OPINION - The pros and cons of consulting
Some quick thoughts on what it's like consulting in digital advertising
Initially posted on LinkedIn here - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pros-cons-being-digital-advertising-consultant-wayne-blodwell
I’ve been consulting (in a completely standalone form) for coming up to 6 years in the digital advertising industry and it’s been an incredibly liberating experience for me. I know consultants can sometimes get a bad rap, but I thought I’d outline three pros and cons of the consultant life, specifically related to digital advertising.
My absolute favorite part of consulting is bringing together as much data as you possibly can to work towards an optimal answer. In this process you try to remove biases, politics, and time pressures to produce a quality recommendation which you truly stand behind. When you’re presenting it back to the client and you’re so confident in what you’ve produced, it’s unbelievably rewarding, more than anything else I’ve done in my career.
When going through the above process, my favorite part of it is working across multiple departments at a client. I love speaking to legal, HR, marketing, data, growth, transformation, finance, web developers etc. Sometimes I feel very outside of my comfort zone trying to talk the same language as them but taking the essence of what they do and what they’re saying and bringing all the independent views together to understand goals and challenges, is intellectually stimulating.
Throughout my career I’ve never been very good at going through my day and ticking off mandatory tasks and exercises (often feel like these could be replaced by machines at some point in all honesty!). I like the time flexibility and structure that consulting provides. You often have a start, a middle and an end – it’s on me to be accountable and structure my time so that it produces the best outputs. I love that responsibility.
The word ‘consultant’ can rub people up the wrong way. I mean, how can someone from outside the company tell someone in the role what they should be doing from a few meetings/research? I’ve seen so many negative LinkedIn posts about consultants, but I think they all miss the point of consulting – the point is to provide an objective perspective from a myriad of data points on how the team/company should operate overall and overlay as much expertise and experience as possible. Consultants aren’t there to take your job and the outputs should never be generic. It’s interesting when you meet people who are hesitant to work with you(!), sometimes you have to take the loss as they’re someone you will never win over, but others who lean into the work you’ve been hired to do tend to be seen in a better light.
The classic downside is that often you don’t get to see your work through to completion – it often gets handed off to another person/team. I’ll always check in a few weeks and a few months post an engagement as I’m eager to know if the recommendations got executed. Sadly, you often can’t control the execution and you know if it had your momentum behind it, it would get done.
When I first started, I was really taken aback by the ebbs and flows of consulting. I was doing ½ days on one side of London and running across to the other side for another ½ day with a different company, grabbing lunch en route. The next day I’d have no ‘on site’ work but feel broken from the intense day before. Since those days I’ve better figured out how to manage my energy through the course of the week with consultancy, but it definitely can be late nights when at peak, and then very quiet when not.
All in all, I really believe advertising is embracing a consultancy revolution – whether that be through companies or sole traders. We’re catching up with other industries who have a much greater % of their workers as consultants and it’s often the best approach for lots of individuals across all types of ad industry companies. I’m confident more and more companies will lean into employing people in this way as we better move to rewarding value creation as opposed to time at work.
If this has piqued your interest at all I’m more than happy to answer any questions, just comment on the post or drop me a mail, plus if you have yet to subscribe and are reading this please click on the button below.