4 ways marketing consultants illuminate growth blind spots
If you’re reading this, you already know that we’re navigating an over-saturated attention economy, and it is tough to get the right marketing message to folks who need to hear it. Experienced marketing consultants understand the problems of communicating in the current era — and have unique angles on solutions.
Mike Farag, Fervor’s founder and CEO, has had experience on both sides of the consultancy table during his marketing and strategy career. Fervor offers a range of consulting services tailored to meet your organization’s biggest challenges. But Mike has also worked with big consultancy firms, like Deloitte and Accenture, in previous corporate gigs, and one-on-one marketing, communications, and organizational consultants over the life of Fervor. No matter their size or background, Mike says effective consultants bring a much-need outside perspective.
“Consultants bring different ideas to the table because they don’t have the paradigms you hold internally,” said Mike. “They can offer unbridled, unrestricted opinions.”
When we work in the same environment, with the same people, and on the same challenges every day, it’s easy to get myopic about our organization’s possibilities. We can put up unnecessary barriers to growth or change. We get in our own way. Consultants can illuminate those blind spots.
Consultants can also help round out the strengths of your team. Often, an organization will have a better handle on either marketing vision/strategy or marketing execution. It’s rare to have both, especially when marketing budgets are limited. Consultants can help pick up the slack on either side of the spectrum. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations, which have wildly diverse audiences and high-stakes outcomes.
“Nonprofits aren’t selling a product and communicating to similar audiences,” Mike said. “They are solving some of the world’s hardest problems and communicating an effective message to both a donor audience and those who may need the program they offer. This is so different from the business community. It’s really hard to both make a difference in the world and communicate about your work holistically.”
The many roles of a marketing consultant
Marketing consultants fill a variety of different needs for all types of organizations. Some of the most important functions an outside expert or firm can play are:
- Problem Solver: Many organizations will bring in a consultant or outside team when they run into trouble or aren’t getting any marketing traction. As stated, a third-party perspective can be a shortcut to new solutions.
- Strategy Creator: Some organizations have the people power to carry out a good plan…but need the plan. Experienced consultants can craft tailored strategies to fit unique growth goals.
- Structural Advisor: This is an overlooked advantage to getting a fresh perspective: When consultants do deep internal reviews, like Fervor’s Culture Impact Assessment, they often uncover new opportunities inside the organization. Maybe they’ve got untapped talent or could benefit from shifting priorities or streamlining workflows. Great consultants dig into the how, not just the why and what.
- Plan Executor: Finally, marketing consultants can also help you put your strategy into action, whether stepping in to fill a knowledge gap or taking the entire plan to the finish line. The best consultants will make a good plan great through smart execution and iterative innovation.
What to look for in a marketing consultant
“Picking the right consulting relationships is akin to picking the right friends,” said Mike. “They will speak truth in your life, or they will cause drama.” When vetting potential marketing consultants, ask yourself these essential questions:
- Do they have experience in my category? Powerful marketing approaches vary across industries, regions, and organizational life stages. Look for someone who knows what works in yours.
- What can they teach you? “The best agencies candidly start to work themselves out of a job,” said Mike. “They will teach you how to fish because they want your organization’s growth to be sustainable and not overly reliant on their help.”
- Have they earned my trust or the trust of those I respect? Look for consultants with a track record you can, well, track. Have you witnessed them give wise counsel and get results before?
- Will they be real with me? This is non-negotiable: Will they tell you the truth? If someone is always angling for a sale instead of trying to serve your best interests, steer clear.
- Do their values align with my organization’s? Find someone who shares your ethics and priorities, or you’ll be on different pages (or whole separate books!) from the get-go.
- Do you have good chemistry? How do you feel after a session with them? “Great consultants give you more energy than they take,” said Mike. “You want to leave a conversation thinking, ‘I’m actually excited, and I have hope.’”
If you can answer yes to all six questions, it’s a good sign you’ve found a consulting candidate worth investing in.
Two key pieces of consulting advice
Mike has two pieces of advice for organizations that are considering consultancies: Don’t wait and don’t go too small.
Mike’s first experience with bringing on outside expertise was so fruitful, he regretted how long he hesitated. “I just kicked myself that I didn’t do it two years earlier,” he said. “Why did I wait? I gave up two years of growth — and the compounding growth trajectory downstream. The seeds that were planted in that first consultant relationship are still being harvested.”
Don’t go too small
Finally, make sure you’re scaling your investment to the size of your problems. If you’re trying to solve really big challenges, you’re going to need to engage accordingly. “Sometimes you have to go a little bit bigger than you’re comfortable with in order to see what the consultant is really capable of,” said Mike.
What challenges is your organization facing in the coming year? Do you have a sticky problem you’re trying to solve? Is your strategic vision a little cloudy? Maybe you’re trying to boost your efficiency or need an extra set of hands to execute an on-point plan well. Consider engaging a marketing consultant — and see what an outside perspective can do for your business or nonprofit. Curious how our consulting services could help you grow? Let’s talk.