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, although inexperienced or unprofessional marketing consultants may not want to be held accountable for results. The business must use the tactics to engage and build trust and a relationship with the customer. At this time honest feedback may be gained and enable the measurement of motivators to make a purchase decision. The process and cost of obtaining the feedback should be built into the project and deliverables.
If by "return" you mean "sales", the answer is no.
If by "return" you mean actual results and defined deliverables: of course yes.
Please note that marketing and sales are two different things.
Marketing consultant needs to define their services in terms of deliverables, not in terms of sales.
Example: a car dealer will have some marketing efforts such as Tv ads, radio ads, direct mail, sponsorships, SEO, etc. The success of that can be measured by how many people walk into the dealership to check out cars (not by actual sales of cars).
It is up to the sales team (not marketing) to close the deal and sell the car.
In other words, Marketing brings people to your doors, sales will convert them to money.
My firm provides market entry, product and business development, and other related activities. We often require a small monthly retainer with incentive compensation at the end of the project or milestone based.
That is a MUST! As a Consultant, I offer in writing exactly what you are paying me for and an estimated timeline for completion. When I was a CEO, I had used consultants. I found most of the connected ones to be nothing more than lazy smoking mirrors. It is what made me become a consultant. I figured that if I just did what the client asked me to do and for a reasonable fee, that I would be inundated with work and clients. I was correct.
For example, I have a client that pays me $10,000 per month to bring in 200,000 a month in new business to his estimators. I do not get a commission on the revenue that I bring him nor do I have any say on the pricing that arrives at the 200k. I just very simply bring the work to his company and make sure that he is awarded the work through my relationships. If I don't generate the revenue for his company, I don't bill him!
Very clean for both sides and economical for both parties. That company has referred me to 35 new companies at least.
I, unlike many other consultants, have a 100% guarantee to achieve that specific scope of work. You and your consultant should have a written scope of work and time assessment for that scope. It should be that easy. If they don't want to do it that way then I would have to say they are taking you for a ride!
I hope this helped.
Any good consultant will define what their services encompass. However, I don't think any consultant can guarantee bottom line results because the implementation of their marketing suggestions is a function of the company that they were hired to help. For example, I am confident that my recommendations will be successful and I have proven it. But unless I am directly responsible for implementation I really cannot guarantee the kind of bottom line result I think you are referring to.
It is absolutely ok to ask. But as you can see from the answers here in many cases you won't get the type of answer you are looking for.
I require my prospective clients to fill out an application in which I ask some detailed questions. From those answers I know if I can help the prospect and have a pretty good idea of what type of return I can generate for them.
I only proceed to the next step of scheduling a free strategy session if I know I can deliver massive value and then I guarantee that I won't waste their time.
If they qualify we hold the free strategy session and after asking a few more clarifying questions I lay out a pretty comprehensive marketing plan. At that point time there are basically 3 outcomes.
1) The non-paying client loves my plan but decides to execute it themselves. In that case I wish them luck and just ask them to keep in touch to let me know how things went.
2) The non-paying client loves my plan and asks me to help coach them through it or help execute part or sometimes all of the plan. At that point they become a paying client.
3) The non-paying client tells me I provided no value whatsoever and I wasted their time both filling out the application and during the strategy consult. If this is the case I would send the person $500 as an apology for wasting their time. (I say would because as of the time of this response no one has told me I wasted their time)
I haven't always done things this way. I only started after getting this advice from one of my mentors who himself uses this method. And this process has proven to be the most effective way I have found to date to manage the expectations of the client and to hold myself accountable to that client and myself.
In my opinion, a consultant or coach should not ever truly cost you anything out of pocket but should pay for themselves many times over in the value they are providing and in the case of marketing, the extra revenues they are helping you generate from day one.
So Michael, don't be afraid to ask for this type of arrangement or something similar. Whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable with a process that allows you to get to know, like and trust a consultant before you actually hire them.
Hope that helps. Take care and all the best. - Jack
You are on the correct track to ask for and expect a ROI estimate from prospective advisors. If they need more data than you provide in order to commit to a certain number, then they should ask. Marketing Consultants, especially branches of larger firms come a dime a dozen. They typically are very hard to pin down. Your best bet is to find an independent consultant not unlike your experience as a business coach. If you are looking for a group to find you leads in your specific service industry, then you need to rethink your targeted service provider.
Yes in short. It is good practice to establish a business proposal and stick to a time line to the end date. in that should be expected targets
I have a marketing degree, and was an international regional marketing manager for a F100 organization so what I'm going to say is based in both (experience and education)
I will have to say that not just for marketing, but for any consulting engagement; if the consultant cannot provide you with clear accountability (expected costs, and results), simply walk away from him/her. So the answer is YES, you should ask and receive specific terms and milestones that will define your costs, and expected returns for your investment (payment) to the marketing consultant.
While I will agree with my marketing consulting peers that it is very hard to provide guarantees, they must agree with me that there is a substantial difference between a 1% return rate, and a 25% return rate. If you are a solid marketing consultant for that specific industry, then you should be able to tell the customer based on your previous experience the expected return based on real data. Any marketing consultant that tells you that it can't be done is not worth the 5 minutes you have to spend asking that simple question.
As an example, any great marketing organization knows the expected return of their investment in marketing. Otherwise would any one believe that those 30 second commercials on the Superbowl will go for millions based on what (wishful thinking)?
