Consultant or resource: which is which?

Elzy Wright is famous for saying that “a Consultant (or expert) is anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home.”

Funny. And sometimes true. We’ve certainly serve as consultants to some of our clients; and, yes, some of those clients are more than 50 miles from Atlanta. And to be perfectly honest, we both own briefcases, although one looks amazingly like a backpack.

We have nothing but respect for consultants, no matter their field of expertise. People who know what they’re talking about can be an invaluable part of a company’s growth.

But there is another category of expert, and knowing the difference between the two can be a big step toward company growth and your profitability. We’re talking about the “resource.” Put bluntly, sometimes you don’t need to be told what to do; you already know that. What you need is somebody to do it, somebody to execute programs to meet specific goals. That’s what a resource is for.

A client of ours didn’t need to be told he needed a company-wide meeting for all employees. What he needed was for someone to plan and execute the event.

A client with a full range of marketing skills on hand needed a presentation to an important constituency. What should she say? Who would write it? Enter the marketing resource.

A highly experienced marketing resource (yes, like a highly experienced consultant,) can end up saving money, loads of time, and you’ll end up with a better product. The best way to pick a resource is to look for someone who has boots-on-the-ground experience in the area where you need help.

Don’t be put off by the “but these people worked only for big companies” prejudice. That means they have the experience and the knowledge.

Sometimes you’ll need the wise counsel of consultants; sometimes you’ll need the hands-on skills of a marketing resource. And you’ll benefit from knowing the difference.


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