New Zealand Marketing - - Opinion - Michael Goldthorpe is the man­ag­ing part­ner of Hunch.

Look at that, a lis­ti­cle. Ask any­one in con­tent mar­ket­ing and they’ll say lists are great at get­ting clicks. It’s good ad­vice. The world is full of it. But how do you find that great ad­vice? How do you know who to trust? How do you stack the deck to get the best pos­si­ble re­sults from agen­cies and con­sul­tants? Michael Goldthorpe starts with how you don’t.

1 Don’t clar­ify your ob­jec­tives.

Take any chal­lenge to any good con­sul­tant and the first thing they’ll ask you is “why?” Not in a Si­mon Sinek, change the world, all you need is love kind of way. It’s a ques­tion of busi­ness ob­jec­tives. Are you driv­ing sales? Are you build­ing your brand? Is it one of those ‘just gotta do it, slide it away with min­i­mum fuss’ kind of jobs? If you’re clear about why you’re solv­ing a prob­lem you’ll get much bet­ter ad­vice on how to go about it.

2 Don’t set a bud­get.

“How much will it cost?” “Well, what’s your bud­get?” It’s a cir­cu­lar con­ver­sa­tion that oozes lack of trust. But bud­get is es­sen­tial. Most mar­ket­ing is a num­bers game of di­min­ish­ing re­turns. The more you spend, the more you’ll get. To a point. It’s an agency’s job to max­imise your bud­get and get the best pos­si­ble re­turn on in­vest­ment. But if you don’t size up the ball­park, no-one can hit the ball out of it.

3 Don’t trust the ad­vice.

They say con­sul­tants are like colons. Pretty much ev­ery­one’s got one and they’re usu­ally full of crap. And if that gag made you think of some­one you know, don’t ask them for ad­vice. Be­cause the most valu­able part of any ad­vice is your ca­pac­ity to make use of it. Great ad­vice is help­ful or eye-open­ing or chal­leng­ing. And if you reg­u­larly find your­self ig­nor­ing the ad­vice you’re get­ting, it’s prob­a­bly not the best ad­vice for you.

4 Don’t pay for ad­vice.

It goes with­out say­ing. If you don’t value ad­vice, don’t pay for it. But there’s more to it than that. Ev­ery­one needs to get paid some­how. So if you’re tak­ing ad­vice with­out pay­ing for it, chances are it’s con­flicted ad­vice. “We think you need a multi-chan­nel en­gage­ment cam­paign.” Why? Be­cause we can mon­e­tise the ex­e­cu­tion of a multi-chan­nel en­gage­ment cam­paign to off­set the busi­ness cost of giv­ing you the ad­vice. Surely it’s bet­ter to pay up­front so ev­ery­one’s clear the ad­vice is in the best in­ter­est of your busi­ness.

5 Don’t com­mit.

This is most im­por­tant of all. Ap­par­ently, a con­sul­tant is some­one who could tell you a hun­dred dif­fer­ent ways to make love but doesn’t have a part­ner. It’s a bit sad. And it doesn’t have to be that way. No con­sul­tant can solve all your prob­lems in one day. How could they? They don’t know your busi­ness. But click-in and stay com­mit­ted and they’ll learn the road­blocks and the chal­lenges and the short-cuts to suc­cess. And by sit­ting out­side your busi­ness they can also help you out of the echo-cham­ber to gen­uinely push your busi­ness for­ward. That’s how part­ner­ship works.

Get bet­ter ad­vice with­out the don’t.

So those are the easy ways to get bad ad­vice. And we all know it. But some­times in the day-to-day of jug­gling stake­hold­ers and work­loads and bud­gets, we all do it. So all we need to do is dump the ‘dont’s’. And if only ev­ery­thing was that sim­ple.

Luck­ily, some things are. Here’s three to re­mem­ber. Firstly, no-one is in busi­ness to give bad ad­vice. So if things aren’t work­ing it’s worth won­der­ing why. Se­condly, the more your part­ners know about your chal­lenges and your busi­ness, the bet­ter their ad­vice will be. And most im­por­tant of all, long-stand­ing, trusted, prop­erly re­mu­ner­ated part­ner­ships will al­ways give you the best ad­vice you can get.

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