No, I don't do straight marketing consulting anymore because many business owners do not want to hear the realities of marketing research. Yes, it cost money to do the research, and the answer may be (NO, your product most probably will not succeed); but then many prefer to simply pay someone thousands of dollars to launch an advertising campaign for winter coats in the middle of Ecuadorian Guinea (just because someone, knows someone, who knows someone there). Yes I'm exaggerating here (nobody should feel offended) but sometimes is the only way to drive the message.
Here is a link to an article I wrote a while ago about strategic marketing and planning that I hope it may be useful for general info. http://www.inloso.com/?p=498.
A better question might be "what type of consultant are you looking for?" 1. Are you looking to engage someone to help you come up with a plan and then to manage the implementation of it? 2. Are you looking for advice on how best to implement and improve on your plan. or 3. Are you looking for specific technical expertise to help you implement your plan? The roles, skills sets and experience are radically different.
Marketing is always a high-risk proposition because it is a mix of leadership, teamwork, emotion, timing, creativity, competition, process, technology, implementation, testing and continuous improvement.
It's like asking someone to guarantee the outcome of a hockey tournament.
I think all anyone can do is have a solid defensible plan, a set of projections that model your business experience, a means to measure performance and a plan for managing risks and making incremental improvements along the way.
Asking for more than this, requires that you take the consultant on as an equity partner, who will still only be able to follow the above process, if that.
I believe marketing consultant services can be from an point , He has to makes his studies in order to serve his client better , from the bottom line , Now these services includes the company structure , marketing plan , marketing mix , brands marketing team qualifications , He will have to reach to weaknesses & try to change it or support it , even if it is from bottom . I personally work on each new project from this point -How to support & strengthen the project weaknesses .
I think that to a certain degree you have to understand what is measurable (near term) and what isn't. Every one of us wants our vendors and service providers to be measurable and accountable, but your marketing guy knows that you have more to do with a successful campaign than he does.
I would ask the marketing person how he/she knows that the campaign was successful, but I've found that people that get repeat business are effectively earning a bonus and people that aren't, don't...
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As a business owner, I have struggled with getting a market consultant to define their services in measurable terms. One of the questions you may want to ask a consultant to help with finding quantitative data on their work, is to inquire about past clients. For example you can ask a consultant to define in quantifiable terms what exactly they did for their past clients. Particularly clients they felt benefited from their services. They should be able to readily supply with answers and if they do not, I would suggest moving on to the next consultant. Hope this helps.
Marketing is a process of attracting, engaging, nurturing and then converting prospects into customers. it's a long term strategy vs. a transaction or an exchange of X for X between a client who already bought into what you're selling.
Coaching individual clients requires that they follow your specific advice. You know who they are, you already have a relationship with them. People PAY YOU to keep them accountable, you have more control over the outcome. People don't pay your marketer to market to them and ensure they buy.
Your marketing resources don't have as much control as you do of the outcome of their efforts because they can not predict behavior of users they are attracting to your business. That's why defining target markets is so crucial, enables us to narrow down user needs and possibly predict their behavior better based on history but nobody can fully guarantee results. There are those who throw empty stats at clients to close but that's how customers walk away disappointed and that's not the type of relationships most legit marketers want to build.
Send me exactly what you need and why you think you need it as I'm a marketing strategist so I can help you define possible outcomes. Be clear with your goals.
You simply might be asking for the impossible so please consider the fact that you expectations may require an adjustment and perhaps understanding of the process will help with that. I will help you.
Answering a question like "How much will you make me?" is very hard to answer. What sort of offer are you making, what kind of conversion do you get, where are your customers coming from, those and a raft of other factors all matter.
And the fact that Google can change the rules over-night makes guarantees particularly rough.
Will a particular piece work? Who knows - that is what split-testing is for.
I can see why you are frustrated; this should be considered standard practice but sadly is not, typically, within marketing. My firm, Weber Associates, will typically provide ranges for the expected returns on marketing spend IF we're also helping with execution. It is wholly dependent on what types of returns, exactly, you are asking for and whether you're attempting to set up a pay-for-performance contract.
I could see agencies hesitate if they're a) unclear what specific returns and on what activities you're expecting, b) whether you're asking them to put fees at risk to do so; and/or c) if they're not used to these types of contracts or unwilling/unsure if they can actually deliver on the returns you're asking for.
What returns specifically are you hoping to see? And what kinds of services? That might help us all get more pinpointed with our responses.
It can be difficult to gain this kind of accountability as both the client and the consultant are trying to minimize risk. What I like to offer to my B2B clients works like this:
1. We mutually agree on what constitutes an acceptable and excellent outcome (Not always in $, but usually).
2. We mutually agree on the value of the outcomes and how they will be measured.
3. We mutually agree that if the client does specifically as advised and they do not get the agreed-upon outcomes then they get their fee refunded.
I have found that this protects both the client and the consultant.
Hope this helps,
Providing projections and expected return is dependent on a number of variables. I will often provide a status quo projection but in reality, market conditions and developments will change a forecast and actual return. I believe any seasoned consultant can provide a realistic figure based on current market conditions and events but the client should be aware that change is possible and will affect those figures. It's about establishing a good relationship and feeling confident in the projections the consultant provides based on your needs and being prepared to adjust those figures based on new developments. Also, written deliverables are key to a good long-term relationship. Be sure you are clear about what you need and what the consultant will provide.