June Consultant of the Month
Maggie Colby has worked with tech companies such as Intuit, Intel and Autodesk. Juggling responsibilities in senior marketing roles, she had hired consultants to do the “fun” work and realized that’s what she’d rather do. Consulting allows her to run her own small business, growing grapes commercially in Napa Valley.
What are you currently working on?
Maggie’s Keys to Success
- Clarity about what she loves to do
- Growing and maintaining her network
- Following previous clients to new companies
- Creating her own passion project
I have been working at Bill.com to improve prospect conversion. Messaging is a fundamental part of product marketing, because you want the right words to resonate with the customer and motivate them to take action. We’re doing a lot of testing around messaging and various acquisition channels.
Why did you decide to become a consultant? What path did you take to become a consultant?
The main reason is that I love product marketing, and marketing in general. As an employee, I had hired a consultant or two because I got so busy managing my responsibilities. I discovered that I had offloaded what I considered to be the really fun projects. After that experience, I decided to switch over to being a consultant. As a consultant, I find you can focus on your expertise and craft. It's a more in-depth and pure experience.
What do you love about consulting?
I enjoy the content of the work and problem solving. Being able to go in and quickly make an impact with a client is extremely satisfying. As a full-time employee, the impact you make might take much longer. Managing a business line or a group of people is important to the business, but it takes a lot of time. You’re often doing a hundred and one different things, many of which are not as enjoyable as the marketing projects.
What was your favorite project to work on or work you are most proud of? Why?
I really enjoyed working for a manufacturer of fitness equipment in the early days of the Internet of Things. Their idea was to easily monitor your workouts, physical therapy appointments, or any prescriptions given by your therapist, physicians, or fitness instructor.
It was a real product marketing challenge, starting with customer segmentation to understand interest in the concept and who that target audience would be. We worked with the engineering team and I hired a user experience group to build out prototypes. Then I took it out to customers to gain real in-the-field reaction to the concept. It covered the whole product marketing gamut.
How do you market yourself?
I'm fortunate enough at this point in my career that I have a very large network of professional colleagues. In spite of using every marketing tactic available for my clients, I find that word-of-mouth is still the best marketing tool. I keep in touch via email, an occasional conference or LinkedIn. Sometimes a client will leave their company and go to a new one, and they'll call me with a project.
What are the things you like to do when the work slows down?
I love to travel and I look forward to doing that again as things open back up. I love to ski, bike and hike — anything outdoors. The last fun place I traveled to was Colombia, a really beautiful country with amazing mountains and a fascinating culture. I also have a lot of family on the East coast, so when possible, I like to spend time with them.
What are tips you would give to new consultants?
Don't panic if you're in between gigs. My experience has been that the gigs always come. So, if you have that in-between time, take advantage of it, because once you start a new project, usually there's not that much free time available.
Definitely keep up with your network. Honestly, these days it doesn't have to be in-person, even without COVID. LinkedIn or email is great. Don't hesitate to contact someone you haven't been in touch with for a few years, because usually people are really pleased to hear from you.