What Makes a Good Marketing Consultant?

I spent over thirty years of my life as an advertising consultant and I must say it’s been an amazing experience. I’ve met terrific businesses, people, and made many friends. But the single most reward was the knowledge I gained from all their stories. These interactions made me a better consultant as I was able to pass this insight onto my clients. Yet, this alone, did not make me a good consultant. Rather, it was my attitude toward the customer.

Sure, I did the usual job of researching the business, asking all the: who, what, where, why, and how questions that were expected of someone delving into their background. I also uncovered all the features and benefits of the product or service, Above all that, I had a goal of actually helping the client succeed. This simple plan is the basis for everything that was to follow. It’s not as obvious as it appears.

A consultant is in business to make money. They get paid for their time, talent, and expertise. They are sought out as a physician might be to cure an ailing relative. They provide solutions to problems and long-term treatments. But they can also be greedy. It’s like the mechanic asked to fix a car that manages to also find ten other troubles that you never noticed or probably don’t need attended. The best consultant is one that listens to the client and makes recommendations based upon their current or future needs.

It didn’t take long in my early days to realize how much my clients relied on my input and how I could affect their bottom line. I also realized that we were forming a partnership where they and I could benefit from calculated and well-informed decisions. In some cases, it meant quite a lot of trial and error. I would explain that advertising and marketing was not a science or an art. Instead, it was a series of exercises using past historical examples and case studies that may or may not predict the future results.

Once the client understood the risks, as if they were investing in the stock market, we were both in agreement. I would have them establish a realistic budget, explain ROI, or return on investment procedures, and a reasonable timeline, If they were comfortable with the risk versus return, we could move forward. I also gave them an escape route. If, at any time, a change in business or a change, in their own mind, dictated a new path, I would carefully evaluate their concerns. They were the ones paying the bill and it was their business at stake.

It might be tempting for a novice to extract a large sum from an unwitting business person, but, in the long run, they are hurting themselves. A good consultant will always make money the old-fashioned way: providing excellent customer service. They don’t need to gouge or overcharge. They should always have the best interest of the business first and foremost, forming a partnership and hopefully, a friendship that will prove their value and worth. Payment is a bonus

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