WTF is a Digital Consultant? And what makes a good one?

When somebody gets in touch with me after coming across my website, they are usually in search of a digital consultant. But their first question after they introduce themselves and their business is often, so how can you help us?

Despite the fact they decided they needed a digital consultant, and made their way to Google to search for one, they still feel the need to ask in what ways they can use a consultant to benefit their business.

Part of that confusion obviously comes from how you define ‘digital’. In many ways it is an outdated describer as the Internet and being connected has infiltrated every part of life as we know it. So, companies can decide they need the help of a digital consultant without being overly clear on what it is they need.

Most businesses just know that they want to generate more via their website. More lead, more sales, more page views, whatever it is their business needs to grow. 

The Varied Role of a Digital Consultant

As a result of this approach and such variety on what services customers will require, the role of a digital consultant can be extremely varied. Depending on what you consider to fall under the banner of ‘digital’ you can end up fielding enquiries about:

  • Website design and development
  • Digital transformation
  • Digital strategy
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Social Media Management
  • Email Marketing
  • Google Ads and Paid Search
  • Paid Social Advertising
  • Email Marketing

And pretty much everything in between.

The V-Shaped Digital Consultant

A few wees ago I did a presentation to a group of recent undergraduate and post graduate students on building a career in digital. In it I introduced the concept of a V-Shaped Digital Marketer.  This is an evolution of the concept of becoming ‘T-Shaped’ which has origins in the 80s and McKinsey.

Being T-shaped means have deep knowledge in a single area and a little knowledge in a number of others.

Being V-Shaped means having more depth on knowledge in a broader range of areas, but a core set of deep knowledge capabilities.

An example for areas typically categorised under the bracket of ‘digital’ is shown below. The left example being somebody who is I shaped, the middle T-Shaped, and the right V-Shaped.

A successful Digital Consultant in my opinion needs to be a V-Shaped individual, who can call on a variety of skills depending on the requirements of the client.  This shouldn’t detract from their deep knowledge in a smaller number of areas, but if they have a broader skillset, they can be more adaptable to the needs of their potential clients.

Areas of Focus as a Digital Consultant

As you become busier and more successful as a digital consultant you can then start to know where your efforts are best focussed. Either through the work you are best suited for, or where you can get the best return on your time. But you still have the other areas to fall back on should a project require it, or you have some gaps to fill in your schedule.

So, you may have deep knowledge in SEO and know that’s where you can add the most value, but a short turnaround Development job comes in which you can turn around and generate income in some down time from your usual work. Or you can advise a client on their development needs in line with your creative jobs that add value and allow you to charge more for the service.

In Summary:

There may be times where having a specialism for your digital consultancy is the right thing to do. When a particular skill comes in high demand and is in short supply being a specialist in that area can come up trumps. But over a long enough period of time having broad skills to call upon as demand dictates, will bring longevity and more success, particularly if you are an individual consultant.

If you have found this post because you are looking for a digital consultant, why not get in touch and I can explain my range of skills.

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