All around Austin, people are sniffling, sneezing, hacking, and experiencing fatigue and headaches. Is it just the regular allergic reaction to our Cedar Fever season, the symptoms of the common winter cold, or something more serious? When do you decide to pop a few pills and heat up some chicken soup rather than head straight to a medical professional?
You don't want to rush off to the doctor every time you sneeze or have a headache: Healthy people typically wait to see whether a symptom persists or becomes more severe or frequent over time. Of course, you don't want to wait so long that a more serious problem that could have been prevented surfaces, such as pneumonia.
That same kind of sound thinking applies to business situations, too.
For example, as a marketer, it is important to know when to buckle up and tackle an initiative internally versus when to secure an outside expert, ideally before the situation becomes critical or spirals into something more challenging.
Whether to hire a marketing consulting company is a question every CMO and other marketing leader addresses at one time or another.
Types of Outside Expertise
If you're fairly certain you just need a bit stronger medicine (to continue with our medical metaphor), a quick trip to the "minute clinic" might suffice. If you don't know what you need, it may be time to see your nurse or general practitioner. And if that doesn't resolve the problem, you may need to see a specialist or two.
Again, those scenarios apply to marketing, too.
- In some instances, all you need is a tactician—additional arms and legs for solving a specific short-term problem, such as managing event details, writing copy, or creating graphics.
- In other situations, you may need someone for a longer period to serve in a more strategic capacity—for example, developing a new product launch strategy and all it entails.
- For still other situations, such as executing a multi-touch campaign, you may be able to rely on a generalist—that is, a marketer with a broad base of experience.
- Or your scenario may call for a specialist, such as the special expertise needed for designing and conducting market research, building marketing models, or developing a dashboard.
Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.