A great consultancy should be heard, but not seen

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By Leo Valiquettespotlight

It can sometimes be a thankless job, this eat-what-you-kill world of marketing and PR guns for hire.

As I wrote about last week, poorly managed expectations can torpedo any client engagement. So too can penny-wise-and-pound-foolish budget decisions that all but guarantee the failure of a marketing program by starving it of the resources it needs.

Word of mouth is crucial to bring new business in the door. We rely on referrals from happy clients, and we prize positive and meaningful testimonials that give us credibility with prospects and illustrate what is required for a marketing or PR effort to be successful.

We judge ourselves by the results we achieve for our clients, and hold ourselves accountable to that.

What we don’t do is attempt to ride our clients’ coattails and crowd into their time in the spotlight

As consultants who are active in a role that helps to drive business development and grow revenue, it is only natural to feel some measure of ownership. You should take ownership in the sense that you feel you have skin in the game. You share in, and take responsibility for, a client’s successes and failures that are related to your efforts. This is the basis for a relationship built on trust. This is your motivation to be persistent, diligent and innovative on their behalf.

Regardless of whether it is a PR engagement or a marketing one, the end goal is the same – exposure for the client. Only the purpose of the exposure will differ, be it new hires, new customers or achieving a position of thought leadership in an industry.

It may have taken a substantial amount of effort as the consultant to achieve that goal. Depending on the media or marketing savvy of the client, it may have been analogous to turning an overweight couch potato into a winning prize fighter. Nonetheless, you didn’t do this for your own glory. You did it for the client. Unless it involves pro-bono work for a worthy not-for-profit, you didn’t do this out of the goodness of your heart. You did what you were paid to do.

So when it comes time for the client to bask in the glow of success, you shouldn’t be trying to muscle into the spotlight beside them. If they are getting primo media coverage for them, you should not be trying to get your name and that of your consultancy into the story alongside theirs. If you have created a website or marketing collateral intended to fill their funnel with leads, prospects should be seeing only one number to call or website to visit, and it isn’t yours.

The only place you should be getting exposure is through the signature block on your email or in the contact info at the bottom of a media release.

And yet, in my travels, I see it happen where a consultancy is trying to use its client as a stepping stone for its own brand building. I don’t see it happen very often. But when it does, it jumps out at me like three-day-old road kill in July. This isn’t about you. It’s about them. It’s far too easy, when trying to serve your interests in this manner, to do something that is contrary to theirs. That is a violation of trust.

But if you serve your clients well, if you manage expectations and work hard to achieve goals or objectives that were clearly defined at the outset, you should be rewarded in the most upright manner possible. You will get that referral, or that great testimonial with which to adorn your website.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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