by Robert W. Bly
My methodology and attitude toward doing marketing consultations is somewhat different than most people who label themselves "marketing consultants." Here are the highlights:
1) My first step in doing a marketing consultation is to gather as much information as I can about the product and the market. It is similar to the process I use to gather information about a product prior to writing copy as outlined in my article How to Prepare for a Copywriting Assignment -- although it's more "big picture" and not quite at that level of detail.
2) The second step is to find out the marketing problem you want me to help you solve. The quickest way to facilitate that process is for you to print out my Marketing Communications Audit from my Web site (printable version), fill it out, and fax it to me at 973-263-0613. After I get it, I'll call you to go over it on the phone.
3) While my hourly rate for marketing consultation is equal to or a bit higher than what other marketing consultants charge, my total consulting project charges are usually significantly less. It's my belief that most consultants deliberately make the process overly formal and generate fat reports to justify their big consulting bills.
4) I typically provide my recommendations in short, informal "marketing memos," typically a page or two. I eliminate the "B.S." so you can read and act on my recommendations in a few minutes, without having to pay thousands more for a nicely desktop designed report in a binder.
5) Although each client is different, most of my clients typically want to know how to implement a marketing program to sell more of their product or service. The issues I cover in my "marketing memos" can include any or all of the following:
a) Analysis of the market (their core beliefs, feelings, desires).
b) Suggestions on where to find lists or other media that reach the target market.
c) Appropriate marketing communications vehicles to reach the market (e.g., e-mail vs. direct mail, space ads vs. banner ads).
d) Major themes and creative approaches for the above marketing communications, including key benefits and sales appeals to stress.
e) Formulation of offers that can maximize response to your marketing communications.
f) Testing recommendations, including how to track and analyze response.
6) There are some things I do not do in my marketing consultations:
a) Cost estimates and budgets - I can give you an idea of my charges to write copy for the promotions I suggest, but I do not go to other vendors (e.g., printers, graphic artists) to collect quotations for their portion of the job. I do, however, recommend specific vendors you can contact for such quotes.
b) Project management - Again, once you agree you want to do a promotion, I can write the copy. But I do not provide project management services as an ad agency might. I do, however, recommend vendors who can do project management for you.
c) Media research - If you want to buy space, air time, or lists, I will send you to specialists in those areas, who will provide their recommendations. I can also review the media selections they recommend to you. But I do not do media research, nor do I act as middleman between you and the media experts.
d) Scheduling - I do not create formal media schedules. I do suggest milestones and time frames for your marketing program.
7) My preferred method of consulting is to work with clients by mail, phone, e-mail, and fax. While I do occasionally consult with clients at my office or on their premises, my heavy copywriting schedule makes that difficult for me. I have a much better chance of fitting you in if you agree to work with me remotely rather than in person. Plus, it saves you time and travel expenses, and allows you to get your marketing problems solved sooner.