In this opinion piece David Angell takes a candid look at his first three months as an industry consultant after many years working in media agencies.
Here’s an interesting thing: when I privately announced to selected colleagues my decision to enter the world of ‘consultancy’, the reaction I had was…well, to use a polite cliché – mixed.
Having been on the inside for the last almost-ninety days, it has occurred to me that, much as I respect said colleagues, there is a fair amount of misunderstanding about the role of consultants in our industry.
No one has asked me to write this. And it is not intended as an advertorial. But for anyone out there considering consultancy, either independently or with an organisation like TrinityP3, fresh eyes are sometimes best. For anyone not sure of our role – here are some truths, home-delivered.
So, shall we have a quick look under the hood? Here are five comments I took on board, versus the reality of what I’ve found so far.
Consultancy? You’re moving further from the centre of decision making than you were in an agency!
Here’s the thing. Consultants aren’t there to make decisions for their clients. For example: we don’t, as is commonly assumed, tell a client which agency to choose in a pitch. We guide the client through a process and facilitate them reaching their own decision. We’re the consistent, agnostic voice of experience in the room. We’re able to inject market data and knowledge via our own IP. It’s about helping them get to the optimal outcome, from which they can drive best performance.
Decision making is great. But it’s only one way of making a difference. I’m finding that being able to influence key stakeholders with balance and from a truly objective perspective carries its own value. Does it always work? No. Is it frustrating when stakeholders don’t go with your influence, or your recommendations? Sure. Am I learning new things? Hell, yes.
TrinityP3? They’re the pitch guys, right? Won’t it get boring, just doing one pitch after another?
I’ve been directly involved in about ten projects since starting. Two of them have been pitches.
Fifteen years ago, our nucleus as a company was in cost benchmarking. We expanded from this into pitch consultancy.
Over the last five years, the service offering has expanded with the growing mix of consultancy expertise to include areas such as structural alignment projects, relationship assessments, contractual negotiation, environmental marketing advice, and remuneration structuring. We’re working across several APAC countries, and expanding into the UK and the US.
Pitch consultancy is an important part of our business, don’t get me wrong. But these days it represents about thirty percent of our revenue. We work with a consultancy mix that offers direct specialist experience and those that have transferable skills that can be brought to bear on a project.
Darren Woolley – he’s pretty polarising, isn’t he? What about all those articles?
Well – yes, he is. But a combination of having the balls to put his head over the parapet, alongside a committed content marketing strategy, has transformed our business over the past three years.
Not everyone likes us. But that’s OK. We have opinions and we’re bold about expressing them. If people don’t agree – no problem.
If there’s one thing I’ve found that’s genuine, it is the level of care from people I’m working with about the industry they’re in. I certainly don’t always agree with Darren, or vice versa. And we won’t always get it right – who does? But the care is always there.
So you’re going to be smashing agencies for cost now, is that it?
We want, always, to build mutually equitable relationships between client and agency, not set them up for failure. Sure, cost is a factor. But it sure isn’t the only factor. Read some of the content we produce, read some of the testimonials, and you’ll see the truth in what I’m saying.
I had the cost conversation with Darren before accepting the job. I wouldn’t have taken it if our approach was cost-led. I’ve spent too long on the agency side to ever take that approach; and I’d hope that the agencies I’ve worked with so far would back these comments based on their personal experience of working with both me and with TrinityP3 historically.
So there you have it. Consider these myths, busted.
Joking aside, I think there is a great part for consultants, whether from TrinityP3 or not, to make a real difference to the quality of our industry. By behaving ethically, objectively and holistically, we can help to create better solutions, and therefore better results, for marketers, agencies and broader business.
And if that isn’t something to get professionally excited about, I don’t know what is.
- David Angell is Melbourne managing director for TrinityP3