August 09, 2019
Even Mr. Pink Agrees: Go To Market Is Consultant-Worthy
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“I mean, these ladies aren’t starving to death. They make minimum wage. I used to work minimum wage, and when I did… I wasn’t lucky enough to have a job that society deemed tipworthy.” — Mr. Pink, Reservoir Dogs
We all know people like Mr. Pink, the memorable character played by Steve Buscemi in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, who buck conventional wisdom. Sometimes we are Mr. Pink. And Mr. Pinks are sometimes right and sometimes not. And often, as in the movie, a Mr. Pink has a point but is still wrong. Today I’m going to be a Mr. Pink and you, reader, can judge.
“Consulting” is a wide term that spans many industries and activities. Some business needs are almost universally deemed consultant-worthy like selling, buying, or leasing real estate. Few companies, even those that are involved in transactions regularly, eschew real estate consultants, a.k.a. realtors or agents. Developing and maintaining IT infrastructure is generally deemed consultant-worthy. Hiring, especially for key roles, certainly is. Same with website design and creating mass media. But not all forms of business consulting are so deemed.
Go To Market (GTM), devising and executing an effective strategy for offering a product or service to customers, is a crucial responsibility for a company to achieve success; requires specialized abilities; can often be simplified by an experienced outsider; and is frequently an acute need for only a relatively short period of time. That meets or exceeds any reasonable definition of “consultant-worthy”, right? Well, this Mr. Pink thinks so but many businesspeople do not. Many, maybe even most, businesspeople see GTM as something their business must do for themselves (or die trying). The parenthetical is never stated, but surely it’s implied, albeit subconsciously.
I’ve heard this expressed at both ends of the C-suite. From the CEO and CFO I hear that “it’s our product or service and these are our customers — we sure as heck need to be capable of effective GTM in-house.” And from the CMO and CSO I hear “we have the resources and expertise to execute our ongoing marketing and sales operations”, and the honest ones add, “but not to do GTM right — especially on new or struggling offerings or merged portfolios”. Many CMOs and CSOs believe it’s risky to admit that GTM may be more than they can handle with their existing team. CFOs don’t seem to worry what it says about their organization when they hire a realtor to sell their building. CEOs and Heads of HR don’t hang their heads at the thought of hiring a recruiter to fill a key role. So why is it so different for GTM and CMOs/CSOs?
A good Mr. Pink is provocative, so here goes. The other examples of consultant-worthy needs — real estate, IT, hiring, creative design — are respected fields of technical expertise in which qualifications and experience are well-understood and highly-valued. Effective GTM is highly sophisticated. It requires experienced strategic thinking, cutting-edge best-practices expertise, and deep and broad industry knowledge. But . . . almost none of that comes with a certificate like a real estate license or a software certification. In addition, GTM is a bespoke process: everything a GTM consultant has ever done previously will be meaningfully different than what your company currently needs. It can seem to some like hiring David Beckham’s tailor on the basis of how great his suit looks — on him.
So when it comes to GTM — especially for a new or struggling offering — listen to the final line in the famous dialog from Joe, the boss, to Mr. Pink, “never mind what you would normally do, just cough up [fifteen minutes of your time]” and talk with a proven, experienced GTM consultant. It’s a crucially important job that must be done right. When it is, the ROI is outstanding — and when it isn’t, it can go much like it did for the Reservoir Dogs. Godspeed.
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