Is it ok to request a marketing consultant define what their services deliver in terms of bottom line and accountability to that?
I'm struggling to find a consultant to help me with a few marketing, product and business development tasks that will state clearly what kind of return I can expect from their services and be accountable to that. In my work as a coach this is standard practice I am confused.
Yes, the consultant should clearly define what they will do for you and should develop a plan that is within your budget (assuming that it is a reasonable budget). However, as a few people said below, the results are all dependent on implementation. I usually guarantee that the plan is capable of producing results and know this to be true because many clients have executed my plans and report fantastic success.
And, while we provide ongoing coaching or training on the execution process, I've had a few clients who just never get around to the execution stage, who decide to do part of the plan or who modify it altogether. When this happens, a consultant can no longer guarantee predictability or results.
Not Sure why any really solid marketing consultant would not consider a version of this, provided your goals are realistic and the ROI is analytically sound, based on real due diligence on your part.. However; you would likely have to agree on a minimum fee, if the ROI fell short.. Most consultants are going to be careful on a deal like this, because not all the end result will be dependent on their advice. The plan will likely be executed by you and others in your organization. Hope this helps some.
Absolutely! Otherwise how will you define or determine the services they provided have delivered what you wanted and have paid for?
In fact you should get milestones and benchmarks that you will use to measure results by. Otherwise you cannot hold the consultant accountable. I would also suggest that you set clear start and end points for the agreement.
If the consultant(s) you interview are not willing to hold themselves accountable in these ways then do not engage them. These "undefined" agreements linger far too long, are way too expensive and rarely product results.
It can be done but you have to come at it from a buyers point of view. Good luck...
In this industry, there are so many consultants that you don't have to settle for anyone that you don't feel comfortable with. I suggest that you keep searching for the one that makes you feel at ease and can answer all of your questions to a certain degree that makes you good about it.
Absolutely ok. I agree with Dan that there has to be a proviso that the management implement the recommendations made by the consultant.
What does loyalty really mean?
Customer loyalty is a valuable commodity and a loyal customer can pay dividends in more ways than one. But what does loyalty really mean?
Loyal clients and customers are the most valuable assets of a business, and should be treated as such. They stick with a brand even though they have other options because they believe they are being given a better experience, better value and benefits than they would get from other brands. Customers like that are worth their weight in gold, and can usually only be created if they are made to feel they are a business’ number one priority. Here are the top reasons why you should treat them like royalty:
Marketing, advertising and incentivizing is an expensive business, and it costs a business about 5-10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain and sell to an existing one – so catering to your current clients will save you money
They love to do the hard work for you. When a client or customer truly loves what you do, they want to tell people about their positive experiences. These are the consumers who use in-person and online conversations to regularly share and endorse your products and services. In short – these brand advocates are the crucial difference between having average audience interaction and genuine influence. This small yet extremely valuable group of advocates should be highly prized because their support, endorsement and recommendations can not only increase awareness, but they can provide social proof to considerably boost your Google rankings. They engender trust and reinforce your business amongst consumers who are unfamiliar with and new to your brand to drive them to ACTION.
Up and cross-sell strategies are more effective with loyal fans. They trust you, so they are more inclined to be adventurous with their choice of products and services, and they tend to buy for longer, too
Loyal customers spend on average 67% MORE than new ones with repeat purchases – making them high ROI prospects. Research shows that return and repeat purchasers have higher average order values and conversion rates than shoppers with no previous purchase history
They can improve other aspects of your business. Loyal customers are more inclined to freely give genuine, quality feedback that is invaluable for knowing what you’re doing well and what areas need improvement. They can also give insight and ideas for product and service development too – they could be your next big money-spinning inspiration!
Loyalty gives your business the power to endure through a tough economy. When the competition is hotting up and everyone around you is cutting prices, you will stay afloat and keep trading. Why? Because your loyal customers aren’t interested in getting the cheapest price for what they want – they want real value, and that comes with the experience you offer them and the benefits they perceive your products give them, aside from price.
