She’s been Managing Director of Red Loom since 2018 and offers her expertise based on 25 years of senior leadership experience in B2B Marketing. Her main responsibilities revolve around helping her clients with their corporate and marketing strategy, focusing on customer centricity as the primary driver for sustainable growth.
Q1. Did you always want to become a consultant or did you fall into the role?
Neither I guess… I thoroughly enjoyed leading marketing departments in the UK and globally for over 2 decades. I had a successful but brief consultancy business in 2011, as I got hired by a client of mine. After having my son in 2015, I needed to find a better work/life balance, and was also craving more variety in my day-to-day activities. So I decided to give consultancy another go, and I haven’t looked back since.
Q2. What makes a good consultant?
My 24-year experience across the marketing mix means I can quickly adjust to any project my clients require, whether strategic or operational, short or long term. I’m also dedicated to delivering value at every step, in order to create productive partnerships with my clients.
Q3. Do you feel you manage yourself well or is it a case of ‘the cobbler’s shoes’?
Great question! It can be incredibly difficult to take the time to focus on your own brand when you’re busy delivering projects for your clients. But this represents a vital part of any business, so I strive for balance between project delivery, business management (e.g. finances, operations), and marketing. Of course I need to prioritise my time so some tasks get delayed. As long as my clients are happy, the finances are in order, and I’m part of the conversation, then I can sleep easy.
Q4. Are there enough hours in your day?
This is something I learned throughout my career – there has to be! This means sticking to a schedule, not accepting more work than I can manage, delegating relentlessly, especially those tasks where I add less value. I certainly feel I have more control over my time than when I was in full-time employment, and an undeniably better work/life balance.
Q5. If you could magically stop your clients from making one mistake – what would that be?
Most organisations try to maximise their in-house resources and avoid working with consultants. I’d urge them to think of the times where time and/or skills are an issue with these resources. This happens occasionally and instead of overwhelming their teams with work they can’t handle well, resulting in undue stress, burnout and often unsatisfactory work, leaders shouldn’t hesitate to outsource to consultants. It sounds like a self-serving statement, but it really does make sense when it comes to achieving goals in a timely manner, and often leads to upskilling the team for next time!
Q6. What do you find is the best way to market yourself?
As a marketing consultant, I would obviously advocate for the full marketing mix (in the right proportions), but time and budget tend to be especially limited for consultants. The first step is to make sure you inform your close network – professionals who already know and trust you – about the services you offer. Defining a key customer persona is also useful to make sure you target your outreach accurately and don’t waste any effort. But really the exact marketing mix depends on your business, your clients, the industries you specialise in… I would urge you to back up your efforts with a solid content strategy and thought leadership to build your brand.
Q7. What do you do to unwind?
Now this relates to the “number of hours in the day” question! I do try and take the time to go for walks most days (albeit not in any weather), play with my son, read fiction. I’d like to go back to doing yoga and meeting up with friends… Very soon!
Q8. What advice would you give a starting consultant?
Take the time to set yourself up properly (and give yourself deadlines). It’s so hard to do this later when you’re juggling client work. Create a simple website, set up your company (or sole trader status), sort out your accounting and your processes. Just get the basics in order early and you won’t waste time later.
Also ensure you deliver exceptional services, every time. Client retention will always be more effective than acquisition, and you can’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth in the consultancy world.
Q9. What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’ve got plenty of them… But I try to indulge in moderation. Whether that’s chocolate or wine, and even watching episodes of Life in the Sun while I do my accounts!
Q10. What’s your goal for next year?
I’m passionate about sustainability and I’ve just started a new company that aims to deliver convenient food while caring for animal welfare and the environment. I’m at the beginning of the journey though and I’m still dedicated to my consultancy business and the clients I serve.