Finding the Best Marketing Consulting Firms

Marketing consultants are highly skilled in understanding what motivates consumers, how to target an audience, and what measures a business can put in place to more effectively reach their desired consumers.

There’s some level of interchangeability between a marketing consulting firm and an advertising firm. However, an advertising consultant or firm helps companies find innovative, creative ways to reach new potential customers and markets within the framework of one campaign or a short-term objective.

By contrast, a marketing consulting firm helps clients use analytics, technology, and data to explore the present state of their business and see how they can more effectively engage existing customers over the long term.

Additionally, a marketing consultant goes beyond simply advertising or public relations and instead takes a more holistic view of a business based on analytics and the development of strategic objectives.

Marketing consultants not only implement strategies; they will also measure the effectiveness of said strategies to refine marketing plans over time. This makes the top marketing strategy consulting firms into extremely valuable partnerships for any business in today’s economic landscape.

Award Emblem: Top 7 Best Marketing Consulting Firms (+ 1 to Avoid)

Top 7 Best Marketing Strategy Consulting Firms (+ 1 to Avoid) | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Best Marketing Strategy Firms

Highlighted Features


Bain & CompanySignature approach to customer-led growth


EquiBrand ConsultingUpstream marketing solutions


L.E.K. ConsultingIn-depth, client-based strategies


NielsenComprehensive “Total Audience” approach


ZS AssociatesExtensive slate of marketing solutions & services


CMGStrong set of marketing consultancy services


PwC DigitalGlobally-minded outreach & approach


NovantasLack of transparency & rewarding company culture


Table: Top 7 Best Marketing Consulting Firms (+1 to Avoid) | Above list is sorted by rating

When Do You Need to Hire Marketing Consulting Companies?

If a business is unfamiliar with the goals and practices of marketing strategy consulting firms, it can be difficult to know when to bring on the skills of a top marketing consultant.

There are any number of reasons you might opt to pair with marketing consulting companies:

Create a Plan

You need a plan that’s in line with your overall business goals. Many times, businesses will advertise without any clear strategy, which won’t optimize the return on an investment.

Employing the help of a top marketing consultant gives you a tactical foundation on which to build your public relations and advertising.

Save Valuable Time

If you’re running a small business, you may not have time to dedicate to marketing. It can be difficult to focus on marketing at all when you’re wearing so many other hats in your business.

In these instances, the help of one of the best marketing strategy consulting firms allows marketing consultants to step in and take the reins.

Innovative Techniques

Marketing consultants have a strong grasp on the trends, technology, and innovation needed to develop a successful strategy. As a result, marketing consultants may introduce you to new software, industry trends, or ideas.

Expert Strategies

One of the biggest problems businesses face in marketing is their desire to do everything at one time while not excelling at any of it. Marketing consultants can show you how to narrow your efforts but maximize the impact.

For example, maybe your strategy includes trying to use every social media channel.

A marketing consultant could provide you with expert data and research that will show you how to limit your social media marketing to perhaps just two or three platforms, saving you time and money while creating a greater impact. 

Improved Focus

Perhaps you have a strategy in place, but it isn’t working. Marketing is a rapidly evolving landscape; businesses that find their current strategy just isn’t getting the job done may feel it’s time to change strategies. That’s a very good time to partner with a marketing consulting firm.

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Selecting a Marketing Consulting Firm

When you’ve decided it’s time to utilize marketing consulting services, how do you choose the right firm? Selecting a marketing consulting firm is going to depend largely on your requirements, your budget and your expectations.

Many of the top marketing consulting firms have a few things in common:

  • A team of industry experts with many years’ experience in diverse areas
  • A strong reputation with clients
  • The ability to integrate traditional marketing knowledge and know-how with the newest and most cutting-edge technology
  • Professionals willing to think outside the box and do things in new and exciting ways

So, how do you select from the many marketing consultancy firms to find the one that is best for your needs? If you’re unfamiliar with evaluating marketing consultancy firms, a detailed review of leading marketing consultants is a good place to start.

In the sections below, we have highlighted some of the top strategy consulting firms to consider for help with marketing strategies, providing a guide for businesses to connect with the best marketing consultancy firms. 

