This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.
Several years ago, Dr Peter Steidl gave me some advice on my business. He said “Within professional services, there are three established models, or ‘types’, of consulting, Rocket science, Grey Hair and Process. The natural progression for you is from Process to Rocket Science as your competitors are almost exclusively Grey Hair “.
These three types of consulting were classified by David Maisters, as being:
- Rocket science – this is ground-breaking, thought-leadership work, solving a problem that is unique or unusual or did not exist previously. Genuine rocket science, is rare, because a new problem can only ever be solved once before the type of work moves down the chain.
- Grey hair – this is solving problems based on long term proven experience. Industry and practical approaches are used to solve the problems at hand. The work needs to be carried out accurately and effectively, with skill and experience.
- Process – what once might have been rocket science break-through has now become a process that can be followed in order to achieve a solution to a problem. It must be performed correctly to achieve the desired results but ultimately it is completed because it has all been seen before.
Obviously each model has its strengths and weaknesses, but I thought that in the face of the increased complexity facing marketers, it is worthwhile reviewing these approaches and explaining the TrinityP3 methodology and the reason why.
The risks of Rocket Science Consulting
The problems facing marketers are increasingly ‘unique or unusual or did not exist previously’. Not just because of the increased complexity facing marketers, but also the recognition of the increased diversity and individuality of brands and their marketing strategy requirements.
The days of a simple broadcast / awareness strategy is no longer core for all consumer goods communications strategies, let alone the many other categories and brands in the market place. There is no longer a one strategy to fit all needs, but instead it is customised strategies developed specifically to the individual circumstances and needs of the brand or business.
It therefore applies that the best way to manage these strategies is also customised and will often lead to issues and problems that are unique to that brand. These require a scientific approach to diagnosing these issues and develop the solutions to these problems.
It is this increasing complexity and an understanding of the Cynefin framework that requires marketing management to go beyond the tried and tested processes of ‘best practice’ and innovate with ‘next practice‘ approaches.
An example of this was a major financial services client who had traditionally paid their media agency a retainer for their services. The issue was that around 30% of their media requirements were for performance media (or direct response media) for their insurance business.
By restructuring their remuneration model to pay the agency a base retainer, with a performance and value based component, the media agency now had significant skin in the game, with the commensurate upside rewards. This also led to a more collaborative approach between the agency and the marketing team that had not previously been achieved.
The dangers of Grey Hair Consulting
If you want to remind yourself how quickly marketing is changing, it is worth reminding ourselves Google was started in 1998, Facebook 2004, Twitter 2006, Sino Weibo 2007 and Instagram 2010. Technology is driving this change, which is not just impacting media choice, but marketing strategy, agency and supplier types and roster structures, compensation, performance measures and in fact all aspects of the marketing process.
The issue for the Grey Hair consulting approach is the ability to stay up to date across the massive technology changes. This is possible if the consulting team continue to invest time and resources in staying across the changes and implications happening in the industry.
But the problem is, those that simply rely on the lessons of the past, especially in the technology space, will quickly be found wanting. The technology changes and implications on the marketing process are vast and many of the old strategies are no longer relevant.
A recent example was presented to us when we were engaged by an automotive client who have rightly, with almost 80% of people using the internet to buy their car, moved their marketing strategy to a digital and CRM focus.
The problem for the advertiser, was that the consultant they were using had used a traditional resource based model for the various agencies and suppliers in this space, rather than a performance based model. Even worse, the consultant had used non-digital and out of date CRM benchmarks, which significantly left the agencies under-sourced.
The real cost was not if they were over or underpaying their agencies, but that potentially millions of dollars in sales had been lost because the strategy ended up being poorly and incompletely implemented.
The limitations of Process Consulting
The innovations developed by Rocket Science Consulting quickly become processes that can be used with other clients. But even then the application of these processes need to be customised to meet the specific needs of the client.
The more ‘process’ driven the solution the more likely the application of these processes can be applied by less experienced consultants. A prime example of this is the heavy use of graduates in the major consulting companies.
The issue with marketing is that as it is such a niche and specialist category, the consultants need an intimate and practical understanding of the marketing process. Specifically they need hands on experience to bring to the process an understanding of the process and how the process is applied.
The simplest example of this is a procurement consultancy that approached one of our clients with the proposal that they could save 30% – 40% of their media spend. They even presented a number of anonymous case studies of their success. The advertiser questioned them on their approach, based on our advice.
It appears that the main strategic approach to deliver this significant media saving was for the advertiser to put their significant television media spend with two or even one television network, instead of strategically selecting the appropriate programming across all four networks.
The consultants clearly had a process they applied to media trading that did not consider the underlying strategy, let alone the total media investment, which in this case would have made the advertiser the largest and most dominnte on the single network they selected to achieve the 40% saving.
The TrinityP3 Consulting Approach
When Dr Steidl advised me on developing my consulting business from the Process model to the Rocket Science model I reviewed the various aspects of the business to identify the areas of opportunity. Today the TrinityP3 business provides marketers and procurement professionals with aspects of all three approaches. These include:
- TrinityP3 actively works to provide thought leadership thinking, which we share with the market through the TrinityP3 blog, social media, Slideshare and YouTube.
- TrinityP3 has developed a number of innovative applications in response to client needs including the unique collaboration and alignment survey system Evalu8ing and the Business Phone Application the Resource Rate Calculator. (The most recent update December 2013)
- We develop customised and tailor made solutions to our clients’ strategic requirements rather than simply applying a cookie cutter solution to agency remuneration, agency selection and relationship management.
- All TrinityP3 consultants have at a minimum ten years experience in the marketing and advertising industry in a particular subject matter speciality.
- All consultants are encouraged to keep up to date with the market place, particularly in technology and digital by actively participating in these categories such as through social media, digital technology and the like.
- TrinityP3 consultants contribute to the industry knowledge and discussion on change and implication through the TrinityP3 blog and industry events and speaking engagements.
- We have developed and automated a number of processes including the Agency Register which holds detailed and specific information on the wide variety of agencies not only across APAC, but globally.
- TrinityP3 has developed a Resource Calculator and agency remuneration templates that lets us accurately and specifically calculate the costs of agency remuneration and allow us to benchmark not just cost but also efficiency.
- Finally we will be soon launching Ad Cost Checker, an online system that allows agencies, marketers and procurement to benchmark agency rates online and in real time against specific category and industry variables. (To be launched in early February 2014)
I hope that this gives you some insight into our approach and an understanding of the various consulting approaches.
As this is the last post for 2013 I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients for their on-going support. Without you this would all be pointless.
To those that follow our work and contribute through commenting and sharing, we thank you too. You make it worthwhile and challenging.
We wish you a safe and happy festive holiday and look forward to continuing the journey with you in 2014.