Three strategies for seeking consulting help and one method to avoid

Three strategies for seeking consulting help and one method to avoid  Headshot

By Justis Saayman, Principal Marketing Consultant

We’ve all been there. You buy a marketing platform, intent on using every last bell and whistle and then life intervenes. You get tied up in long-range planning. Your email marketing person quits. The company changes direction.

So you hack through what you can do only to get frustrated as you feel that the results aren’t where they could be. It’s no wonder marketers feel resigned to just hiring an agency to pick a platform and make it work.  

It doesn’t have to be that way. Strategic services can help you achieve your goals faster: an experienced consultant coaches you on digital marketing best practices or executes campaigns for you. Here are three things to think about when you consider entering a consulting arrangement.  

Services to get you up and running quickly. The best way to get the maximum amount of ROI from a new marketing platform is to be using 80% of the functionality within three months of signing the contract.

If you are a bit time-pressed to launch a new platform, ask for an engagement that is specifically geared toward getting you up and running quickly. You should have the option to book a one-time setup of the platform. For aspects that will be used daily, you will want help learning how to build campaigns using your data (not a test set). Be wary of service agreements that involve heavily scripted instructional calls or a series of videos without scheduled meetings specific to your needs.

Strategy-oriented services. For brands that have a general sense of what they want to do, but aren’t sure how to get there, a strategy-centric approach is good. A strategies contract should be led by a seasoned marketing pro who takes a half day (or more) to meet with you, go over your objectives and provide specific advice on how to meet your goals.

You’ll want to discuss projects such as those that can generate the most revenue, discuss how the tactics fit into your marketing plan, what your biggest desires are and how to get there. Mapping key customer journeys, behaviors, and segments should be part of the analysis.

A technical consult. If your needs are technical in nature, such as an implementation, help needed surfacing data, or an integration, seek advice that specifically addresses the challenge. A need for specialized reporting fits in this category as well. Technical help shouldn’t be lumped in with other kinds of strategy services that you don’t need.  

And here is the arrangement you want to avoid. We’ll call it the “I’ve got some budget I’m going to throw at the problem” engagement.

Don’t get caught using services and agencies to patch a hole. If you are constantly calling in services to put out a fire, run a quick campaign or strategize on one small part of your marketing program, you are probably wasting money. This band-aid approach doesn’t give you the confidence to run your programs effectively - and it requires a call anytime there is a strategy shift at your brand.

It is really better to specifically nail down what you need, and how the services will help your team be more productive and engaged in using the platform going forward. But a la carte services aren’t all bad. If you have used services to get up and running quickly, solve a technical challenge or build a strategy, an a la carte option to learn more (perhaps get that last 20% of functionality out of the platform) makes sense.   

Making the most of an engagement: The VioVet story

VioVet Ltd. is a great example of an online retailer using services in a very strategic way. The veterinary supplies retailer worked with our professional services team to identify the point in a customer’s shopping journey where shoppers would leave without making a purchase, targeting web pages that were high in traffic but low in conversions.

We helped the company set up an educational content email strategy to send to customers with information specific to the section of the website they were browsing. Now, each visitor will receive a timely email with expert information and advice relating to the specific pages they had been viewing within one hour of them leaving the website.

“We identified and targeted the areas that were resulting in the highest levels of abandonment, which we felt could deliver the highest returns,” explains Verity Beaton, VioVet’s Marketing Manager. The results: £1 extra in revenue per email sent, a 50% increase in open rates and a 19% increase in click-through rates.

My favorite part of the VioVet story is Beaton’s use of the word “we”. Beaton wasn’t a passive participant handing the job off to the consultants. She was actively engaged.

That’s the way it should be when you employ consulting.

Want to learn more about Fresh Relevance’s strategic services?