I recently had the privilege of interviewing Elizabeth Quintanilla, a marketing consultant and owner of EQ Consultant Group in Austin, Texas. She shared some valuable insights on her path to becoming a marketing consultant and ideas for using LinkedIn to help your career.
What led you to choose marketing as your profession?
What you are great at intellectually doesn’t necessarily match with what you are great at based on your personality. The feedback I always got as an engineer was that I was always around the coffee pot but I got my work done. I am an extrovert and that lends itself to being a marketer.
How has your MBA degree helped you in your marketing career?
One way it helps is by bringing you credibility. Often a technology company doesn’t want to hire an engineer to do marketing unless you have experience as a product manager. Also an MBA helps you learn about finance and operations since as a consultant you get pulled into issues that are not necessarily marketing issues.
What tactics have been most effective for acquiring clients for your marketing consultancy?
It’s different now that I’ve been in business for nearly five years. In the beginning it was a lot of networking and getting in touch with people to let them know what I’m doing now and convincing them to take a chance on me on various projects. Today it actually comes down to referrals from previous clients. I also teach a series of classes guest lecturer. I don’t blog as much anymore because I don’t make the time but at the same time I’m always using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to share ideas and best practices.
I learned that you have recently worked as a virtual Chief Marketing Officer. Can you explain how it works when a company hires a virtual Chief Marketing Officer?
I had to distinguish myself from the graphic designers because people often associate marketing with graphic design. Also, companies may already have a marketing team in place but they’re just not being led appropriately so it’s easier for me to say I will project manage the team and streamline the operations. With one technology client we have set up an agile board of tasks to bring clarity and visibility because people didn’t know what the marketing team did.
You gave an excellent talk on utilizing LinkedIn at Austin’s Career Connects Conference (video here) and there were a lot of great tips on using LinkedIn to grow your online presence. Can you share a couple things that marketers can do to improve their presence on LinkedIn?
Make sure your profile is 100% complete. Please don’t use a glamor shot for your photo because when you’re meeting people, the quickest and easiest way for them to find you is by looking at your photo on LinkedIn. Be active in groups; you’re able to join up to 50 groups. Find the areas that are interesting to you and participate. Read or respond and like or comment. Find the areas that are interesting to you as a marketing manager and at the same time try to stay top of mind with your network. I update LinkedIn every Monday through Friday with useful information.
What books have helped you the most in your career?
Leadership books are great because you’re always going to be part of a team. In terms of marketing books, I’ve enjoyed Brains on Fire. Also, Brand Tattoos which is about creating a unique brand that sticks in your customer’s minds. It’s noisy out there so it’s important to create a valuable positioning statement for yourself. Sometimes you don’t have enough coffee and you just need one of those Dummy books. I also need to understand sales so I’ve read books on negotiations and Getting to Yes so I can understand a sales mentality.
What productivity hacks have you found to help you maximize the efficiency of your limited time?
Hootsuite is how I manage all my social media and I use Nimble for contact management. ContactMonkey provides insights on email campaigns such as what platform people are using. I have a critical to do list and if I accomplish the things on that list it is a successful day.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to start their own marketing consulting business?
I would never discourage someone to start their own business but do it because you want to, not because you don’t like your previous boss. You need to have a drive of service because when you’re a consultant you’re working to improve other people’s businesses. Be prepared to spend as much time learning and staying on top of best practices as you do working because you have to be the leader. You are effectively the CEO and will be running your entire company from taxes to finance.
Note: This article was transcribed from a phone interview.