When you have to raise your game, loyal customers will play along. Everyone has to raise prices, whether to combat inflation or just because you deserve a better profit margin. Fortunately as with the previous point, your faithful client base is dependable. Because they perceive that you offer a greater value they will be willing to pay more for a quality product or service Many businesses offer monetary incentives in exchange for people’s loyalty, but maybe they should have indulged their beatnik tendencies, because those Beatles were right – money can’t buy love, and it can’t buy loyalty either.
Discounts = Desperation
No matter how much you dress it up – and even if you pretend to be okay with it – cutting prices hurts. You’ve worked hard on your business, and it’s a real come-down to have to get a whole lot less that you deserve in return. Providing services at a lower cost can be the start of an ugly cycle – to cover the cash shortfall other quick hits are needed, which is the start of a dark, downward spiral that forces you to keep prices low and before you know it you’re in a hole too deep to get out of.
So is there anything else you can do to redress the balance? You guessed it – you have to take something away from your product, and that can be a real blow to quality and integrity.
You might have to reduce the efficiency of your delivery service, or cut down on client aftercare, or strip valuable features away from your carefully crafted offerings, leaving them mutilated and limping. This in itself is bad enough, but consider the consequences… What will your clients think of all this corner cutting? Well, in short – not a lot. These days people are swift to condemn sub-standard products and services, and thanks to the boom in social media they like to do so publicly (it does have its flip sides). Be prepared for a serious dent in your reputation as well as your wallet. Here are some more powerful reasons NOT to discount:
Prioritizing growth over profit means your business runs a significant risk of never reaching profitability.
You will need a substantial cash buffer to stay afloat if you’re going to vastly discount your products – and that can be difficult to come by for most small businesses.
If you offer lower prices you have to make up for the shortfall by working harder than your competitors to make the same amount of money. This is bad news as there are only so many hours in a day, so you may not be able to make up your profits without exhausting yourself – if at all. This means your competitors can be more relaxed, and they’ll have bigger financial resources at their disposal for marketing and advertising too, making them more powerful adversaries.
A basic understanding of the psychology of consumers is essential when running a business. The majority of people have a ‘You get what you pay for’ psychology, so if they see a cheap offer, they immediately perceive it as lower quality. This can significantly devalue your services. This is bad for your reputation as it positions your business as ‘cheap’ rather than representing quality – and the negative impact on your business will be long term and difficult to repair.
If what you put out is low grade, what you get back will be low grade too. If your products are seen as cheap they will attract the wrong kind of client – bargain hunters. These are the bottom dwellers of the consumer pool. They are demanding, have a skewed perspective, zero loyalty and they’re not afraid to shoot their mouths off. They are also often indecisive and bad payers, and they can suck up the resources of your company and spread negative energy like a disease.
A low or discounted price implies you have a lack of faith in your own product or service – particularly if it is ‘high-end’ – and if you don’t believe in your product, why should anyone else?
Setting a low standard makes it much harder to raise your prices as your business grows. Even if you make it clear that the lower price is “introductory” only, this is almost always ‘forgotten’, and getting people to pay higher prices once you go back to normal will be really tough, let alone when you inevitably raise your prices.
What happens if you are discounting products or services your existing customers have already paid full whack for? I can tell you one thing for sure – when they find out they are not going to be happy bunnies. The likelihood is you’ll have to either give them a partial discount or risk losing them forever. And they’re quite likely to spread the word about their shoddy treatment too…
How to win the hearts of your customers
Ok, so if you can’t discount and you don’t want to compromise quality – you may well be wondering if there is anything you can do.
In fact there are a ton of fantastic options for you to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd to increase awareness, keep your existing customers satisfied AND win new clients. What you must do is add value in some other way that will truly benefit them to create a far deeper and long lasting loyalty.
