks - but ensure you calculate the risk first
  8. Learn to say no to tasks that aren’t going to provide impact 
  9. Learn when to say yes to opportunities for you to expand your skill sets and show off your value
  10. Be proactive, not reactive
  11. Don't be afraid to disagree with stakeholders, if you believe in another way - just make sure you can justify your viewpoint
  12. The small things matter - sweat the small stuff! Imagine any meeting or email could change the course of your career. “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”
  13. Be flexible and embrace change - it's never as bad as you imagine it will be.
  14. Some lessons are only taught through experience so be patient
  15. Nail your briefs: better briefs = better work. Your colleagues will appreciate your efforts to help them so will naturally produce work that is better aligned to your expectations. This is a win-win for all parties involved.
  16. Control your emotions. If a task, response or feedback annoys or stresses you out, reflect on it first for at least a few hours


  1. You don't have to be in a leadership position to be a leader
  2. Understand and embrace your career is not a linear path to success
  3. If a piece of work has your name on it, ensure you are proud of the work.
  4. Take accountability for your actions. Don’t deflect or blame others, focus on you and what you can do better.

Career development

  1. Don't be afraid to make mistakes - mistakes are fine as long as you learn from them.
  2. You are not alone if you have Imposter Syndrome, it affects more people than you think. 
  3. Confidence is key. Have confidence in your ability and stakeholders will have confidence in your work. I wrote more on the issue of underconfidence in the SEO industry, in my previous post. 
  4. Make a note of your short, medium and long-term career goals. Put a timeframe to your goals, which provides focus.
  5. Your reputation is important. Happy clients become your best lead generators
  6. Understand your value to the business - if you don’t understand that, neither will the business you work for. 
  7. You only gain respect if you give it first. Respect is something that is earned, not given.
  8. Age means nothing, progression is not a race
  9. Never compare yourself to others - you are on your own journey with your own unique skills and challenges. 
  10. Build your personal brand. ‘Brand you’ is the most valuable asset you’ll have in your career
  11. Set your own boundaries and respect others. Never force others to work like you do, and push back when others try to do the same.
  12. Take your holiday - relax, use the time to reflect or completely forget about work. It helps you refresh and evaluate your job and career. If you dread coming back to work after a holiday, something needs to change. So you need to… 
  13. Enjoy it - you don't have to be passionate about SEO or marketing to be successful, but you have to enjoy it. When you enjoy what you do, it shows.

Personal Favourite lessons

This is the tip that gave me my ‘lightbulb moment’;

  1. "Learn to play the game" Business is a game - you need to learn how to make it work for you
  2. A TwelveTwentyFive favourite - “Swing your Swing”. Our take on "You do you" which is also one of the best pieces of advice for anyone. Be proud of who you are and what you do and always hold your head up high.

Those were some tips from me - I say me when actually all of them are lessons I’ve learnt from colleagues, friends, clients or strangers. Sometimes all it takes is five little words for a career to take off.

In an effort to make this even more useful, I’ve asked experts in the industry for their top tips too. Below are all of the contributions I received. Thank you to everyone who contributed. Thanks also to Areej AbuAli and Aleyda Solis for sharing with their networks.

Industry Contributions

"Approach everything with curiosity. Help your customers and clients find the best solution to their challenges by having a curious mind. Be analytical, ask questions, dig deep and do the work to uncover the best possible answers.” Tasmin Lofthouse, Copywriter & Content Strategist, Fika Digital

"Understand your clients objectives - My advice would be to make sure that you tailor your strategy to the businesses goals and objectives. Work with your clients to understand what's important to them, what's going to make a difference and work backwards from there.

How do I do that? - If the goal is to increase Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) identify what the target figure is, and reverse engineer the numbers to understand truly what your KPIs need to be. This will help you identify the number of conversions needed, CTRs and traffic."
Dan Brooks, SEO Consultant, Blush

"Consultants (in any field) are only as good as the recommendations they make and the client actually implements. Good consultants understand that their success doesn't just depend on coming up with an answer, they need to give the client the structure and support to ensure implementation. In any engagement, you should always be thinking about the how, who and when, not just the what and why. 

I'd also say from experience that good consultants have a high level of EQ - they are adept in navigating organisational politics, difficult characters and understanding the motivation behind organisational behaviour. If you want to level up - doing some reading around organisational and individual psychology isn't a bad place to start. "
Bethan Vincent, Managing Partner, Open Velocity

“Learn the clients processes and gates as soon as you can, and get introduced to legal or regulatory teams. Also recognise that very few, if any, hills are worth dying on without an attempt at compromise.”
Amanda King, SEO consultant, Floq

"1. Always be super clear on what you're offering. 

2. Before jumping on call with your first lead, ask yourself if you have processes for how to communicate, close deal, how to make contracts, and everything else.

3. There are times when leads will try to negotiate a lot and try to control things, know that you're in charge and try to avoid red flags like these. 