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Detailed Review—Top-Ranking Best Marketing Consulting Firms  

Below, please find the detailed review of each firm on our list of top marketing consulting companies. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these top marketing consulting firms to score so high in our selection ranking.

Click on any of the names below to go directly to the review section for that firm.

Click below for previous years’ rankings:

Bain & Company Review

Bain & Company is an internationally recognized consulting firm focused on creating client results that deliver value. Bain strives to work across boundaries, utilize actionable insights, and help engage teams to maximize their success.

​Their customer strategy and marketing services focus on creating growth by uncovering and implementing the best ways to reach customers.

Bain approaches marketing consulting services through elements of expert experience, practicality, and economics.

The results of partnering with this marketing consultant are strategies that are not only sustainable over the long-term, but ones that truly drive growth organically.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Marketing Consultancy Firms

When examining the top marketing consulting firms, below are the factors which led us to rank Bain among the best marketing consulting firms.


With Bain, you can expect the following experience areas, which fall under the umbrella of marketing consulting:

  • Customer Insights & Segmentation: Bain’s consulting team takes a deep look at customer wants and behaviors using their signature approach, and then creates actionable segmentation.
  • Product & Category Management: Eliminate innovation barriers while increasing product development, all leading to a unique and customer-centric value proposition.
  • Pricing: Pricing is a significant challenge that Bain can help businesses solve.
  • Sales & Channel Effectiveness: Bain will partner with companies to look at customized solutions for the short-term, as well as identifying where strategic and long-term operational changes can be made.
  • Marketing & Brand Strategy: The goal of Bain’s marketing consulting services is to engage companies while aligning their marketing strategies with their larger business objectives.
  • Customer Experience: Customers require regular positive interactions, so Bain develops ways to ensure these interactions are occurring to drive growth.
  • Loyalty: Loyal customers are the key to maximizing profitability, and Bain works to nurture those potential loyal customers.
  • Go-to-Market Strategy: Working with Bain will allow you to develop robust go-to-market strategies, which will serve as that road between strategy and customer experience.

Signature Approach

Bain features a signature approach to their marketing strategy consulting, which is based on what they define as three building blocks of customer-led growth.

These three blocks include:

  • Designing a customer experience that’s unique and tailored to their needs. This is done by looking at the most important clients of a company and creating a value proposition that appeals to that segment.
  • Deliver on promises the client makes by making sure the customer experience is optimized at each and every touchpoint.
  • Reprogram their DNA to ensure customers and employees are always first. This helps Bain partner with clients to develop both short- and long-term strategies for growth.

In addition to this three-step approach, Bain & Company also created the signature NPS and Loyalty methods, which are proven ways to assess the health and value of customer relationships.

Rating Summary

Bain & Company maintains a strong focus on organic, customer-led growth, a fact which is reflected within each service area.

Additionally, their signature approach focuses on strengthening customer relationships and reprogramming company structure, two factors which support long-term, sustainable growth.

With a global presence and strategies built to sustain, Bain & Company is one of the 5-star marketing consultancy firms on our list.

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CMG Review

CMG is one of the most reputable marketing consulting firms, working with rapidly growing companies to deliver results since 1998.

Their focus lies in helping new industries and market developments receive the results they want and need by combining inventive thinking, collaboration in execution, and agility. 

As a top marketing consultant, CMG prides itself on having expertise and reputation while also being a company where unique ideas and personalities are crucial aspects of their approach to marketing consulting. 

CMG has marketing consultancy firms in Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and their headquarters in Durham, NC.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of CMG as One of the Top Marketing Consultancy Firms

When examining the top marketing consulting firms, below are the factors which led us to rank CMG among the best marketing consulting firms.


As one of the country’s top marketing consulting firms, CMG specializes in strategy, commercialization, transformation, and analytics/insight.

We’ll explore these marketing consulting services in detail below:


The aim of CMG’s strategy-based consulting services is to help clients find new ways to connect with customers. This could mean anything from designing a new brand position to looking at the client’s experience in new, more objective ways.

The strategy phase of CMG’s consulting services is where this marketing consulting firm unites insight, inventions, and plans to then drive marketing strategy forward.


As CMG specializes in working with dynamic and often new companies, commercialization is an important aspect of their marketing consulting services.

