Why (independent) consultants may be your best investment throughout the pandemic
Let me start by stating the obvious: I will not be the first or the last to blog about the challenging times we are facing as individuals, organizations, and society at large. I do however have a unique perspective, shared only by those who have recently left stable jobs to start their own business. I launched my niche marketing consulting business 3.5 years ago, after 20 years of corporate marketing roles. It was a really exciting (and daunting) time! To be able to put all my knowledge and experience working for some of the worlds most known and beloved brands to work for other organizations was a challenge I was excited to take on.
Although my business is a few years old, it is still in its infancy, requiring constant demonstration of my business expertise and worth to prospective clients. I know this effort does not change even as a business matures, but 3.5 years in still requires building a base, and expanding that base during a pandemic is proving really, really hard. Budgets are strapped even tighter, and most marketing and communications initiatives are focused on re-establishing what the business stands for.
In a budget or reforecast exercise, the easiest expenditures to cancel or shy away from are those seen as non-essential and non-committed. However, what if we thought about this differently? What if adding experienced thought leadership to help guide and execute key initiatives in the organization might be the essential service you didn’t know was needed?
So; Why are independent consultants worthy of your investment at a time like this?
1. Outside perspective is irreplaceable.
· Tenure and experience within an organization is invaluable. The passion for the brand and organization, the history, and the processes may also cloud judgement when change is the necessary ingredient to make a positive impact on the business.
· Outside, experienced perspective brings diversity of thought while still being able to respect the requirements and nuances of the business to deliver on the mandate.
2. Consultants have a niche .. for a reason.
· We offer expertise that organizations often do not have the time or headcount to execute themselves effectively.
· Managers, Directors, VPs and others are more than capable of doing their job. Imagine how much more effective they can be if key projects had the benefit of outside perspective and project management.
3. 100% focus on the project.
· Whether it is an agency matrix evaluation, an agency search, a new business pitch or a strategy project, I can be laser focused on that task for your business. Conversely, when managed internally it becomes one of dozens of things ‘to do’ that will rarely get the attention and prioritization it requires.
4. You are paying for the work and expertise, and not overhead or corporate bureaucracy.
· Independent consultants are small and nimble, meaning close if not all of the fee is for knowledge and expertise rather than overhead.
· For consultants like myself who spent years - 2 decades in fact - working in the same marketing departments that are now seeking help, we bring real world operational experience with knowledge, recommendations and perspective that has been crafted over time after working inside brands and agencies.
I love the quote in the header from Warren Buffet;
“In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”
Changing vessels can be an overwhelming feat when you try to go at it alone. Try to recognize the value in hiring experts to help you rebuild and solve. It can be so much more effective than trying to patch leaks with a crew that could use some extra (wo)manpower.