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.
Sure, you can ask -- but don't expect anyone to sign up. You're asking someone to guarantee your performance -- a consultant provides you with expert advice and helps you develop plans, but consultants don't execute -- that's your job. If you want to hire someone full time to provide the consultant's services and then execute -- then you can require that they sign up to that.
As a coach, you are executing. But I doubt that you offer a money-back guarantee if your client doesn't follow your advice and guidance.
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.
Michael, I don't think it's a fair comparison to equate your services and the resulting returns with marketing consultants.
What you do as a business coach is a one-on-one situation, where results can be more accurately predicted because of the minimal variables encountered. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that your client must succeed in changing themselves before they can achieve any success elsewhere. Therefore, your client has a large responsibility to implement your criteria for success, and the only competition they will face is staring them in the mirror.
Marketing consultants, on the other hand, are competing with thousands of other businesses and multiple variables of day-to-day economics. They can provide best practices, and an estimated degree of success, but the state of marketing practices in general changes frequently and thus is much more unpredictable. Then add to this the responsibilities of the client once they do get a response, because in the end it's up to them to convert the sale.
Outside forces can affect a marketing campaign very quickly, and if marketing consultants guaranteed a precise amount of return, they would not be around too long. Consider that stock brokers and meteorologists cannot predict specific results, only probability. Marketing is no different.
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.
I wonder if i is the fear of accountability for the bottom line that scares people in this litigous world?
maybe if you framed the question differently you might have more success. In projects I look for outcome/benefits and use the acronym "focus"to help the conversation.
"Focus" is better written as f(O x C x U + S) ie a function of the (O)pportunity you are trying to exploit, the (C)apability you will need to create to address the opportunity and how you will (U)tilise the capability once you have it. The last term is (S)ynergy and recognises that some things only happen when others do too.
So can you describe the opportunity? Can he/she describe the capability they will bring/build? Can you between you agree how it will be utilised? Put synergies aside for a separate dicussion! :)
I suggest this may elicit better responses. Or are you just looking to pass this marketing stuff off to someone else?
You will find reluctance to accept definitive returns, as they depend on a number of things that the consultant does not control, for example: how good is the follow up, the products offered, fulfillment, etc.? You may want to define goals in terms of what the consultant may be able to deliver: "open rate", response rate - those things that marketing can drive but "sales" needs to close.
No one can guarantee what will happen in a marketing campaign. Some of my work is based on sharing quantifiable savings but when you are looking for business development there are no guarantees. What you could do is find someone who will take a small retainer and then a percentage of growth but be careful how you define it. Sales growth may be great but if it's not profitable you might get stuck paying bonuses while loosing money. Profit growth or better yet "free cash flow" growth might be a better metric. I hope that this helps a little.
Hi Michael ~
While it's certainly acceptable and in fact advisable to ask what a marketing consultant can do for you in terms of your bottom line, and to request examples of their successes as well as client testimonials, I agree with Guy Higgins that no one can or ought to guarantee your results. The closest you can come to this would be to work with someone who specializes in conversion rate optimization (CRO), as one of my current clients does. As the business owner, you're ultimately responsible for how your company does — and you know that many factors affect the bottom line.
Here's how I responded to an earlier inquiry about how to vet a PR company: http://www.mosaichub.com/open_forum/question/what-questions-and-procedures-do-you-use-to-vet-a
I think you'll find my response applicable to your current question.
Hope this helps!
Are you hiring a consultant or a sales rep? As a consultant, I cannot guarantee that you, my client, will perform, no matter how good a job I do for you.
I recently had a client to whom I gave a money back guarantee, which I often do. We thoroughly discussed what she needed, and what problems she had encountered. Based on that, I did a marketing plan for her, laid it all out in detail. She was delighted, and she paid me. A few weeks later, she asked for her money back. "Why?" I asked. "Your plan didn't work." What went wrong?" "I didn't make the calls." I returned her money, but I will never again do business with her.
So, are you asking your consultant to guarantee that you will do your part to implement the things developed for you?
I can define what I can deliver, and I can tell you results you should get and how it should impact your bottom line. We would work that out together. But there are no guarantees.
In my experience, every marketing expert I've encountered who has guaranteed results has turned out to be a charlatan.
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.
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...
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, yes and yes! It should be standard practice!
I do consulting myself (with my team of professionals). My team and I are always very clear and very detailed on what the client can expect from us, what they will need to approve, and what they can expect in return from our efforts combined with their insight. Very good question!
Of course. I'm in sales so I can relate to what your possible consultant should think. When a prospect (you) actually takes time to listen to what a consultant is offering you, and you're listening well enough to ask specific questions, that is a great thing. You're actually giving them initial buying signals saying "If you can give me more specifics so I can figure out how this can work for me, I may buy from you."
A smart consultant will think 3 things:
1. This person is actually interested in what I can do.
2. I should offer more specific information in the future when I meet a new prospect.
3. We (Michael + consultant) may be able to help EACH OTHER in the future.
Go for it. Good luck.
A consultant should offer "deliverables" for anything they do for you. Ask for specific deliverables from the consultant for each project you want done. It is smart to start with a Request for Quotation (RFQ) wherein you state your objectives in detail and ask the consultant for exactly what ROI (Return on Investment) you will receive for each project/task. Once you retain the consultant, set up a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so both you and the Consultant know what to expect from each other. Verbal orders do not cut it..