CMG partners with clients to bring products to market efficiently while simultaneously uncovering new streams of revenue.


Within this consulting service, CMG dives into working with marketing teams in a hands-on way to train them in the ultimate in marketing tactics.

They collaborate with teams to deliver their signature approaches to performance improvement while integrating concepts of flexible planning and collaboration. This is all done in the framework of measurable objectives, defined roles, and rapid learning.

Analytics and Insights

With this service, clients can benefit from a unique blend of marketers and analytics experts to discover core drivers of performance and gain valuable insights to support dynamic marketing growth.


The CMG approach seems simple, yet it has allowed them to work with Fortune 1000 companies and transform the way they see and do marketing.

This approach is defined as the following: “Think + Do + Move” equals the ability for clients to move not just forward but upward.

The following components also define the CMG strategy:

  • CMG fosters true partnerships with clients, and they work hands-on to implement the ideas and strategies they propose.
  • Serious thinking and insight, as well as interdisciplinary, groundbreaking research, are the foundation of everything at CMG.
  • CMG’s team pushes clients to realize their maximum potential while becoming more efficient and agile, all while utilizing the right tools and methodology.

Rating Summary

With a simple, yet effective approach, and a myriad of expert marketing consulting services, CMG is poised to remain a valuable marketing strategy consulting firm.

The only potential downfall that CMG may encounter is that, while their website is perfectly optimized for mobile use, the desktop version is difficult and confusing to navigate.

While their marketing consulting services are certainly strong enough for a 5-star rating, the firm ultimately receives a 3-star rating for potential accessibility issues that desktop users may encounter.

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EquiBrand Consulting Review

With 15 years of experience, EquiBrand Consulting combines an analytical approach with creativity to help businesses and brands become stronger.

Their approach involves collaboration, strategic marketing, practical application, and a customer-centric philosophy to help clients achieve marketing consulting success.

EquiBrand offers four areas of marketing consulting services: Growth and Innovation, Marketing Strategy, Brand Development, and Digital Marketing.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of EquiBrand Consulting as One of the Top Marketing Consultancy Firms

When examining the top marketing consulting firms, below are the factors which led us to rank EquiBrand among the best marketing consulting firms.

Upstream Marketing Solutions

Integral to EquiBrand’s approach is the process of identifying upstream market solutions, which is a complex and strategic process of finding and fulfilling customer needs at a much earlier stage than traditional marketing consulting firms.

Because upstream marketing occurs very early in the product or development cycle, many companies fail to generate the revenue growth that they should have.

Successful upstream marketing solutions will achieve three primary goals:

  • Insight—Achieving a competitive advantage through a deeper understanding of the customer base
  • Identity—Creating marketing strategies to optimize both the brand and the business
  • Innovation—Driving growth with strategy, process, and enablers

Impressive Range of Clients

While most of the marketing consulting firms on our list have offices around the globe and thousands of consultants, EquiBrand stands out as a boutique marketing consultancy.

Despite having an insular team and a singular location in the San Francisco/Bay area, EquiBrand has the track record and growing industry authority to rival the largest marketing consulting firms.

EquiBrand has worked with global corporations and start-ups alike, with some of their most notable clients including:

  • Acura
  • Chevron
  • Farmers Insurance
  • GAP
  • Honda
  • Intel
  • People Magazine

Rating Summary

Some boutique firms find themselves limited by their small size or geographical restrictions, but EquiBrand Consulting certainly seems to have no limitations.

With a long list of notable clients, a comprehensive marketing consulting approach, and a focus on achieving upstream marketing solutions, EquiBrand has earned a 5-star rating as one of the best marketing consulting firms to consider.

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L.E.K. Consulting Review

L.E.K Consulting is one of the top global marketing strategy consulting firms, with offices in not only the Americas but also Europe and Asia.

They advise clients on a range of strategy issues, bringing to the table deep industry knowledge and analytical expertise that leads to the making of value-producing informed decisions.

L.E.K. was founded in 1983 and now employs more than 1,200 top professionals at their worldwide offices. They specialize in providing marketing consulting to international companies.

