I’ve had the wonderful benefit of networking with a multitude of consultants, and believe that whether we simply shared a hand shake or were involved in a more detailed conversation, all interactions have taught me something. We all work differently, have our own styles, and most important of all, our own unique philosophies.
Unfortunately, I’ve also met a few consultants that operate with the attitude that comes from what they can do, not what their client really needs. Those interactions have even caused me to change the description of what I do from visual merchandising/marketing consultant to a provider of visual merchandising and marketing support. You might think this is just semantics, but I see it differently.
The core foundation of my business comes from believing that the business owners I work with are the experts when it comes to understanding their own businesses, and they are hiring me to help them take their vision to the next step. In some ways my involvement is purely the fertilizer for their dreams, the one who helps grow an idea or who helps them gain confidence in their own unique creativity.
I am asked from time to time what standards I set or what my basic visual merchandising training and education looks like, and if there are some generic materials that businesses can use. And, of course, I have presentation materials and articles that are valuable, but, and this a very important but, in my opinion, creating a visual merchandising and marketing plan that works for one does not necessarily work for another. There is no one-size-fits-all set of standards, though there are certainly good starting guidelines and practices that work for most.
Store owners and store managers understand the challenges of their business the best. They know what they want. They know what their challenges and opportunities are, and they are deeply invested in the outcome. Our job as consultants is to help them transcend those desires into reality by providing skill sets that empower, not enslave.
When I work myself out of a job directly because of a successful collaboration with a client, then I know I have succeeded in the manner I most desire. I set out on each partnership with the goal of empowering whoever I work with with the knowledge that drives their potential for success.
We consultants have a wonderful ability to help people reach their dreams. I believe we need to remember there is more than one path that can lead to business growth, and we should never forget that we are there not to enact our own dreams or show superiority, but to provide respectful guidance that meets our client’s personal and professional needs. That is where the best reward lies.