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What is a Strategy Consultant?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated: Jan 28, 2024

Strategy consultants are consulting experts who assist companies in finding answers to nagging questions regarding the future activities of the business. An effective strategy consultant can work with the client to assess the current status of the consumer market and determine if the time is right to move forward with such projects as acquiring a competitor, restructuring the corporate organization, launching a new product line, or engaging in a major new public relations campaign. In this application, the consulting focuses on the possible outcome of any given strategy assuming it were implemented within a current set of circumstances.

While there are exceptions, a strategy consultant is likely to work closely with the management team of a business. One of the main reasons for this working relationship is that management is usually focused on the broad task of maintaining and growing the company, while department heads and employees tend to focus on specific functions within the business. Working with the leaders who see the big picture makes it much easier to quickly access all relevant information and determine if a given approach is really in the best interests of the company.

It is not unusual for a strategy consultant to ask a lot of questions as part of the evaluation process. What has caused the company to wonder if a given strategy would be in the best interests of the company? Would the strategy involve outsourcing functions that are currently handled in-house? How would outsourcing one or more functions impact the overall function and morale of the employee force. Is the time right for this strategy to begin, or are there other events that should occur first? These and other questions will often influence both the form and the counsel that the strategy consultant will offer to his or her clients.

As with many types of consulting work, a strategy consultant must possess several skills that are essential when working with a diverse range of clients. The consultant must be well-schooled in the art of communication, have the ability to accurately evaluate information and make feasible projections for the outcome of specific courses of action, and exhibit enough creativity and vision to see all the potential strategies that would ultimately benefit the customer. Along with these skills, the strategy consultant should have a solid educational and work background that is relevant to the consulting jobs that are accepted. When all these elements are in place, the individual has an excellent chance of becoming an extremely successful strategy consultant.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By geekish — On Sep 10, 2011

@kaboom - I would wonder if one bad call would do it to end a strategy consultant's job. I think that one bad call might not necessarily end it because in business it is often difficult to attribute failure to profit to one decision, so I wonder if the strategy consultant can get "off the hook" secondary to that.

I would think that being a marketing strategy consulting position would be interesting because it combines business and consumer psychology.

I love watching commercials or looking at print ads and realizing that the ad was so well done in the placement of the ad, the amount of times I have seen the ad, that it has caught my attention. Not saying I would buy the product, but it makes it more likely.

By everetra — On Sep 10, 2011

@hamje32 - You should have submitted your paper to the restaurants – perhaps they would have hired you!

I agree that there are a lot of questions you can ask in conducting strategic consulting. In our business, one question would be, continued specialization or diversification?

We develop software for the utility industry. It’s a very specialized market and we’ve almost saturated it.

We ask ourselves, what happens when there are no more utilities to sell to? Do we continue to target this market, and up sell some new products to them, or perhaps diversify in other, but similar, industries like oil and gas?

These are the questions that we are asking right now. We haven’t hired an official consultant to ask these questions for us; they seem to be staring us in the face. Perhaps if we are ready to diversify, we’ll hire an insider from the gas and oil field who will help steer us in that direction.

By hamje32 — On Sep 10, 2011

@NathanG - Yeah, business strategic planning sometimes involves making radical decisions if you want to go forward and make a profit.

In my marketing course in college we were introduced to the concept of SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. These were the four important variables that you had to consider when making a strategic analysis of your business for profitability and success.

We had to get together with a team of other students and write a paper analyzing a particular industry, analyzing key players and using the SWOT analysis to conduct a strategic analysis for each business.

We chose the fast food industry (college students knew that industry well) and analyzed the major burger establishments. We were able to figure out why some restaurants were doing better than others and make recommendations on paper about how the laggards could improve their market position.

By NathanG — On Sep 09, 2011

I worked in the telecommunications industry for quite some time. As you may know, the industry took a beating and many small companies were forced to fold.

We faced our own pressures; there was high turnover among residential customers. It became a constant battle to lure – and retain – customers by offering them even lower rates per minute on their calls, cutting our profits to the bone.

After a big meeting with some marketing strategy consultants who happened to be insiders in the industry, the company made an immediate change. Going forward, it would no longer sell to residential customers.

That sent shock waves throughout the company. We made it clear however that we would continue to service existing customers until they left through attrition.

However, we would no longer attempt to attract new residential customers. Instead, we focused on small to medium sized business accounts. That strategy was more profitable, and worked well for us.

By SZapper — On Sep 09, 2011

@KaBoom - Strategy consulting jobs certainly do sound stressful. I imagine anyone who goes into that field would probably have a pretty broad knowledge of business and marketing though. After all, would a company really hire someone for a job like this that wasn't credible?

Despite the stress, I bet this job is actually pretty neat. Imagine being able to go into a company, really look at the big picture, and help them with their future plans! I'm sure it's really rewarding to help business and companies achieve success!

By KaBoom — On Sep 08, 2011

Strategy consultancy sounds like an extremely high-powered field. I'm sure companies plan big moves on the advice of a strategy consultant and probably make most of the smaller decisions themselves. So if the strategy consultant made a bad recommendation, I imagine the results would be disastrous!

Obviously, a business would suffer from taking bad advice. But I bet a strategy consultant's career could probably be ended by one bad call. Imagine if they recommended a strategy to a company that ended up going bankrupt after taking the advice? I doubt any other big companies would consider hiring that consultant!

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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