March 2020 Consultant of the Month
With an ad agency background, Mitch Larson built his growth marketing and analytics know-how before branching out to join a former colleague last year at their consultancy, Titan 47. Based in Duluth, Minnesota, Mitch loves the freedom to work with a variety of businesses, near or far, while learning how to successfully run his own.
What are you currently working on?
Besides managing paid search and social campaigns, I’ve been doing analytics audits and tag manager/tracking audits. I’m heavily involved in Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and getting into the analytics infrastructure of a business. I make sure they’re collecting data in the right way. I work with clients to build measurement systems, ranging from simple marketing reporting to complex, integrated views across many systems.
Mitch’s Keys To Success
- Improve upon ad agency processes
- Partner with a trusted colleague
- Market combined services to benefit clients
- Continually learn development skills
- Be well-rounded
In these audits, I’m finding implementations, especially Google Analytics, are fundamentally flawed. Often times, I find a critical error, where the traffic collected or source data is wrong.
Second, most companies are using analytics at a basic level, but there's so much you can do to customize your implementation to your business, including powerful custom dimensions and importing data through the API. It’s a big opportunity that people are missing out on.
Lastly, companies can take advantage of Google Analytics data within general reporting. For example, looking at a HubSpot dashboard, your campaigns may drive a number of MQLs or SQLs [marketing qualified leads vs. sales qualified leads] for a certain cost. Google Analytics is a great source for diagnosing what's going on with campaigns or understanding why your Cost Per MQL or Cost Per SQL may be going up because it has robust pre-conversion data.
What path did you take to becoming a consultant?
For four years after college, I worked at a digital marketing agency in Duluth called Aimclear. I had a lot of great mentors and worked across paid search, paid social, display, and retargeting channels. Early on, our development team handled tracking and all technical implementations, but I saw an opportunity to take on some of this work to improve the marketing we were doing for clients. It’s really powerful to have a marketing background when branching out into these technical skill sets. Over the years, I continued to learn some of today’s more popular data science skills, including Python, SQL, data warehousing and more, while keeping up-to-date on my analytics and tag management knowledge.
When I was ready to make the jump to consulting, I went into business with my partner, who was already doing consulting as a full stack developer and designer. Partnering made it easier to transition, giving me runway and immediate cash flow. Also, our skill sets complement each other so it really amplifies the services we offer to clients: development, analytics, and marketing.
"Partnering made it easier to transition... [and] it really amplifies the services we offer to clients."
What do you love about consulting?
Consulting, much like agency work, was an interesting option to me because of the exposure you can get across a lot of businesses and industries. You can immerse yourself, yet not work at the company. With some projects, my role is like a marketing director that can do whatever it takes to grow the business.
When an agency is hired to do paid search, the business is hiring a team. In consulting, they’re hiring me to do their marketing, not everything behind an agency’s brand. You really know a consultant’s background. You’re guaranteed a certain level of experience. With agencies, sometimes you don't know who's actually on your account.
I was also interested in the flexibility of working from anywhere and at a more relaxed pace. I like having control of my time.
What has been your biggest challenge about being a consultant?
The hardest thing has been to keep the sales cycle going. It's easy to get booked for three to six months and be slammed that entire time. You don't have time to focus on, “What am I going to be doing after these projects end?” There’s more ebb and flow. I am still learning how to manage it.
How do you market yourself?
One channel is through EM Marketing, but we mainly get referrals from people in our network or whom we’ve worked with before, and it keeps compounding. It seems to always work itself out.
What are the things you like to do when the work slows down?
In my spare time, I like working on interesting development projects, such as automating a process or enhancing my development skills. We also have a few SaaS model products in the works that keep us busy.
Otherwise, I like to kitesurf, especially now that I have the flexibility to go whenever the wind and waves are good. Duluth is at the western-most point of Lake Superior, where there’s a seven-mile-long sandy beach called Park Point. The water is shallow with inconsistent, messy wave breaks, which makes for really fun kiteboarding. On nicer days, I go mountain biking. There's a lot of rocky elevation around the north shore of Lake Superior with many miles of great single track trails.
Where do you work?
Technically, I can work from anywhere I want at any time. Since I have a new baby and a couple of Golden Retrievers at home, I try to get out of the house quite a bit.
What’s one tip you would give to new consultants?
Being well-rounded is important. If you move from an agency, you may be used to having a support team. In consulting, you have to do everything yourself, including communication with the client, channel management, and reporting.