don’t pay the consultant man… until he gets you to the other side


It was late at night on the world wide web,
Facebook had our brand on the run,
Little time had we spent preparing for this journey;

He is closer now that the rules have changed,
But he’s reading from a map undefined,
He wants us to pay his bill,
And in return he’ll promise to deliver.

But when the engagement numbers came down,
We heard our CEO howl,
There were voices in the night, “Don’t do it!”
Voices out of sight, “Don’t do it!
Too many brands have failed before,
Whatever you do,

Don’t pay the consultant man,
Don’t even fix a price,
Don’t pay the consultant man,
Until he gets you to the other side”

In the new media mist, then he gets on board,
Now there’ll be no turning back,
Beware that bearded hipster at the rudder,
And then our newsfeed flashed, and our fan-base roared,
They were calling us out in shame,
And dancing memes that jabbered and a-moaned
On our wall.

And then the consultant man said,
“There’s algorithm trouble ahead,
So you must pay me now,” “Don’t do it!”
“You must pay me now,” “Don’t do it!”
And still that voice came from beyond,
“Whatever you do,

Don’t pay the consultant man
Don’t even fix a price,
Don’t pay the consultant man,
Until he gets you to the other side;

Don’t pay – the consultant man!”

We need to talk about your outsourcing…


You’re outsourcing too much. You’ve made, and are making, unnecessary payments to others for those simple tasks which you need performed repeatedly. You know the sort: basic image manipulation for a branded social media banner or post; adding, amending or deleting content from your website; analytics reporting (to name just a few). It seems like an easy out but it’s counter-productive for both you and your business:

It’s a mystery
It looks complicated and it’s not. Because of your triple-digital IQ and open mind we can teach you how do all of this stuff within minutes or hours – with the same ease your consultant/ agency learnt how to do it. Better still, get your agency to show you how any of it’s done next time rather than getting them to parachute it into you directly.

No feel for the tools
“But you never asked us for that.” You’ll hear that after discovering a new tool, application or process all by yourself and then asking your agency why they never offered it to you as an option. When you play with the tools yourself you get a feel for them and their wider application (because you don’t know what you don’t know).

Life in the slow lane
In the time it takes to communicate your requirement you could have done it yourself (really). And get it the way you wanted it the first time before your brief was misinterpreted.

The axe
Lots of little costs =  one big cost. One day you’ll announce “Let’s cut this big cost.” i.e. axe this consultant/ agency. Then a bunch of small but important things will stop getting done because neither you or anyone else  internally knows how to do any of it (most of the internet’s stale websites have gone down this path).

The fun police
Don’t be your own fun police. Get hands-on with the tools – YOU’LL LIKE IT. You may even decide to set up your own consultancy once you work out how simple it is, how much fun it can be, and how many people are willing to pay easy coin to get others to do it for them.


Tactics before Strategy (the web demands it).


I’ve trained hundreds of business professionals over the years on how to use the internet. My focus has been on stripping away the mysteries of the underlying mechanics – I believe that mastery of the foundation building blocks enables organisations to establish a meaningful online infrastructure. Yes, strategic insight is another requirement, but any strategy without the ability to implement it at a tactical level will be compromised.

I’ve also observed that strategies often fail, social media ones in particular, because organisations over-reach their technical and resource capabilities. They have too little hands-on experience to be able to estimate the input requirements – time and money (mostly time) against their expectations of a reasonable return. Understanding the tactical in’s and out’s helps in the formation of a realistic strategy.

If you don’t play with the web – roll in it, push it, pull it and get your hands dirty, you’ll have difficulty appreciating  the different scales of difficulty vs. reward – is it just as easy and productive to build up a video library as it is to build up a community on Twitter? Is is easier to elicit online reviews or Facebook Likes and which gets more visibility? Is a blog post that takes an hour to write more or less valuable than a 2 minute LinkedIn status update? People will readily offer their opinions on what do do and what not to do when it comes to social media, but until you’ve attempted to do any of these things yourself how can you get your arms around any ROI calculation?

When you outsource online marketing and social media functions you’re bypassing those valuable experimentation and observation experiences. So roll your sleeves up and get a little dirty – the internet Gods will applaud you.

image by brewbooks


How I Found a Great Freelance Graphic Designer in Ukraine


Viktor is a freelance graphic designer based in Ukraine. He’s good. I’ve known him for over 2 years now and I use his services regularly. His hourly rate is $US20/hr.

I have no philosophical issues with outsourcing to people in foreign lands. As a small business owner it makes perfect sense. I try and use freelancers for all of my core business functions – the notion of organising payrolled staff into a traditional office environment seems bizarre to me now.

There are many ways to find good freelancers around the world (or locally). I found Viktor through 99 Designs when I ran a competition for a new logo. He didn’t win the competition, but I liked his portfolio. I emailed and asked if he was up for freelancing work and he said he was.

Viktor usually responds within 48 hours with the first drafts of a new project. He itemises his hours on a Google Drive spreadsheet we share, and I pay him by international transfer about once a month. PayPal would have been a preferable payment option (saving me a $20 international transfer bank fee), but PayPal doesn’t operate in Ukraine. Language is not a problem – he uses Google Translate, and I make sure my communications are free of slang or jargon. All good.

But if you’re thinking of utilising the services of international freelancers, here are a few lessons I’ve learnt from setting up my own virtual workforce:

Kiss a Few Frogs
You won’t find great freelancers straight out of the gate. You’ll might go through 2-3 duds to find your guy. Assign a few small projects initially and if you’re not happy with the quality move on quickly. 

Rarely Right the First Time
Be comfortable with more project iterations than you’re probably use to. Differences in language and culture, and a lack of face-to-face contact can lead to interesting first interpretations of a brief.  I usually let Viktor throw anything together as a first draft, and then I use that as a core reference for what I want more and less of.

Pay Above the Standard
I pay Viktor a premium – $20/hr instead of his standard rate of $12/hr. It means he bumps my jobs ahead of his other clients. An extra $8 is not that big a deal to me, but it makes a big difference at the other end.

Pay Quickly
I pay Viktor within 24 hours of his invoice. He knows that the sooner he completes my work the sooner he’ll get paid. As in right away.

Relationship Building
I send Viktor a little extra at Xmas time for his two boys. And occasionally we chat about stuff not at all related to the job at hand. He’s like a staff member when you think about, and he deserves the same respect.

Jealously Protect Your Network
If you find a good freelancer or two be wary about giving their details to your friends. I did this once and the guy became so popular he ran out of time to do my work. Let your friends go out and kiss their own frogs on the way through.


Image by DBduo Photography