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Mitch Larson Talks Consulting, Marketing, and Client Relationships

By Katherine Gustafson

EM’s Third Thursday Talks are casual conversations between EM Founder Ken Chen and EM’s awesome consultants. Ken recently spoke with Mitch Larson, a Minnesota-based consultant who does technically-focused, data-driven marketing work.

The conversation ranged from the best things about consulting to technical tools for growth marketing to what Mitch envisions for the future. Here are a few Q&As from the talk.

What do you like best about consulting?

My favorite thing about consulting is being able to select the type of work that I do and the type of projects I take on. At first, I took any project that came my way. But now I can be a little more selective.

Before I started consulting, it seemed like this really risky thing to do… to go out on our your own, do your own projects, have your own business. But with companies having rolling layoffs over the last few years, consulting feels like a more secure option than just working for a single company. Diversifying across clients feels really secure once you get off the ground.

What tools do you use to simplify the work of growth marketing?

I like to have a really good analytics infrastructure. That is going to be GA4, Google Cloud and Google BigQuery, Google Tag Manager. I’m not that into the more expensive management solutions; they’re getting less valuable over time. Mainly, it’s about what information I can collect and how can I display that back to the customer.

I do a lot of more technical work focused on telling the story through data. I work a lot with Python and SQL, so I do a lot of programming. I use these to access the key data sources I need. I use the technical tools to tailor the whole marketing program. I wrap it all up into one package that’s easy for the client to understand and doesn’t take time for me to pull data.

Are you self-taught in technical marketing?

It’s a combination of traditional learning and self-taught. I’ve always had a more analytical mindset, and my university program in marketing did have a focus on analytics. So, I had a good data analysis foundation coming out of college.

I then met some marketers early on in my agency days and thought what they were putting together was awesome. So shortly after getting out of college, I started learning how to code, how to do SQL queries. That was self-taught; every morning I put in time and kind of made it part of my job.

How do you manage your client relationships in the virtual world? 

Some things I do are a weekly meeting, quarterly reviews of the program, and being available to answer any questions or talk about anything. I look at what they spend a lot of time on and go out of my way to say, “How can I help automate that annoying report that you do?” I build out systems that help make their day more efficient. Then we end up talking about those things.

Where are brands spending on ad platforms? 

Google search, Google Shopping, and Facebook are still very core platforms. I see LinkedIn getting a lot more popular. I’m personally spending more on LinkedIn than I used to. I’m seeing a bit more on TikTok and Pinterest; those are emerging. It’s becoming a little bit more diversified in terms of options, which I really like.

In the U.S., many look at Facebook as being for old people; no one uses it anymore. But I find that it’s becoming a profitable channel because the older demographic — say, over 30 — with disposable income are heavily using it.

Do you have any strategies for winning clients who are wary of your price tag?

It depends on the project. Projects that are more marketing-oriented, I tend to accept a lot of customers that don’t have anything going on. I’ll do scaling contracts with people where I set really low — even negligent — starting rates that grow into something. If I see potential, I can work with them to grow it, and then they’re happy, so it’s win-win.

For analytics projects, it depends on how analytics-savvy the customer is. I try to pay attention to what other agencies and consultants are charging so I don’t just make pricing up.

What do you see for your future?

Work-wise, I would like to keep some level of consulting for a long time. I think that it’s something that really will keep you sharp as you go on in your career: getting that diversity of projects and challenges.

And I’d like to focus on building out a more product-led business. I could see doing that in the short-to-medium term. That would allow me to do more things that I like to do. The whole goal is the go and do more traveling, kiteboard where the wind is good, mountain bike on nice days.

 

Listen to the entire interview to learn more from Mitch Larson.

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About Katherine Gustafson

Katie Gustafson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, focusing on content writing for business, tech, finance, and nonprofits.

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