Consultant, Prosultant or Insultant? Part 1

Now more than ever, fear is driving the business process. To break it down, business owners/C-levels/boards of directors, terrified of the current economy, are making decisions based on fear.  

To make matters worse, their employees, both scared of losing their jobs and of looking bad in their superiors’ eyes, are implementing these fear-based decisions.

The truth is, what I just described is pretty much business as usual!

Even before the economy started to tank, most of the people I’d talk with on a daily basis already were floating through their business tasks with elevated levels of terror. Mix in the current economy and the fear rate goes up exponentially.  

Bad decisions executed by terrified employees. Sounds like a disaster in the making, which many could argue is exactly how we wound up in the situation we’re in: watching our economy unravel while our politicians fiddle away (that’s a conversation for another day).

At the risk of sounding self-serving, the need for a good consultant, an objective third party, is needed now more than ever.  

OK, let me say something here that many of you already know. In my four-plus years of writing for Catalog Success, in print and on the Web, as well as eMarketing & Commerce Magazine, not once have I ever written an article even slightly or indirectly pitching my services (or consulting services in general).

That doesn’t mean I’m going to start now. Rather, I’d like to remind you of the benefits of working with one. And mind you, I’m not pitching you for my services. I’m dedicating this week’s column to reminding you of the merits of working with a good consultant in these tough times. That could be any other good consultant, not just me.

That said, here are eight things a consultant can do for you right now with a set of fresh eyes to balance out the fear-based decision making:

  1. Review all of your numbers, from response data to budgets to lifetime value analysis and more.
  2. Review all of your vendor pricing in search of efficiencies.
  3. Look for opportunities in your circulation plan, targeting dead weight.
  4. Review your merchandising plans and prepare square-inch analysis, among other tactics.
  5. Seek out other marketing opportunities you may not be taking advantage of (e.g., social media/Web 2.0, community, on-site reviews).
  6. Find advertising media you’re not using and recommend structure testing, such as package inserts, print ads, supermarket take-ones, billing statements and so forth.
  7. Provide ongoing support to keep you focused and on track.
  8. Review your creative efforts and make recommendations for improvement.

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor
The IT director of a former client used to tell me there’s no such thing as a consultant and all of us are actually insultants. Next week, in part two of this series, I’ll discuss some insider tips on the three types of consultants and how to choose the best for your organization.

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