Do the right thing. Even if it’s a nightmare.

Why do consultants (marketing and otherwise) have such a negative reputation in the business world? Like any profession, you have highly skilled people and you have others who are not as skilled. No surprise there. But skills alone still don’t make a trusted adviser (the gold standard every consultant wants to achieve). Part of the problem comes down to people who simply oversell their qualifications but don’t have the skill to back it up. For clients, this smoke screen is difficult to penetrate but this is probably the primary driver of low satisfaction among clients. Ultimately, their experience with the consultant (or firm) is sub par which, in turn, reinforces the negative connotation of the profession.

However, there is another factor that generally flies below the radar – even good, highly skilled consultants fall into this trap. And the result is not good for anyone. The trap is “Let’s do what is easy instead of what is right for the client.”

I’ve become a fan of incendiary chef Gordon Ramsey. Not because of his obnoxious show “Hells Kitchen” (I hate that show) but because of his other show “Kitchen Nightmares”. Essentially, Ramsey is a consultant who offers tough, straight talk to turn around failing restaurants – typically due to the ownership and/or management who are not doing what is in the best interest of the business. He pulls no punches and cuts through the often sizable egos of his clients. Through all the f-bombs and brutal truth, you can see that Ramsey genuinely cares about the success of the business.

For example, I have worked with companies who were willing to spend money having consultants and outside partners do various marketing activities. Doesn’t seem like a problem, does it? The problem is that the activities were the whim of the president and not necessarily the activities that would actually fuel the company’s growth and success. Most were the marketing equivalent of busy work. There is no plan, no goals and the whims change direction constantly. Many initiatives that started are never completed. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Why would otherwise self respecting consultants go along with this? Because it is easier to take the money and go along with the flow. After all, that’s why we are in business, right? To go to the bank. However, this is not why the client hires outside expertise. They expect results. They may seem satisfied with the furious activity but at the end of the fiscal year, this satisfaction quickly evaporates because money was spent and goals were not met.

It’s difficult to push against this flow. In fact, you may even lose the business to other folks who don’t really care about the client’s best interests. The money is tempting. Nobody likes to tell a valued client that they are on the wrong path. There are many reasons to sit silent and play the easy game. But I believe that those of us in the business of helping our clients solve problems and create growth opportunities have a sovereign duty to always do what is right for the client – whether they like it or not.

Sure, it’s not easy. Of course they may not like it at the time. It may even require them to spend more money (Ouch!). But the fact is, they didn’t hire you to be a “yes man”. They hired you to solve their problems. Don’t be a wimp – do the right thing no matter what. And keep the swearing to a minimum.


5 Responses to “Do the right thing. Even if it’s a nightmare.”

  1. 1 Patti DeNucci, DeNucci & Co.
    October 14, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    I loved this, Pete. Your message is so timely and true. Unless we, as professionals, are in complete integrity with what we are communicating to others as our mission, there is a stark disconnect that will eventually hurt all involved. Though we all are entitled to make a living, being in business has to be about something deeper and more important than just turning a profit.

  2. 2 Patti DeNucci, DeNucci & Co.
    October 14, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    P.S. Have you watched the show where Tabitha takes on failing hair salons? Another fascinating show to watch and learn from.

  3. October 14, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    A well written article. I am a big fan of Ramsey for that reason alone. No BS, here is what you need to do consulting. It’s as much about changing behavior as it is about processes.

  4. 4 denaroberts
    November 14, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Great post!

  5. December 7, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Ditto on “great post” — it reminds me in a semi related manner of a former client of ours who found it necessary to fire what was at the time their largest client. The so called easy path was to keep doing their work but not having it or their staff appreciated or treated in a professional manner. After some soul searching they found a professional way to terminate the relationship and interestingly they then experienced an influx of several new clients showing up at their door. When we exercise our integrity muscle the results are immediate and rich in my experience.

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Who is Pete Monfre

CLICK HERE to visit my web site

I'm a serial entrepreneur, marketing and media guy, raconteur, writer, producer and consultant. I write this little blog to help you unravel the mysteries of marketing and selling, to expose the silliness that masquerades as marketing and help you make better decisions that will grow your business. And I have fun with it. Why not comment? That way we can have a conversation. Or better yet, hop on over to my web site and drop me a line.

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