Working with L.E.K.’s marketing and sales consulting team ensures clients will receive comprehensive insights to identify new opportunities for growth.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of L.E.K. as One of the Top Marketing Consultancy Firms

When examining the top marketing consulting firms, below are the factors which led us to rank L.E.K. among the best marketing consulting firms.


Services offered by L.E.K under the umbrella of marketing consulting include:

  • Sales & Channel Management: These services include market development, customer insights, profitability analysis, and portfolio optimization.
  • Loyalty & Customer Experience: This area of service is based on customer loyalty, design and delivery, value-based segmentation, and CRM programs.
  • Pricing: Clients working with L.E.K. can access services like pricing dynamics, framework and optimization, as well as yield management.
  • Brand Strategy: Under this service are brand management and portfolio optimization.
  • Sales and Channel Management: This includes channel strategy development, sales channel configuration, operations design, resource prioritization, and program implementation.


Every aspect of marketing consulting available from L.E.K. is focused on the creation of real results with a significant impact. 

L.E.K. starts by partnering with executives to gain an in-depth understanding of the challenges they’re facing. After gathering the most relevant information, L.E.K. marketing consultants design value-producing strategies.

Their approach combines the following essential components:

  • Evidence-based philosophy, as opposed to opinion
  • Best-in-class analytical capabilities
  • Real-world expertise
  • Strategic foresight

Rating Summary

With over 30 years in business, L.E.K. has a significant amount of experience with providing expert marketing consulting services.

Not only does the firm have a comprehensive range of services to choose from, but clients also benefit from an analytical, practical approach, positioning L.E.K. among 5-star marketing consulting firms.

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Nielsen Review

Nielsen is one of the most respected and well-known names in analytics and marketing. This top marketing consultant studies customers in more than 100 countries to understand audiences and trends on a global basis.

As one of the top marketing consulting firms, Nielsen provides highly scalable marketing consulting services to companies, whether they’re a single-location operation or a large enterprise operating around the world.

Key to their philosophy and approach to marketing consulting is a belief in innovation and the constant creation—and evolution—of solutions that meet the needs of the contemporary customer.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of Nielsen as One of the Top Marketing Consultancy Firms

When examining the top marketing consulting firms, below are the factors which led us to rank Nielsen among the best marketing consulting firms.

Awards & Recognition

Nielsen’s team of marketing consultant professionals has garnered the company numerous awards for firm culture and innovation within the marketing consulting industry, including:

  • Ranked by Forbes as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies
  • Recognized for their commitment to workplace diversity on DiversityInc’s Top 50 list in 2017
  • Named one of the best employers for millennials by Fortune and Great Place to Work in 2016
  • Named a top corporation for LGBT development in 2016
  • Number 22 ranking in CEO Magazine’s list of 2015’s Best Companies for Leaders
  • Appeared in the CIO Review as one of the top 20 “Most Promising CPG Technology Solution Providers” for 2015


As one of the world’s top marketing consulting firms, Nielsen offers a broad range of services. These marketing consulting services include (but are not limited to):

  • Advertising Effectiveness: This service area is designed to show clients what works and what doesn’t to ensure they get the best results possible.
  • Audience Segments: Audience measurement services are designed to deliver real insight into who’s watching what, regardless of when or what device they’re using.
  • Marketing ROI: This service relies on statistical analysis to look at past trends while predicting future effects.
  • Price & Portfolio Optimization: This service area creates a definitive path toward optimal price and trade promotion strategies.
  • Reputation Management: Nielsen delivers practical reputation measurement and management services to keep companies up-to-date on the pulse of how stakeholders view the organization.
  • Sales Effectiveness: Shopper services take account of the buyer’s journey and then deliver actionable insights allowing brands to grow.

“Total Audience” Approach

At the core of every marketing consulting service offered by Nielsen is a reliance on cutting edge data. This is their central focus area, named the “Total Audience” approach.

Nielsen has created standards for measurement unique to each service area, ranging from delivery through electronic channels to tools like in-home scanners that assess how shoppers are behaving on their shopping trips.

Another part of themulti-faceted Nielsen approach to marketing consulting are the use of more traditional data collection tools, such as surveys that demonstrate customer sentiment.

