Getting back into the blogging after a hiatus to catch up on the consulting backlog …
This post is a repeat of one from just before my hiatus, about working with an independent consultant.
Every day, marketing and management consultants are leading businesses large and small to faster growth, more effective customer acquisition, greater profits, and a more productive long term direction. But, unfortunately, nearly every day, other companies suffer disappointment and frustration in their dealing with consultants.
Here is some solid advice – from someone who has earned a living on both sides of the consultant / client relationship – about what consultants can and can’t accomplish for you.
A consultant is an independent expert who you engage to tackle valuable tasks that you can’t conveniently or efficiently accomplish with your own employees.
- Does your staff have sufficient ‘bandwidth’ to tackle a new, perhaps unfamiliar task?
- Do they have the special skills, the insider contacts and knowledge about a new industry you aim to enter?
- Does your study need anonymity to avoid tipping off competitors?
- Would an outsider’s viewpoint and mediation be valuable in resolving tough internal issues?
Your consultant will work with you to customize a plan – and then bring you the results – that accomplish your unique business objectives. Here are some examples of questions that consultants are especially well equipped to help their clients answer:
- Will customers like my new product? How much would it be worth to them? How are customers and competitors likely to respond to my new product offering?
- What do my customers like about my company / product / service? Why have some potential customers decided not to buy from me? How do I compare to my competitors?
- How is my marketplace likely to grow and change over the coming 5-10 years? What should I do to prepare for, and prosper in that future?
- What is the optimum organizational structure for the future my company faces, and what is the optimum pathway to reach that future?
Consultants have the experience, skills and focus to address these questions methodically and objectively, and to provide honest, unbiased analysis and recommendations.
Finally, remember that as good and diligent as most consultants are, nobody’s crystal ball is perfect. Marketing is often as much about ‘soft data’ – about the motivations, intentions and preconceptions of your potential customers and competitors – as it is about the facts and figures of the marketplace.
Next week … Some of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of finding and working with a quality consultant who’s suited to your needs.