Things You Need to Know About Working with a Consultant

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Over two years, Todd and I have used this blog to tell you who we are, what we do and why we do it. Today is my first attempt to explain a little bit more to you about how we do it.

The closest way to describe our jobs is that we are consultants — people who provide expert advice and services professionally. When you think of consultants, the first thing that usually comes to mind are doctors, lawyers or tax advisors. In our case, we are consultant our clients on how to use content in their marketing and communications efforts, such as public relations, social media, advertising and so on. As consultants, we think and work a little differently than in-house marketing departments and agencies do. 

If you are thinking about working with a consultant (or already do), here are some things you need to know about us that may help you better understand how we do what we do:

  • We are deadline-driven. No matter the size of the project or what is involved in getting it done, we are always focused on delivering the final result to clients on or before the deadline. It’s one of the first questions we ask when we get a new project: When is this due? And we start building our timelines and deliverables back from that date. This is because we know how important it is for our clients to get their work done on time, which means we need to get our work done on time. 
  • It’s not a 9-to-5 type of job. Most marketers we work with have set working hours — Monday through Friday, morning till afternoon, with a lunch break in the middle. And of course, throw in a couple weeks of paid time off every year in which they are “out of the office.” This can really limit how much gets done in a work week, or even throughout the year. We’re not bound by those time restrictions. Our working hours are chosen to accommodate differences in time zones, timing of projects, what we have to accomplish on any given day and so much more. This means that we may have to work nights, weekends or over holidays to get work done, but we balance that out by not having to be “in the office” at 9:00 a.m. every day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. We work when we need to and take off when we want.
  • If we can’t do it, we won’t tell you we can (but we will help you find someone who does). Nothing is worse than being part of a situation where someone over promises and under delivers. That often happens with marketers who try to do it all – PR, advertising, creative, print production, etc. As consultants, we focus on our niche and play to that strength, finding opportunities that allow our abilities to shine. We don’t try to sell ourselves on capabilities we don’t have, instead, we do what we do and that’s it. Because we specialize, our clients love working with us. That’s not to say, though, that if our clients approach us with an opportunity outside of the scope of the work we do that we completely abandon them. Instead of taking on the work ourselves, we help them find someone who does do that work and make the introduction to a new working relationship that benefits our clients’ needs.
  • We don’t own the work we produce. Surprisingly, one of the first questions Todd and I get asked when we’re talking with new clients is: “Who owns the work?” It’s odd to us because the answer is simple: “The client does.” If our client pays us to do something, that client has commissioned us to spend our time to do work on their behalf. Similar to how someone might commission an artist to do a painting for their home. When the painting is done, it belongs to the person who paid for it. So when our clients pay us to do work, once the work is done, it belongs to our clients.
  • We’re not (just) order takers. Our job isn’t just to take on projects, do the work and deliver the end result to a client. Our job also includes giving our opinions, sharing our ideas and experiences, letting you know our actual thoughts and helping our clients message to and manage their peers’, their bosses’ and their customers’ expectations. And, we do this as part of our everyday business — we don’t charge extra for it, and we don’t add time to our clients’ projects to do it. It’s part of who we are and what we do.

There are so many more nuances that make us, as consultants, different from anyone you’ve ever worked with. If you’re interested in knowing more, give us a call, and we’ll be happy to explain!