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Marketing Mix—What Freelance Consultants Can Learn From MBB

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July 26, 2022
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7 minutes
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

You are a freelance consultant working hard to close new projects? All those cold emails, warm emails, phone calls, and LinkedIn messages can truly stress people out. Even small consulting firms often have to deal with a similar story—unpredictable revenue stream, no sick leaves nor employment benefits, clients who don't pay on time, and the list goes on. Additionally, on top of all of that comes the task of marketing your consulting services in order to keep new projects coming.

This is why today we will motivate you by discussing the marketing strategy of the Big Three and understanding how they keep their revenue high and clients happy. You might not have to compete with big firms to become a successful consultant. Still, you can use their strategies to have a successful career.

Today, we will shed some light on the marketing mix of top consulting firms. So, without further ado, let’s understand the 7 Ps of marketing from a consulting perspective.

1. Product

The first P of the marketing mix is product. This also includes services that companies sell to fulfill the needs or wants of their clients. Any goods or services that are sold in return for money can be included under the term ‘product’. So, whether one buys a bottle of water from a supermarket or hires a top consultant from a consulting firm, they’re purchasing a product at this moment.

How the big consulting firms do it

Consulting firms sell expertise. What type of expertise? In the following, a non-exhaustive list:

  • Digital transformation
  • Agile
  • Mergers and Acquisition
  • Operations consulting
  • Accounting services
  • Private equity
  • Sales and marketing
  • Strategy
  • Human resources
  • Risk management

All the aforementioned specializations take years of practice to perfect. Many companies don’t usually have internal resources who are as skilled, experienced and well-educated as the consultants working for the top consulting firms. Thus, the main product these consulting firms sell is expert advice, which is derived after weeks of data collection and analysis. Consultants use time-tested consulting frameworks and methods to find the best solutions for their clients’ problems—something for which the clients spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

2. Price

The next P of the marketing mix is price. This one doesn’t need much explanation. We all know that each product comes with a price. Nothing is for free. However, the price for a product must be set very strategically. Too expensive, and people won’t buy; too cheap, and customers will think that the product may be of inferior quality.

How the big consulting firms do it

Consultants of big consultant firms are highly paid, and people who hire them are ready to spend top dollar. Precisely speaking, it can cost millions to work with consultants from firms like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. However, there are several pricing plans that freelance consultants can use. Here are some examples:

  • Hourly rate: In this plan, billable hours are charged by consultants. Depending on the consultant's experience and seniority, this could range from $500 to $2000 an hour.
  • Project-based fee: A one-time fee is charged for the entire project. This means that consultants and clients agree upon certain deliverables, goals, and timelines and decide the cost.
  • Retainer model: This is a monthly fee that consultants can charge for providing services on a regular basis.
  • Base + commission: This is a return-on-investment-based fee structure in which the client pays the consulting firm a base fee plus commissions. For example, if consultants help a client generate $100 million in profit, they could charge $1 million as commission.


  • The 7 Ps of marketing are as follows: product, price, promotion, place, people, process, and physical evidence.
  • The main product of consulting firms is expert advice in the fields of digital, strategy, operations, human resources, M & A, etc.
  • Big consulting firms charge a premium price, and an engagement with them could cost millions.
  • When it comes to promotion and advertisements, top consulting firms don’t need much because they’re insanely successful already. However, they maintain public relations through the media.
  • Freelance consultants cannot fully imitate the marketing strategy of big consultancies. However, they can still learn a lot from their strategy and grow their business.

3. Place

Place makes up the third element of the marketing mix. As the name suggests, it refers to the place from which business is conducted. Particularly, it’s the location at which a business offers products to the customer. For instance, if you pay a monthly fee for a gym, then the place of business is the gym. And if you buy an air conditioner online, then the place of business is the website from which you order that product. Yes, places of business can be virtual too!

How the big consulting firms do it

McKinsey & Company: Part of the Big Three, McKinsey & Co. has offices in over 130 cities in 65 countries in the world. The biggest office is in New York and is spread over 200,000 square feet and takes up four floors.

Bain & Company: The firm’s presence is far less spread as compared to McKinsey with 65 offices in 40 countries. The headquarters of Bain & Co. is located in Boston, Massachusetts, and has been popular as one of the best places to work globally.

BCG: Also a part of the Big Three, the Boston Consulting Group has more than 90 offices in 50 different countries. BCG’s New York office extends up to six floors and has an open plan.

Certainly, the size and grandeur of places from which consulting firms operate signifies power and authority—of which these firms have plenty. Consulting is one of the few industries in which the place of business is really important. One cannot operate from an average office in a small town and expect businesses to pay $1000 an hour. Thus, huge offices in high-rise buildings are also part of the marketing strategy of these firms.

4. Promotion

You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, then what’s the benefit? Most people think that marketing strategy is just about promotion and advertising. However, if you’ve read this article so far, you already know that other aspects like product, place, and price are equally significant. Nevertheless, let’s discuss what promotion looks like in big consulting firms.

How the big consulting firms do it

Honestly, big consulting firms don’t need to worry much about promotion. These firms have been in existence for decades and are still generating billions. However, to keep up with the current trends, all big consulting firms hold social media presence, for instance, on YouTube, Facebook, and of course, LinkedIn.

Of all social platforms, LinkedIn is a very important promotion tool due to its professional nature. Consulting firms share job openings on their LinkedIn page, stay connected with their clients and aspiring consultants, and benefit from current employees sharing positive experiences on the platform.

Besides that, the firms also maintain a public presence through print media and have articles published routinely in big publications in order to maintain public relations.

5. The Last 3 Ps of Marketing Mix: People, Process, and Physical Evidence

When it comes to people, as we all know, top consulting firms only hire the best of the best. There is a fit interview and a case interview, and a lot of applicants won’t make it to the final rounds. However, the ones who do make it play a significant role in not just helping clients reach their goals, but also in shaping the world. The consultants who are employed by top firms have to be competitive to get ahead, as these firms have a strict hierarchy. This aspect of the marketing mix is especially important since the people working at a company ultimately determine the success or failure of a firm.

Let’s talk about the next P of the marketing mix: process. Since consultants are some of the smartest people in the world, big consulting firms have well-organized processes and impeccable operational efficiency. From the hiring process to client projects, processes and procedures are set and followed worldwide. For instance, Bain & Co. has a 12-week engagement with clients in which consultants gather data, conduct quantitative and/or qualitative analysis, and present recommendations.

And finally, physical evidence is the last P of the marketing mix. It signifies the proof of purchase, for example, a beautiful look after coming out of a salon, comfortable room temperature after buying a new heater, or a 300% profit increase after engaging with a consulting firm. Consulting firms have numerous case studies on their websites that mention how they transformed their clients' companies. Whether it’s the digital transformation of a traditional corporation or sustainable waste management in big cities. Consulting firms can provide massive value to their clients, and the proof lies in the physical evidence of their deeds.

Final Thoughts

Although it may not be possible for freelance consultants or small consultancies to have offices on the 100th floor of a New York building, they can certainly offer services in the same sectors as big consulting firms. When it comes to price, it may be modest as compared to what big firms charge. But in fact this can be used as a competitive advantage, and you can still earn a lot of money if you know what you are doing.

Here at Consultport, we connect high-paying clients with qualified freelance consultants. Like big firms, we also choose the best of the best. Thus, if you’ve worked with big consulting firms or blue-chip companies in the past, shoot us an email, and we’ll find you some of the most exciting freelance projects in the world.

Make us part of your marketing strategy and let us help you expand—get in touch now!