When we think of ‘middle men’ (or women) in a business context, insurance brokers and financial advisers may spring to mind. For some, the instant reaction to the ‘piggy in the middle’ scenario can be somewhat negative – ‘it’ll cost me more you may say’ or ‘can I trust them to act in my best interests’ you may wonder.
But consider middle men and women such as accountants and solicitors, these professionals act as intermediaries between individuals and financial or legal bodies and can be very handy to have around to keep you out of trouble or get you out of it! Therefore having an expert advisor to call upon may cost you more but could save you even more in the long run!
The same principles apply to marketing consultants – without proper advice prior to and during delivery of a project the wrong solutions may be implemented which can prove costly.
When I think about the jobs I’ve been doing over the last few years since embarking on a career as a self-employed Digital Marketing Consultant (and limited company owner), I often find myself being a ‘Middle Woman’ for my clients and partner organisations who appoint me. Here’s some examples of when I wear my ‘Middle Woman’ hat.
Networking & Connecting People
I’m a member of various business networking groups including The Business Network Banbridge and Newry Junior Chamber and also deliver voluntary marketing activity for them. Within these roles, I help to organise and promote events that connect people to others who can help them in aspects of their work and life. I’m sure many of us are good connectors.
SME Business Mentoring & Training
I mentor on various council run business support programmes designed to help SME business owners develop and grow their enterprises. When a representative from the council identifies a client with a digital marketing project they require guidance on, I am appointed to advise, train and offer practical support to the client. Often the role will involve spending some of the hours’ assigned conducting research, analysing data and working on strategy development activities, whilst reporting back to the client and the programme manager. (Mentoring is often at no cost/low cost to the client as the council and its programme funders pick up the tab, so if you’re an SME talk to your local authority’s Economic Development Officer or subscribe to their mailing list to be kept up to date with opportunities as they arise.)
Website Copywriting Projects
I previously worked in a web design agency and continue to work with various web designers regularly, so I feel their pain when they’ve designed a beautiful website for a client but have been waiting months (even years!) to put it live as the client still hasn’t provided the content – I become the middle woman they call upon to help them solve this problem by working with the client and writing the content for them. This is a great solution for both parties.
Digital Strategy Development & Delivery
Some clients ask me to assist them to develop a digital marketing strategy for their business and provide ongoing support to roll it out or train a team member to deliver aspects of it in-house. There are aspects I can cover myself (content marketing is my speciality – coming up with the ideas, writing blog articles, creating email campaigns, social media posts, website copy, writing video scripts etc.) and there are other tasks that I have a good working knowledge of such as web and graphic design but need additional experts to assist with practical delivery. Being active in my industry sector means that I can often identify suitable partners for clients quicker than they could do so themselves.
Digital Project Management
I’m also fairly good at organising people and activities and increasingly find myself in a project management role. Here I act as the link between the client and all other parties involved in the delivery of the project. The clients will come to me to translate what the web designer is telling them because they don’t understand the lingo. The in-house employee or junior assigned to roll out some elements of the strategy to keep costs down will come to me for guidance and support to keep him or her on the right track because it’s new to them. The graphic designers, web designers and video producers will come to me for project briefs and clarification on what is required from them because I’ve written the strategy and understand their processes better than the client does. I also make sure all parties are aware of their responsibilities and deadlines. Here I fulfil the role of a Digital Project Manager.
I feel that more and more there is a need for middle men/women in project teams to ensure consistency and continuity in delivery. All too often I see projects that never reach the top of the priority list for an in-house manager, director or team member – not because they don’t understand their importance and want to take them forward, but simply because he/she has too many other challenges to deal with. I sympathise because I experience the same challenges when running my own business!
If you are planning to launch a digital marketing project to promote and grow your business online, my advice is to consider budgeting for and hiring/appointing ‘middle men/women’ such as digital project managers, freelance creatives or data analysis consultants to your delivery team. If these roles are not factored in at the outset of the project, projects can become much more expensive than originally anticipated or even start to unravel altogether.
More often than not the benefits outweigh the costs – do you agree? In the absence of a suitable individual in-house with the time to commit to the task, would you hire a freelance consultant like me to fulfil such a role?
Denise Cowan is a Digital Marketing Consultant based in Northern Ireland, specialising in digital strategy, marketing project management, content marketing and copywriting. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss anything you’ve read in more detail. Also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.