This approach is extremely comprehensive, covering every aspect of the media process, including planning, activation, ratings, and effectiveness.

Rating Summary

Aside from a range of industry awards and innovative marketing consulting services, what truly makes Nielson stand out is their multi-faceted, comprehensive approach.

Viewing each project with a “Total Audience” approach allows clients to benefit from multiple areas of marketing consulting, setting projects up for success and earning Nielson a 5-star rating among the best marketing consulting firms.

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Novantas Review

With a sole industry focus on financial services, Novantas is a boutique firm that offers a range of marketing consulting services.

Their focus areas include Pricing and Product, Marketing and Distribution, and Sales Management, catered specifically towards banks and financial institutions.

Although the firm has been rated highly by financial publications, in comparison to the other marketing consultancy firms on our list, Novantas falls short in a few significant ways.

See below for an in-depth overview of why Novantas has earned a 1 rating, and what the firm can do to improve for next year’s rankings.

What Novantas Can Do to Improve Their Ranking

Improve Transparency

There are many ways for marketing strategy consulting companies to promote transparency, but Novantas is missing a few key ones.

First, our review could not find any published case studies on their website. For potential and current clients, seeing examples of proven success is a great way to validate the value and legitimacy of a marketing consulting firm.

Case studies also promote transparency by providing clients an in-depth, detailed look into the firm’s process and methods of success. Unfortunately, this is an area in which Novantas appears to be lacking.

Second, there is no mention of the core values or philosophies that drive the marketing consulting process at Novantas. Partnering with a firm that operates on a clearly stated set of ethics is important, particularly when using boutique consulting services for the first time.

Publishing case studies and clearly stating an ethical foundation for the firm could drastically improve transparency.

Improve the Employee Experience

Many of the firms on our list of the top marketing consulting firms place a strong emphasis on employee satisfaction to increase client satisfaction.

While Novantas does encourage a supportive and enjoyable work environment, direct responses from employees paint a much different picture. Glassdoor shows a rating of 3.5, with only 46 percent of employees approving of the CEO.

Although this is not an entirely terrible rating, it is significantly lower than Glassdoor ratings from competing firms on our list. This suggests a drastic difference in corporate culture—and potentially in the overall client experience, as well.

A rewarding company culture for employees will also reward clients by enhancing a consultant’s effectiveness, and it appears that Novantas is falling short in this area.

By focusing on transparency and improving the company culture, Novantas could increase trust, showcase their unique value, and improve the overall consulting experience for both employees and clients.

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PwC Digital Services Review

PwC Digital Services is a marketing consulting firm that aims to help clients discover new success, innovation, and value. They have offices in 158 countries, over 236,000 employees, and have earned more than 500 awards.

PwC Digital is comprised of creative professionals who work to design and implement sophisticated strategies, as well as complete end-to-end digital solutions.

They look at not only technology but also trends, markets, and economies and rapidly respond to shifts. Marketing consulting services from PwC aim to:

  • Knowing your customer and the environment you operate in
  • Defining what success looks like to you
  • Innovation in your business
  • Creating new value
  • Acceleration through technology-driven change
  • Protection of your business from risks present in the digital economy

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of PwC Digital as One of the Top Marketing Consultancy Firms

When examining the top marketing consulting firms, below are the factors which led us to rank PwC Digital among the best marketing consulting firms.


If you partner with PwC, one of the world’s largest marketing strategy consulting firms, you’ll have access to the following services:

  • Innovation: This is the primary opportunity for businesses who want to grow their competitive and future success. When you pair with the marketing consultant team at PwC, you can develop innovative ideas and get to the market quickly.
  • Strategy: PwC’s team of experts works with client-partners to maximize business value through effective, actionable strategies.
  • Experience: This is the service area focused on creating the best possible user engagements.
  • Technology: PwC is one of the best marketing consulting firms in the world because they bring robust technology into the equation, ranging from architecture to continuous delivery. Technology solutions are scalable and work with the unique needs of the company they’re working with.
  • Insights: Creating marketing strategies that work depend on data. Everything PwC delivers is based on data; then, they show the best ways to take action on them. The goal of analytics gathering at PwC is to improve performance, uncover missed opportunities, and repair issues.
  • Advancing: This is the service area where PwC’s team finds ways to optimize marketing channels and boost performance.


