One of the most important roles of a marketing consultant is to suggest and facilitate change, so it is vitally important that clients feel a strong and almost organic sense of trust in that person.
Marketing consultant and fellow MarketingProfs Daily Fix blogger Elaine Fogel has elicited that type of trust from leaders of companies and non-profit organizations, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona, Association of Corporate Counsel, Southern California, and many other businesses and organizations nationwide.
“Clients who are looking to implement processes that will help them improve and succeed often don’t anticipate that it will involve a paradigm shift in how they perceive marketing and branding,” says Elaine. “Sometimes, they aren’t ready for my initial recommendations or proposal, and are reluctant to invest their time and resources. Marketing isn’t a product they’re purchasing with a return policy. That would be much easier. It’s about hiring someone they trust and that has a proven track record of helping organizations achieve better results and then putting that consultant’s recommendations into practice.”
Elaine says that many organization leaders who are hesitant to change or who don’t understand how marketing works hide behind the excuse, ‘We can’t afford it.’ Notes Elaine: “It’s a real Catch-22. People say they are the best kept secret in town while suffering from lack of business or awareness. So, they stay frozen, maintaining the status quo.”
For marketers grappling with what to do with clients who are hopelessly change averse, Elaine has the following advice. “It’s important to thoroughly interview prospective clients up front to see how flexible they are and what their expectations are. Ask a lot of questions and try to find out if they truly are willing to entertain new ideas. If they aren’t, sometimes it’s wiser to decline the project. No one—clients included—wants to work hard (or spend money) on a project only to have it shelved afterwards. Our success as marketers hinges on our clients’ success.”
For clients, especially entrepreneurs and founders who are having trouble giving up control, Elaine says that talking to references can confirm a person’s credentials but that being qualified is not enough. Because marketing involves change, clients should continue the search (however long it takes) until they find the person they feel can confidently and successfully guide and manage that process.
Elaine says her diverse background as a marketer, TV host, singer songwriter, and classroom teacher gives the “ham” in her an outlet to evangelize about marketing as a professional speaker. “Watching the light bulbs go on over people’s heads is very rewarding, because I know that they will go back to their teams with some tools and techniques they can put into practice as well as a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to growing their organizations.”
For more information about Elaine Fogel, check out her Daily Fix posts here.