One of the things I find interesting when I meet a potential client is their idea of how to best use our services. New prospects often fall into two categories, those who are placing an order and those who provide only a piece of the information we need to best serve them. These are the two most common mistakes people make when hiring a consultant.
This usually starts with someone saying “I don’t really know much about marketing but here’s what you need to do”. One example is of a person who informed me they needed an email campaign. I said, that’s fine but let’s take a step back and tell me know more about your company. During that discussion, I discovered what they were saying was very different from what they had on their website. The messaging was all over the place.
In this instance what they really needed was a clear message across all platforms starting with their website. Once that was in place it was time to discuss an e-mail campaign. As it turned out, they had fewer than 50 contacts. Our next step was to build up their database before initiating a campaign. I could have simply set up an e-mail campaign as requested but that would not have been in the best interest of the client.
The second challenge we face as consultants are the silo creators. These are the people who provide you with only a piece of the whole picture. When working with manufacturing clients the first series of questions I ask include:
- What’s your capacity?
- Which product line is most profitable?
- Are you fully staffed in the area you want to grow?
I often get some strange looks, after all what does a marketing consultant need with this information? The answer is simple, I need to know what to promote.
That said, let’s look at those questions again…
- What’s your capacity? – There’s only one thing worse than having product with no customers and that’s having customers and no product.
- Which product line is most profitable? – Why would you want to sell product that doesn’t make you the most money?
- Are you fully staffed in the area you want to grow? – With manufacturing employees so hard to come by, are you prepared to manage growth in the face of employees leaving?
Many years ago I was working with a manufacturer. We increased their orders through marketing and some direct sales. After a couple months I was in a meeting with the owner discussing the success of the campaign when he said “yeah we have more work but we hate that kind of work.” This is information that I could have used in advance. It’s important to educate consultants about your entire business so that they can make sound decisions on your behalf.