5 Phases of Consulting Process

I'm often asked by potential clients how I will work with them to get a specific result -- for example, improve distribution in a particular region, gain more media recognition, or improve overall sales. Some people are surprised that my approach to brand development/launch and turn around projects is always the same, even though the individual client needs may be quite different.

Delivering superior client ROI is my goal, so the approach I take to achieving it is very important. After a few years in practice, I'm confident that the Institute of Management Consultant's five phase scientific approach is the best out there. (In January, I began an intensive six month course, which is the first step to achieving the Certified Management Consultant designation recognized in 43 countries and awarded to less than one percent of practicing consultants.) It reflects the methodology I've developed as a brand champion over the years and my belief that marketing-driven wineries are more competitive in today's overly crowded market place.

I begin each engagement with the Entry phase, where I meet with a potential client to learn as much as possible about the company vision, goals, issues and concerns. This is also when I ask a series of questions to assess potential mutual fit and gain an understanding about the scope of the project. Next I deliver a proposal outlining goals, deliverables, scope and fees.

Assuming a contract is signed, the next phase, Diagnosis, begins. In this important research-focused period, I gather data using surveys and informational interviews to assess winery strengths and challenges. Then present a report synthesizing these findings and outlining areas for opportunity and challenge, as well as recommended direction.

The third phase is Action Planning, where I deliver a strategic marketing plan that will guide all winery efforts to achieve the client's goals. This detailed plan outlines the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, why) and how results will be measured.

Sometimes potential clients want me to jump directly to what is the fourth phase, Implementation. (In a few engagements, such as a creating a relatively straightforward website in a more limited project, this is possible, but most integrated marketing communications efforts require the full process.) During implementation, I am typically working with a small team to make sure that what is in the marketing plan gets accomplished.

The fifth and final phase is officially called Termination (I prefer Close or Transition). At this point, I've delivered the project as outlined in the original contract, and either need to transition out or create a new engagement letter.

Operating with a defined process enables me to use best practices, manage expectations, provide realistic timelines and ultimately, deliver results.