Trailblaze & Grow Month: November 2017

Pivot Hard: Why Decisiveness Leads to Better Partnerships

As a CEO or founder, you have spent years working long hours to make your company a reality. Subsequently, you know the ins and outs better than anyone else, which is why it can be hard to fully rely on your newly hired consultant.

After hiring an outside specialist, it is natural to feel like it will take at least several months to get him or her up to speed before you can trust any input and advice. However, a lengthy waiting period can prove to be a detrimental mistake.


Act Now

Do not doubt yourself. If you are confident in your hiring decision, then the consultant will have valuable input and advice on day one. The ideal hire should come with an impressive pedigree and demonstrate the ability to spearhead marketing strategies that drive results. Your job is not to question the value of these strategies; it is to determine whether they are feasible to undertake with your company’s resources.

There are high risks when it comes to waffling and keeping all available strategies on the table. Either a competitor can beat you to the punch, or you can end up losing valuable time. In some cases, you might completely miss the boat on a marketing opportunity.


Here are three situations that can be avoided by being more decisive:

1.  Driving in the Slow Lane
It is quite common for clients to spend some time debating the positioning strategies that we recommend. In one instance, however, a client went overboard. In the time it took the client to think over our suggestions, the competition got a ton of media coverage and made waves while our client was left in the dust. Three years later, the competitor enjoyed a phenomenal exit. In the meantime, our client was in the process of pivoting to a new market.

Consultants use their expertise to pick the strategy that best aligns with the goals of your company. There is nothing wrong with thinking things over, and it is critical to fully understand how to implement the strategy. At some point, though, you will have to trust your consultant’s recommendation.

2.  Time Well Wasted
In a particularly memorable instance, a client was not hitting its numbers, so the company decided — against our recommendations — to replace its SEO agency. When the client transitioned, traffic began to plummet, and the downward trend only continued as the remaining individuals spent more time on fire drills and finding ways to look busy and valuable.

Afterward, we were able to use data to illustrate that the failure came from the affiliate program. The client needed to reallocate resources, and it took three months for us to regain the SEO losses. Initially, the company balked at our advice because we had not yet gained an understanding of the intricacies of its organization. What the client failed to realize, though, was that metrics-based business decisions remain consistent regardless of the organization.

3.  Missing the Boat
When opportunities come knocking, be ready. We had a client prepped for an opportunity to appear in The Wall Street Journal. When the business leaders got involved, they decided to change the direction of the story to what they thought would be “something more interesting.” After the change, they stalled and demanded a “better” reporter, and they refused to answer questions they thought were uninteresting. Following a few interviews, we lost the feature article, and the reporter moved on to a different story.

Throwing away an opportunity because it is not perfect is like sabotaging your big break before it even starts. Keep in mind that opportunities are rarely perfect, so take the ones that come along and use them to their full extent.


Trust your consultant. After all, you made the decision to hire him or her. However, blind trust can be just as harmful as a lack of trust. To avoid this, ask for data and qualitative backup for recommendations, and stay in the loop. While it is tempting to think you can gain amazing insights on your own by reading 800-word articles online, your consultant has a thorough knowledge of his or her expertise area. And you know your company best. With those powers combined, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve together.

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Photo by Nicholas_T on / CC BY