4. Rather than chasing a lot of clients, try to give a good experience to your existing clients. Many times, these existing clients will refer you to their network."
Preeti Gupta
, Founder and SEO, Packted

"You can expand your expertise in SEO daily at work, but to truly stand out, avoid fixating solely on SEO. 

Broaden your marketing horizons, build your own website, and venture beyond SEO into areas like digital PR and social. Transform blog content into TikToks, experiment with small paid campaigns, and seek advice from experts in various departments. 

Remember, SEO and marketing evolve constantly—there's always room for growth and learning"
Ray Saddiq
, SEO & Website Manager, Monzo

“When I consult, I follow the same pattern: tailor strategies to each client's unique goals, provide clear recommendations and be open about methods to foster trust. From there, I use metrics important to the client to demonstrate effectiveness, balance creativity with strategy to meet their objectives and offer additional insights or follow-ups to show commitment to success.”
Melissa Popp, Content Strategy Director, RicketyRoo

“Do a self assessment of your soft skills and work on improving those where you are weak. Most successful digital marketing involves people persuasion, and the better you get at reading and understanding the people you work with and communicating to them in a way that they will hear and absorb, the more successful you will be. A mentor is a great way to get started. Other ideas are on my podcast: https://wostrategies.com/series/digital-marketing-victories/
Katherine Watier Ong, Owner, Chief Strategist, WO Strategies LLC

“It's easy to get caught up in numbers, tools and revolutionary tactics. Before you ship anything, ask yourself: how does this benefit the answer-seeking human on the other side of the screen?”
Alizée Baudez, SEO Consultant, Freelance

"Be picky about choosing your clients: seek clients who amplify your strengths and allow you to showcase your talents. Assess the potential client thoroughly and remember that it's more than acceptable to decline an opportunity if you spot concerns.

Become a “go-to” person: Position yourself as an expert in your niche, ensuring that when challenges arise, others instinctively turn to you for guidance and solutions. By consistently delivering value and showcasing your expertise, you become the first name that comes to mind in your domain."
Veruska Anconitano
, Multilingual SEO & Globalization (i18n and L10n) Consultant

“1. The one thing that people miss time and time again is the importance of getting sh*t done. SEOs are like magpies, and we get distracted by the latest and greatest tools, drilling through data, and listening to 2 hour webinars that tell you what we already know but in different words. The best SEOs are the ones that can see through the noise and get on with doing the (often boring) work that makes a real impact.

2. It isn't just about getting work done - it's about impacting change. Knowing everything there is to know about SEO is one thing, but really understanding how people and businesses work is another. Spend time building up commercial awareness and understanding what makes your clients tick - that way, when you need them to help you push a change through you're more likely to be able to justify it, and get them on your side."
Matt Beswick, Co-founder, Blush.net & Aira

"Tip #1: At this point, most marketers are using the same strategies. Your advantage is how you can explain your worth to your client. Cut the acronyms and the jargon, and use words and phrases they can understand to show them that your work is levelling up to their business goals.

Tip #2: Be honest. Not every strategy or recommendation is going to knock it out of the park every time. Don't shy away from talking about failures with your client. In most cases they'll be much more impressed with your honesty and willingness to try new things versus just doing the same thing every month and expecting better results. "
Jessica Martinez
, Associate Director of SEO, Mad Fish Digital

"Deep Understanding: Master your industry and stay updated to provide valuable insights and solutions to clients.

Active Listening: Listen more than you speak to truly understand client needs and concerns.

Data-Driven: Base recommendations on data and results, not assumptions.

Adaptability: Stay flexible and open to new ideas, adapting strategies as needed.

Build Trust: Establish trust through honesty, transparency, and delivering on promises.

Continuous Learning: Stay curious and keep honing your skills to stay at the forefront of your field.

Results-Focused: Prioritise tangible outcomes and ROI to prove your value as a consultant."
Rewati Khare, Associate Director - SEO & Media Planning, Dentsu Creative India

"Here are my top 5 recommendations:

1. Base recommendations on solid data and analytics to show the real impact.

2. Tailor strategies to each client's unique industry, audience, and objectives. 

3. Conduct client surveys to understand their pain points, the value they look for from your products, and their culture. This helps you apply a more culturally sensitive consulting approach.

4. Consider the bigger picture – how various strategies interact together to impact results.

5. Stay updated on industry trends, technologies, and best practices."
Nadia Mojahed, SEO Consultant, SEO Transformer

"Write for people, not for search engines. Keyword optimisation doesn't matter if you don't satisfy the reader. Give the top of the funnel some love. Marketers tend to focus on BOFU, but it's useless without TOFU activity. 70/30% rule for TOFU vs BOFU expenditure."
Dav Nash, Founder, Latent Clarity

"Two main points from me:
1. Make room for other things in your life, regardless of the amount of work you may have. It's necessary to keep the stress levels down and ideas flowing into your brain. For example, go for a run or walk, talk to others outside of the industry.
2. Always assess your situation and possibilities to see if consulting is what you need. Don't feel you have to keep doing it."
Montserrat Cano,  International SEO & digital marketing, project management, MC. International SEO & Digital Marketing


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