Daily Archives: April 16, 2009

Open Call for Category Consulting Clarity

As some of you may have picked up from a recent comment of mine on Spend Matters, I got a bit of blasting behind the scenes for my recent post on how to deal with Yo Yo Contracts, with the notable exception of the constructive feedback from Barb Ardell of Paladin who was willing to publicly share her advice with you. The private feedback ranged from statements that I didn’t know what I was talking about because I’m not a “real” sourcing consultant (I never claimed to be a sourcing consultant, I’m a sourcing technology and process expert who freely admits his only category expertise is in IT … and that’s why you never seen me advertising traditional sourcing services through my consulting practice), through statements that questioned practicality (a matter of opinion), to stuff that I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) post, repeat, or respond to.

Usually my readers are pretty quiet, so I found this a bit surprising and, upon further contemplation, promising. If people are willing to get riled up over this topic, then they must be passionate enough to want to write about it. So, in lieu of the cross-blog series that I would normally try to pull together to kick off spring conference season, I’ve instead opted to run a special guest series on category sourcing, starting the week of April 27. I’ve already invited some of the thought leaders who’ve previously posted on SI to submit a piece on how you can save money on raw materials, goods, and/or services in these troubled times, but I don’t want to exclude anyone who wants to take a crack at educating the space. So, if you want to be front and center on SI, just drop me a line or send me a draft post and we’ll get to work on putting you in the limelight.

Consulting Confusion? the doctor Can Help!

This is an advertisement for the doctor‘s services. Regular programming will resume with tomorrow morning’s post.

In this morning’s post, I outlined a sequence of steps that consulting services providers can take to return to business as usual and put this recession behind us. Based upon the conversations I’ve had over the last nine months, I know that many of you could use some help, especially in marketing and thought leadership. In this post I’m going to outline what I can do to help with respect to the points I brought up.

  • Focus on a Niche
    It is important to focus on your strengths. If you have options, and can’t decide which ones to pick, I can help you with market research, so that you can make a fact-based decision.
  • Establish Thought Leadership
    The best consultants are, by definition, doers. They’re usually not the best writers, marketers, or self promoters. I can work with you to get the thought leadership out of your head and onto e-paper. Then I can help you put together compelling white papers, talk outlines, webinar outlines, and other thought leadership pieces that will help to establish you as a leader in your (supply management) niche.
  • Create Brand Awareness
    The best way to to create brand awareness is to be constantly visible. The best way to be constantly visible is to have your logo where your market already goes, which is:

    • the site most likely to be found by a supply management professional (your search traffic comes here),
    • the only blog in the space ranked on all five external traffic engines (SI is #1),
    • the blog that is consistently ranked #1 on Ranking, Quantcast, and Compete, and
    • the blog that is”hit” an average of 4,500 to 5,000 times a day from over 1,500 unique IPs.

    So put your logo here on Sourcing Innovation.

  • Outline an Organizational Path for Long Term Success
    In an uncertain economic climate, it is important to create a plan that will allow a client to maximize your services over the long term, and maximize their own success. Because of the large number of entities whom I talk to, I have a unique perspective that cuts across consulting, vendor solutions, and end users. I can help to refine a practice area for maximum impact.


The Market Dilemma III: Consultants Provide the Clarity

Just like vendors need to stand up and provide a vision, consultants need to sit down (with executives) and provide the execution clarity that will get buyers on the fast-track to procurement, organizational, industrial, and economic success. More specifically, at this time, they need to:

  • Focus on a Niche
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Create Brand Awareness
  • Outline an Organizational Path for Long Term Success

Focus on a Niche

In this market, failure is not an option and no wants an old-school consultant who says “yes” first and figures it out later. Identify what you’re good at, how you can deliver significant value, and, more importantly, how you can identify significant value now. In this type of market, sound long-term planning tends to fall by the wayside, so even though it’s the most important thing a company can do, chances are, they’re only going to spend on short-term initiatives until you prove that you can deliver the goods.

Establish Thought Leadership

There are hundreds of other consulting providers out there. If you don’t believe me, check my Company Listing on the resource site. Why should they use you? How do they know that you know your stuff? How do they know that you’re on a path of continual improvement? How do they know that you’re focussed on being the best? If you don’t establish thought leadership, they don’t … which means that your only chance of success is if the other firms the customer is considering also don’t have any thought leadership and you want to compete on price, not on value.

Create Brand Awareness

This means that, contrary to popular belief, you have to market, market, market. You need permanent brand visibility so that when people have a problem in your niche, they call you. This doesn’t mean expensive print ads in magazines no one looks at (despite impressive sounding circulation numbers), this doesn’t mean sponsoring expensive analyst reports year after year (especially considering that many of the A-level analysts have departed the big firms in the last few years), and it doesn’t mean hiring a VP of Marketing who’ll come in, use up a lot of your budget, and recommend the same-old same-old that didn’t work at the last company he was at. What it does mean is that you need to tap into the channels where your customer base already is. Speaking engagements at key events, sponsored educational webinars for appropriate professional societies, and, most importantly, the blogs … where educated, innovative, progressive buyers go for information and illumination on a daily basis.

Outline an Organizational Path for Long-Term Success

Although you need a quick-hit ROI niche to get that initial engagement, you don’t want to be seen as a one-trick pony. It’s important to have a plan that will allow you to guide your customers down a recovery path that will take them to long term success.