While the approach of PwC’s marketing consulting team is completely varied based on each individual company and their unique situation, some elements of their strategy may include:

  • Finding ways to sell to new customer segments, stemming from a framework of the digital age
  • Moving from traditional to digital channels
  • Eliminating silos
  • Expansion into new markets while creating an improved B2B or B2C experience
  • Rethinking what CRM systems and apps are used for
  • Helping businesses tell their story on a global scale
  • Creating social campaigns that drive growth
  • Helping companies make data-driven decisions

Rating Summary

With origins in the nineteenth century, PwC is a staple in the industry, providing valuable marketing consulting services across the globe.

While the firm offers comprehensive service and detailed strategies for each client, PwC Digital Services ultimately falls into the same web-based difficulties as CMG.

Although the PwC Digital Services website is optimal for mobile users, the desktop version of the site is ultimately confusing and difficult to navigate, which could potentially discourage potential clients.

If the firm’s clientele largely uses mobile access, this may not be a disadvantage—but for our purposes, lack of accessibility brings PwC’s rating to 3 stars, rather than 5.

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ZS Associates Review

ZS Associates is one of the world’s largest firms that focuses only on helping companies grow their revenue and improve their performance with end-to-end marketing solutions, as well as sales solutions.

The firm employs more than 4,500 marketing and sales professionals, located in 22 offices around the world.

As a leader among marketing consulting firms for over 30 years, their philosophy has remained consistent, which is to find truths based on quantifiable facts to identify the best possible experience and innovation.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of ZS Associates as One of the Top Marketing Consultancy Firms

When examining the top marketing consulting firms, below are the factors which led us to rank ZS Associates among the best marketing consulting firms.


As one of the best marketing consulting firms, ZS Associates offers an extensive slate of services, including (but not limited to):

  • Business Process Improvement: These solutions aim to help companies streamline their sales and marketing operations.
  • Business Intelligence and Technology: This is about minimizing investments while simultaneously maximizing profits.
  • Customer Experience: Working with ZS, one of the top marketing consulting firms, will allow you to find ways to improve the customer experience and loyalty as well.
  • Customer Insights: Valuable customer insights can be used to improve marketing decisions based on data.
  • Customer Segmentation: Marketing strategies and executions are enabled through actionable customer segmentation.
  • Forecasting: ZS can combine technology and experience to identify market drivers and how they’ll influence clients’ future planning.
  • Marketing Performance Measurement and Optimization: Timely insights can improve marketing performance and effectiveness.
  • Value Proposition: Partnering with ZS can help clients develop appealing, compelling value propositions, based on the needs and preferences of customers.


Because ZS is one of the best marketing consulting firms, it’s valuable to look at the distinctive approach that sets them apart from other marketing consulting firms.

One of the most pivotal and impactful aspects of the ZS approach is a focus on problem solving. They like to break apart the areas of a business, assess them, and then, using science, technology, and hands-on expertise, put them back together in more effective and efficient ways.

Marketing consultants at ZS enjoy tackling the most challenging issues while simultaneously building a long-term, collaborative relationship with each client.

The ZS approach doesn’t operate in silos, and they don’t believe in the creation of unnecessary boundaries or walls. This means every team member is at the disposal of all clients, and all are working toward the shared goal of creating a positive impact.

Rating Summary

Clients of ZS benefit from an extensive slate of marketing consulting services, setting the firm apart from other marketing strategy consulting firms on our list.

With an energetic focus on tackling even the most complicated marketing challenges, ZS has earned a 5-star rating among the best marketing consulting firms in the country.

Conclusion—Top 6 Marketing Consulting Firms

This list of the best marketing strategy consulting firms is one that encompasses a broad range of companies, each with their own strengths and focus areas. This list was created with the needs of potential clients in mind.

Our goal was to highlight not just the best marketing consulting firms, but also demonstrate what makes them unique, and what makes them a leader at what they do.

Whether you’re looking for digital marketing consulting firms, or you want comprehensive, end-to-end solutions for a global workforce, our list of marketing consultancy firms should prove valuable as you search for a partnership that will meet your needs—both now and in the future.

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