Mike McGrail: My Return to Marketing Consultancy – Day 1

Mike McGrail
Mike McGrail

Well that’s not the catchiest of headlines I’ve ever written, but it does what it says on the tin, right?

That phrase is so overused. I digress. Today marked my first day back in the consultancy ‘game’ after leaving my full-time role last week. Arising this morning, I was feeling a mixture of excitement, nerves and bewilderment at a dream I had about Freddy Mercury and a turban.

It was an atmospheric start to the day…

I dropped my eldest boy off at nursery, it was a rather nippy day and much of Queensferry was shrouded in freezing fog, as this shot of the Forth Road Bridge I grabbed alludes to:

From there, I caught a train into Edinburgh city centre to begin a day of back-to-back meetings with potential new clients. On the way, I made a mental note to buy some thermals. Brass monkeys it was.

Stood up!

Arriving early to the coffee shop, I grabbed a table, ordered a skinny Cappuccino (so middle class right now), snapped the icicle from the end of my nose and waited for my business date to arrive while responding to some emails.

Hark, the person in question failed to arrive. At all. No email to explain. Nada.

I did feel a little deflated, but not for long and made my way to the next meeting venue with gusto. I could regale you with the fine detail of that meeting, however, I won’t. I will say that we had a very interesting chat about networking and its merits and pitfalls (the person I was meeting is a consultant in a different field).

Getting the right balance is essential – there are so many awful events out there, so being very selective is key. As a consultant, every hour you spend at an event is an hour you aren’t billing. I’m going very low key on networking for now, as I feel like there are bigger fish to fry.

After putting the networking world to rights, I wandered outside (still Baltic) and made the short walk to yet another hostelry to have lunch with a prospect. The conversation flowed (as did the Diet Pepsi) and quickly went down the route of ‘added value’.

The chap I was dining with told me about his accountants, and how they run great events for their clients, during which, excellent speakers from across the business spectrum share advice – the best bit? The customer pays nothing extra. Sure, the accountancy firm encourages their customers to bring their contacts who aren’t customers along with them with a view to new business, but that’s great for the customer as they get to take their customers to a nice event. I just broke the world record for using the word ‘customer’ in a terribly constructed sentence.

As a consultant, your raison d’etre (I never was great at Spanish), is to add stupendous levels of value. During this meeting, I asked my companion if they’d like to appear on my Snapchat story. Why? Well, it’s a nice opportunity for them to get some exposure to my audience, but it also makes them think about their business – asking them to distill what the business is and why the owner liked it and asking them to nail it in a max of 36 seconds is a very worthwhile exercise for them. Value added!

From there I had two further meetings, both equally as wonderful as the rest. It was a very exciting day and one that confirmed that my true passion (yes, yes, another overused term) lies in getting to know the people behind a business, the problems they need to solve, and (hopefully!) working together to make sure they get fixed. The result of today’s events? Two new clients (yay!), five brilliant conversations and frostbite.

Remember at the start when I said I’d been stood up? The person did eventually email and call me to apologise. Thanks for that if you’re reading!

Mike McGrail started Velocity Digital in 2012 with the aim of helping businesses of all shapes and sizes understand and make the most of the many opportunities digital marketing offers. He does this by working closely with his clients to deliver truly effective and measurable marketing strategies, while ensuring a creative and innovative approach at all times.