Starting off as an advisor when you’ve always sold execution work is a big step.
It requires both you and the market to recognize your expertise as having value in and of itself—independent of you being the one to actually implement.
The fastest way to do this, in my view, is to phase into it. To do managed advisory services, where you coordinate the marketing efforts of a company but hire out the actual execution work.
In this case, you produce the effect of an outsourced, highly nimble marketing team. Your client doesn’t have to worry too much, and you’re still cheaper and more agile than hiring their first marketing manager.
The best clients to do this for are those who have never had a marketing manager before. Or, if they did, they no longer have one.
There’s a gap in a lot of businesses around the $3-$10million mark where they can no longer depend on a single agency to do everything, but they can’t justify a full-time marketing hire either.
You can position yourself as a fractional CMO in this role, but truth be told, you’re more like a part-time marketing manager.
You can do this as a step towards selling advisory services, but this should never be your final destination.
It’s taxing and stressful and eventually, your client will wonder why you’re not working even faster, regardless of how much you actually accomplish.
If you don’t time-box the execution work, you’ll eventually be treated the same as an employee. But you’re not an employee, you’re a part-time producer and strategist. Big difference.
So, if you’re having trouble selling pure advisory work, this might be your first approach.
The other way is to focus on a niche/vertical, such that your expertise is even more rare and valuable—and therefore worth paying for independent of your execution work. More on that soon.
The choice is yours, but these are the best two ways I know to get into advisory work.