Five of my best insights on becoming a great marketing consultant

Mark Schaefer
6 min readJul 20

I had the honor of studying under the legendary American management consultant Peter Drucker while I was earning my master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University. To a large extent, this experience helped forge me into a great marketing consultant.

Dr. Drucker was the most brilliant man I’ve known, and this was an extraordinarily impactful period of my professional life. He was one of those few people I’ve met in life who can distill complexity to its essence.

Spending three years under his tutelage literally formed my consulting style and there is not a single week that goes by that I don’t hear his voice in my head. And yet, I realized that I’ve never really talked about those lessons here on my blog.

Today I’ll recount the top five lessons from Dr. Drucker that I think would help anybody become a more effective marketing consultant.

1. The five questions

One of Dr. Drucker’s most famous contributions to management consulting is “the five questions.”

  1. What is your mission?
  2. Who is your customer?
  3. What does your customer value?
  4. What are your results?
  5. What is your plan?

You can’t have a business strategy without knowing the answers to these questions in highly accurate detail.

In my practice, I have evolved these questions to a bit of a shortcut. I ask my customers to complete this sentence: “Only we …” To finish that sentence, you need to know how your mission, your customer, etc.

Most companies cannot answer these questions easily, and discerning the answers is job one, no matter how long it takes.

2. The true job of a great marketing consultant

Dr. Drucker taught via the Harvard Case Method. For weeks, our class would dissect lengthy, detailed case studies to try to get to the bottom of the problems. This taught me to remove the emotion from a business situation and observe it as puzzle with many pieces.

My fellow students were all accomplished leaders and eager to “win” the case study…

Mark Schaefer

Keynote speaker, marketing strategy consultant, Rutgers U faculty and author of 10 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Belonging to the Brand!