I’m JAKE LUNNISS, a PRODUCT MARKETER working with startups and independent businesses.
After 10 years I’m still in an ongoing journey of developing my expertise and helping start-ups and individuals create meaningful businesses
There’s a meme I saw years ago which made me chuckle enough that I still remember it. The caption read:
Consulting: if you can’t be a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made prolonging the problem.
While amusing, there are definitely consultants who see clients as an opportunity to make money rather than an opportunity to do good work.
A lot of clients have been surprised at how much implementation I do when working with them (and after nearly a decade I’m still surprised that they’re surprised).
Most consultants, it seems, think they’re just there to point out things people should be doing, like they possess the world’s most acute 20:20 hindsight.
“You should be investing in SEO to rank higher in google…
“You should add a landing page to your ad campaign flow…
“You should have an automated follow up sequence for all your enquiries…
It might seem like I’m casting the first stone, but I’ve been guilty of this before – those three “shoulds” are probably something I’ve said verbatim in the past. Probably more than once.
There’s a saying that’s in marketing that I like to trot out with pretty much anyone who will listen: show, don’t tell.
Don’t just tell me your coffee is ethical, show me.
Don’t just tell me your customers are satisifed, show me.
And this applies to consulting, too.
Don’t just tell me to invest in SEO: show me how.
Don’t just tell me to build a KPI dashboard: show me an example of one.
Don’t just tell me to have a dedicated landing page, show me how that would look.
Don’t just tell me I need testimonials on product pages, show me where they would go.
There’s an inevitable knowledge gap between a consultant and their client. Firstly, you wouldn’t hire me if you have all the answers.
But secondly, there’s a vast amount of what I call “back of brain” awareness that comes with experience. And after nearly 10 years, that adds up to a lot of intuitive understanding of nuance that clients simply don’t have.
When I make a simple recommendation to “implement a dedicated landing page” your back of brain awareness automatically fills in the gaps and glosses over a huge amount of detail that I already just know. My mind’s eye sees the whole picture. But the person receiving the recommendation – the client, you – may have none, or very little, of this knowledge. And so all you see in your mind’s eye is a series of blank spaces and question marks.
The more complex the problem, the worse this becomes. Saying something like “you should invest in SEO” to a consultant might seem elementary, but to you the client it can feel like staring up at the north face of the Eiger.
The kind thing – nay, the expert thing – is to visualise suggestions for your clients.
If I suggest aggressively targeting SEO, a three page slide deck on the very basics of on-age SEO and linkbuilding will be enough to help show you what I mean.
If I suggest a dedicated landing page, a simple wireframe with elements in place will be enough to show them how it fits into the bigger picture.
I naturally started doing this over the years because I tend to hover in that uncomfortable area between front-end and back-end – able to speak human, and able to speak computer, too. And so some of the topics we end up discussing are naturally complex enough that the need to visualise and explain is self-evident.
But I started doing this with everything, and it made a huge impact on my clients
Firstly, it closes the knowledge gap. Many consultants, I suspect, want their clients to not understand. They want to come across like the gatekeepers of magic, that only they can be the conduit for. But long term this is fatiguing for clients and leads to frustration. And the last thing I want is a frustrated client.
Secondly, it encourages discussion. Nothing great was ever created in a vacuum, and even though I’ve been hired to fix a problem, the solution will be a magnitude greater if I can close the knowledge gap enough to facilitate a discussion everyone can be involved in.
Thirdly, this discussion allows for a greater sense of ownership from the team. One day I’ll be gone but my solutions will remain, and it’s important to leave behind a legacy of ownership so that those solutions remain effective when I’m gone.
As Casey says, anyone can download a plugin. That’s not creativity. Anyone can make an automated campaign that’s too complicated. That uses too many tags. That has backwards arrows going all over the place. It looks the part, but too many features means too many points of failure. And figuring out what went wrong can be all but impossible.
Creating the same system using the barest possible minimum so that anyone can look at it and understand is hard. It takes years and years of practice.
So this is my philosophy: make it so simple, anyone can look at it and understand. There’s an elegance in bare simplicity. There’s security in using the minimum features. It costs less to build, and it costs less to maintain. Which means you get the maximum possible return on your investment.
And above all, that’s what a good business system should be: an investment with a spectacular return.
I guess my mission, if I was to put it in those terms, is to create systems for people that are simple. That use the barest possible features. That are easy to use, and easy to maintain.
If you’re planning to move to a system like Infusionsoft, or you have and you’re struggling with it, before you do anything else: ask me first, and do it right the first time.