It’s your ability to prove and establish trust. It’s your ability to take a highly qualified, prospective client and then systematically and sequentially move them from prospect to buyer. Then, depending on your business model and your product service model, get them to continue buying over and over, buy more, or buy different. It’s finding different ways to add value and monetize it. It’s being able to educate people not just in the elements of your product or service but how your product or service impacts them. It is figuring out the client’s definition of value and being able to resonate to it and also it’s the ability to clearly understand what, why, and how they’re trying to achieve an outcome through the acquisition of the product. It’s the ability to demand preeminence even if you’re at the lowest price in the market. It’s the ability to truly understand, appreciate, and respectfully admire the buyer you’re selling to; you have to have a connection with them. It’s the ability to clearly understand everyone and everything you’re competing against so that you know how to add value and how to distinguish and how to meaningfully compensate.
WHAT IS THE CORE FUNCTION OF MARKETING CONSULTING?
It’s the ability to communicate in an authentic way that resonates truth with the client. It’s the understanding of a number of different distinctions that really need to be understood. It’s trust building, empathy, and leadership, and how to integrate those various factors into what you’re doing, what you’re saying, how you’re positioning. Part of it is congruency; meaning doesn’t matter what you say on the front end, meaning whatever vehicle you use — ad, e-mail, Web site, trade show booth, seminar, telemarketing — you’ve got to be able to have your team be congruent so the ability to also instill clarified and passionate and complete understanding. It’s the ability to be fluent and open enough to not be rigid about how you reach your market because the true breakthroughs come from looking at the situation from fresh new eyes.
One of the advantages that I’ve had for most of my life is the fact that I’ve operated this outrageously diverse realm of 465 industries. It has given me just extraordinary perspective to borrow ways of thinking, borrow strategic distinctions, borrow marketing approaches, borrow business models, borrow ways of targeting, attracting, converting, selling, reselling from all kinds of industries and introduce them to people in industries where everybody does things the same.
It’s about understanding that marketing is not a static, episodic activity. It’s about the ability to see implications, correlations, and connections so that you understand that everything has a positive or negative outcome. It’s about being able to break apart all the leverage or impact points that exist in the business revenue-generating fulfillment transaction and being able to critically and clinically evaluate performances, breakdowns, and breakthroughs. It’s about being able to objectively and honestly look at your current way of doing things with a clinical and a constructively critical eye to see where you’re weak and where you’re strong.
It’s about realizing that all things don’t perform equally. One ad or one medium might produce a certain profit upfront, but that kind of a buyer might be more or less inclined to buy a lot of other things for a lot longer or lesser time. One salesperson might be better at selling certain products or certain markets or certain situations. And it’s about really masterfully understanding all the dynamics that are positively and negatively impacting where you are today and then realizing where you’re trying to get to, and why you’re trying to get there, and how you’re going to from a marketing perspective.
WHAT DOES A MARKETING CONSULTANT DO ?
Well, they might be standard. My whole process is to understand first of all what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how you’re doing it, how it’s doing, and ask and answer those questions. Not at the macro level but at the granular level. And then when I see what it tells me, good or bad, when I see how it’s producing, good or bad, when I see the human capital expenditure, good or bad, and then I compare it to alternatives going on — competitors, alternative product service choices, parallel universes that are not competitive but are similar — then I’m able to assess, diagnosis and render not just a recommendation, but first a picture of what’s going on. It’s an assessment of why you either are not getting the results you want or you’re getting results you want sometimes and don’t even know it.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC ACTIONS THAT ARE PRETTY STANDARD OR ANY UNIQUE ACTIONS?
es, the consultant must then assess what that means, and then how to take what that means to a higher level. I don’t know how other people do it. I’m known for being almost merciless in my Socratic interviews. I’ll ask questions that are very deep and I won’t let people off the hook and I’ll go deeper and deeper and I will look for implications and correlations. I put people through 200-question diagnostic assessments, and for two reasons. I want them to help me understand them, but I also want to help them understand themselves. I want to know all about the market, I want to know all about their competition, I want to see what people in discussion groups are saying about them and about other providers. I want to see what people want from the product service category and what they don’t want. I do a lot of stuff in the beginning because I want to understand things fully; I don’t go into situations to lose.