The top 361 reasons to find mentors, not consultants.


OK, that title is my one feeble attempt at April Fool's joke.  Now that it is out of the way:

I had two great meetings with some very successful business leaders in Boulder and it got me thinking about the difference between mentors and consultants.

Since most of the conversations revolved around simplicity of product and messaging, it got me thinking about what my experiences have been as a marketing 'expert' helping others and finding experts to help me.

Therefore, I'm focusing on simple product and messaging part...the technology part will come in part 2 of this post.

Ironically, most marketing consultants (interactive, old-school or both) are the worst examples of their craft's mission: simple communication.

Check out their company websites and they'll have a laundry list of departments that they can help you with: website? check. logos? check. direct mail? check. "viral" anything? check. strategy? check, check check. wrapping it all into one tight bundle? check.

Where to begin? With ALL of them, of course!

The problem is that rarely do these consultants work with your best interest in mind.  Rarely do they say "wait, let's back up and start with the core message" because it isn't in their best interest to force you to be disciplined.  It is in their best interest for you to expand your message into 15 different mediums right away.  Rarely do they say "maybe its your product?" or "maybe we should start out simply?".

Don't get caught in this trap of thinking that you need to spend away your core messaging problems with more mediums.  Don't get caught into the trap of thinking that a consultant has your best interest in mind (although there are some great ones out there I'm sure).

DO find mentors who will shoot you straight and have a vested interest in seeing you do less, but better.  Why?  Because they're busy and can only help simple problems and follow ups are easier when you're both on the same page.  Often they will offer advice that is harder to take, but MUCH more beneficial in the long run.

Thank you @msitarzewski and @billflagg for giving me the advice that is harder to take, but easier to act upon.