3 min read
25 May


I hate job titles; corporate ones especially can be terribly misleading to everyone. It’s limiting to summarise your professional self in 5 words or fewer. Forms require occupations, profiles require biographies, google needs feeding too, so there’s no escaping the need to find a pithy phrase to sum you up professionally. 

Here are some of the descriptors that I might use for myself, depending on the audience and the situation: 

Freelance marketing analyst
Freelance econometrician
Marketing effectiveness consultant
Econometrics contractor
Independent marketing contractor 

Call me what you like though, I still have the same skillset, strengths, and weaknesses. Changing my function doesn’t mean I can perform it at all well. 

Anyway, I’m already digressing from what I intended to write about today. And that was to outline different purposes that clients hire me for. I only brought in the titles thing to illustrate how reductive and restrictive they can be. 

So much so that I triggered myself into a rant!  

Interim analyst   

Larger agencies often need people in this capacity to backfill between permanent hires, during hiring freezes or to accommodate unplanned wins. Usually, the entirety of a single project is earmarked for a contractor, and everybody keeps their fingers crossed for no delays in getting the data through. 

The advantage of hiring a more experienced hand like mine is that I can fulfil all the roles that a typical agency team is comprised: director, manager, analyst, and data processor. So perhaps actually less resource intensive than a perm team. 

The disadvantage for me can be that although I can play all these roles, I might not have time to do them all justice for the time that I’ve been hired for. In my experience, smaller agencies are better at figuring this out than larger ones. 

There’s also a strong benefit to having more than one pair of eyes on a thing too. Especially when that pair of eyes will be gone soon. My excellent notes are still a poor substitute for having been engaged with the project when it was happening. 

You may have expected me to say that I shouldn’t be doing data processing with my level of experience. When clients have me do this, they are paying over the odds. But I don’t charge a director/manager rate either so it all washes out. 

There’s also value to the people modelling also being the ones preparing the data. Getting up to speed with modelling when I’ve not been involved in the data part takes a bit of time and effort. Skip orientation and you’ll miss something.    

Modeller and storyteller 

Some of my clients deliberately have other people in their organisation handle the data. Some do it because it then automatically gets around the problem of me only being around temporarily. 

Some clients hire me part-time and so the most logical parts of the project to contract out are the more difficult and most time-consuming parts. Alternatively, it might be that it’s the more senior roles where they’re stretched too thin. 

Once the modelling is complete, signed off, numbers crunched and recommendations developed there’s often some sort of deliverable to the end-client. 

As an outsider I’m always fascinated by the different approaches my agency clients have to this part. 

Some are dare I say it boring templated slide decks, but hey ho. Thankfully though many are not, and I love it when I’m tasked with finding an interesting way to illustrate a finding. Even if someone else ends up creating or delivering it.     

External consultant 

My clients here are either agencies themselves working with a business, or a business itself. The key differences to the work I’ve outlined above are: 

  • The clients above come back regularly because they have an ongoing need for interim analytical resource, just a short-term deficit in those skills. They tend to hire me on a day rate basis for a fixed period of time

  • Clients look for external consultants exactly because they have no in-house capability and/or they have a one-off/occasional need for my skills

  • Some clients with no in-house team want to ultimately reach a level of knowledge, understanding and capability where they could form a team

All prospective clients seeking an external consultant would work with me to specify a scope of work and I would charge a fixed fee to deliver the elements.  

Wrapping it up 

In summary there is a wide range of assignments that all fall under the same umbrella of hiring a consultant with a skillset like mine. 

This is one reason why I have persisted working in this way, I can vary the pace and intensity of my paid consulting to suit what’s going on outside paid work. 

It’s one thing to have a skill but it’s entirely another to execute it willingly and enthusiastically. 

If you’d like to know what that might look like, let’s chat

Alternatively, head to the services pages on my website where you’ll see me talk more formally and in more detail. 

© Jo Gordon Consulting Ltd 2023

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