Here are some proven major strategies that work across any industry – apply as many as you can and you’ll soon begin to develop a much richer relationship with your clients and customers.
1. Provide an ‘experience’
We live in a virtual age where reality is subjective, and the more things get digitized, the more people instinctively feel the need for something genuine. The new breed of consumer differentiates between product and service choices on a whole new set of criteria to the ones marketing types are used to. What they are searching for is an authentic experience rather than just gimmicks or features from self-serving companies – something that enriches either their lives or has a positive impact for the greater good. Businesses with a strong focus on charity or community offer a compelling reason to commit and stay loyal.
Attentiveness, recognition and personalization are also key players, with the latter being particularly powerful. Amazon is one of the great artists of personalization techniques like personal recommendations based on previous purchases and browsing history. Think what you could do to ensure your customers know that you not only pay attention to their preferences, but remember them and cater to them for each and every transaction.
…And don’t forget to show your clientele the appreciation they deserve, they will love you for it. Reward them spontaneously with free and valuable insights, articles, games, competitions and other treats. Be there in the right place at the right time to give them the experience they crave.
It is absolutely okay to ask. If I were the consultant; however, it would be important to me as to whether you were asking me for an absolute or a range in improvement.
Not knowing what you are requesting in services, I am guessing part of the success will fall on the implementation program by your people..
I did not read the responses below so I could be duplicating here but.....
it is your absolute duty as the business owner and/or hiring person to have the vendor detail out for you the work they will be doing, the deliverables they will be creating for you, the turn around time, etc.... in detail, so you can be sure they will and can actually deliver.
You then absolutely should be asking them about - how they will manage, communicate, raise up issues, etc... to you, to ensure the project is going as determined. If you do not do that - then you can't complain if you do not get what you want.
I would suggest that a consultant that does this would only go so far as to collaborate with a client when it comes to sales and potential profitability. In terms of services most consultants should be willing to describe the services they provide and the cost and impact upon the client's organization. However, on the flip side many consultants avoid pricing services on an a la carte basis lest the client can cherry pick. Hope this helps
Yes, you should always meet with them by phone or in person for a consultation , to get a feel for what they do. You should ask for testimonials from other clients as well. When( if) , you decide to hire them, you should always have a contract that explains the scope of the work.
You are looking for what is called a Performance Marketer which is different from a Marketing Consultant and all of the comments has shown you that.
Depending on your product instead of looking for a consultant, search for a Performance Marketer. This is often based on a sale (Cost Per Sale) or a lead (Cost Per Lead), but can also be other revenue models including Cost Per Download.
Keep in mind you still need a Strategy which is what a Marketing Consultant will give you, but (depending on your product) you can find a Performance Marketer to help you out and give their take on what can and can't happen and so forth.
In a free society, after you are born, death is inevitable...everything else is negotiable.
However, in short, what Guy Higgins said.
It is normal to ask a consultant what will be the result of his work.
But that does not mean that a consultant can tell you 100% that it will result it will have an estimate. We are in an unstable environment when it comes to business. You have to trust first is that you can make.
Both as a consultant and as a coach, I think it´s completely ok to request any kind of consultant to define what you can expect from their services and to be accountable to that. Any professional should actually communicate clearly what their clients can expect from them and to make sure that they will be accountable for these services.
Responsability is a must for ethical businesses.
There are few Marketing Consultants that can articulate what they can do for you. There are two primary reasons for that: (1) Most don't understand that Marketing and Advertising are completely mutually exclusive from each other, which means they don't know how to market and (2) They don't understand that Marketing in the new economy is about one thing and one thing only: Market Penetration, which means telling your story. If they can't tell you what they can do for you, then they certainly can't create an image of "your story" that will accomplish the results you expect.
This is a tricky question you ask. It is impossible to guarantee results when it comes to marketing. I can guarantee how many people will see an advertisement but not how many will buy your product. I can tell you how many hours work various activities will take and show results from that (like if I tell you how long it will take to research and create prospect lists).
