Businesses engage a variety of professional consultants to improve their company’s performance: Online marketing consultants, general marketing consultants, management consultants and PR consultants.
Yet many companies fail to get the best value from the relationship and some may even consider it a costly exercise, instead of an investment. That should not be so.
Business as a Vehicle
Imagine you are on your way to a destination: Your business is the car, and your business goals are the destination. To get to your destination safely, using the most direct route, you will need:
- The car: Your business – You need to keep this going to reach your destination.
- The engine: Your marketing activity – If it stops your business won’t go anywhere.
- The fuel: Your marketing budget – Running out of this will stop your marketing activity dead cold.
- The driver: Your staff, in particular your marketing division – They drive your business forward.
- The passengers: Anyone employed by your company other than the driver. This includes you, as well as your consultants. Are your current consultants suggesting ways to maximise your car’s performance? Are they tuning your engine constantly and increasing your fuel efficiency, thereby allowing you to get to your destination faster? Finally, are they making sure you are driving in the right direction altogether?
Now think about marketing as a complicated route with a lot of intersections. Taking a wrong turn could send you on a longer route while still having the same amount of fuel. Keep taking wrong turns and your fuel might run out before you get to your final destination. Similarly, ineffective marketing initiatives can certainly sap away your valuable marketing budget.
And choosing the right passenger(s) can help you with your journey – they may know the way to get there faster.
This is the role of your marketing consultants: Ensuring that there is effective communication with your marketing division (the car driver), accelerating business performance overall and minimising the risk of taking wrong turns.
Effective Marketing Consultancy?
Below are some tips that will help you and your marketing consultants improve and grow your business.
1. Results-Driven Consulting: Set Realistic Goals and Milestones
To achieve results, you need to determine what “good results” are. Set specific desired outcomes (= goals) for the consultant, and achievable milestones which define “good progress” (= key performance indicators or KPIs). Be prepared to discuss these and get your consultant to report regularly on their progress.
2. Communicate and Work as a Team
If your passenger/navigator were blindfolded, it would be impossible to know when you are about to arrive at an intersection – unless you actively ask for the directions all the time! This also applies to your marketing team and external consultants: If you don’t talk to them they won’t know what you are doing. Involve your consultants in your plans/strategies/campaign activities and they, in turn, can help by providing input, ideas and a framework for success.
Of course, a good navigator is one step ahead of the driver at all times, with an optimised route already in mind.
If your navigator tells you that you should turn right, you’d better be sure to follow their advice. The most important thing in every plan is the execution. Without correct execution, it is impossible to achieve anything: Ineffective at best, very expensive at worst.
4. Measure! Measure! Measure!
Measure your progress. Use website measurement software such as Google Analytics, CRM systems, carry out periodic reporting/data audits and of course make sure you consider all insights provided by your consultants. Without measurement, you are driving with your eyes closed: you may be moving but at what speed and in what direction?
5. Be Transparent: Honesty is the Best Policy
To get the best from your consultants, they need to fully understand your business, the intricacies and the pitfalls. Consultants want to guide you in the right direction and they can’t do this whilst being blindfolded. Give them information that will help them deliver value to your business.
Consult with your Consultant!
Your marketing consultants are there to work with you and offer advice. They tell you what you are doing well, and what you can improve on. Never hesitate to talk to them, ask questions, or use them as a sounding board. Spending as little as 5 minutes with your consultant now, can help you avoid going in the wrong direction long term.