It really depends on what you mean for bottom line accountability. If you relate to selling something then make it commission based.
Great question and you've gotten a lot of very good and accurate answers. My answer is absolutely YES. However, if you want to get the results you must understand that marketing takes time and testing to get the results that you seek..
As an operations consultant I always advise client the set expectations up front and then get people to commit. It's no different with marketing. But, you may not get the result right out of the gate. So, how much time are you willing to give and how many iterations to keep refining the solution until you get the result.
If someone will not sign up for this, then I would say that they are not willing to be held accountable. It's time to move on if you can't get this commitment.
I do agree that you cannot expect the result right out of the gate. But, they should be able to tell you how they are willing to tweak the solution to help you get the result.
Hope this helps - Dino
Asking for exact returns is a bit like asking for the winning lottery numbers. However, that is not to say that you cannot take steps to get some indications. Firstly, you need s concrete proposal on what they intend to do and how much time they are going to spend on each task. Secondly, you can ask for references that you can talk to that can tell you how successful or otherwise the consultant has been. Thirdly, rather than open ended contracts you should build in checkpoints along the way for both of your benefits. Both of you need to check whether it is working, and whether either of you need to change anything. Remember, it is not only the consultant that may not be fulfilling their side of the bargain, clients are not always the most helpful or cooperative!
Several answers here that I haven't taken the time to browse and so if there is a duplication, my sincere apologies to the group.
First, the relationship between you and your consultant to guide you should be mutual. As one pointed out, one can take a horse to the water but not make it drink it.
There was an Arab who was getting sick of his horsemen as they were not properly feeding them their daily drink. So he said whoever comes up with an idea to get the horses to drink water gets the job as the leader of all horsemen.
So on one bright day all the horsemen woke up early and started feeding their horses and even pet them and said words of love, kindness and warmth that they usually never did.
There was this one horseman that wasn't very well known to the crew as he just joined them recently and also didn't speak the language well as he seemed to be a foreigner among them. He was well received though and the Arab consistently treated him fair and square.
At the end of the day, his horse' water pit was the least filled as obviously the horse consumed water to a very large extent compared to the rest of the harras of horses.
The excited Arab followed by the remaining horsemen ran over quickly and asked him what did you do to make that horse drink water to that level that he hasn't done in days? Did you say something in a foreign language or gave it more fodder than usual.
The horseman said politely...Sir, I did one thing that we haven't done yet...which is "I salted his oats." He became thirsty and so went for the water and I didn't even have to lead him to his water pit.
Thus, I say there is much more to taking a horse to the water as anyone can do that. There is much more to a consultant just coming in and giving a marketing plan and charging for it and not taking any accountability for the results (+ve or -ve).
An effective consultant is one who plays the role of a partner and understands loss is a loss whether he faces it or his customer does. When the customer wins, the consultant wins. Whereas when one loses, both lose as well, even though the consultant walked away with his booty fees for his work.
Moving forward I would say:
a - Find a consultant who would work as a partner.
b - Get one, whose track record shows work resulting in ROI consistently.
c - An associate that comes highly recommended.
d - A consultant that doesn't tell but asks right questions for the team to execute.
e - If the consultant is needed to execute it, then make sure the contract is amended to reflect that role and responsibility.
I tend to follow the steps shown in this process and each time (barring very rare instances) we went through.
a - Needs Assessment b - Statement or Scope of Work, c - Memorandum of Understanding, d - Project Charter, e - Milestone Review (s), f - Milestone Achieved and Celebration, g - Financial Validation of ROI from consultant fee paid. h - Ensure project sustains improvement and benefits.
Hope this helps you Michael.
From a marketing perspective the only guarantee they can give you is traffic to your business or product. That can be through SEO, email marketing, PPC ad campaigns, banner ads etc. However, to convert that traffic to revenue will require your ability to sell, or by hiring a sales team.