I work for a marketing consulting firm. As a result, I have many opportunities to consult with clients on a daily basis about marketing and talk with them about what direction they should take to solve their marketing problems. What is “some” clients mean by “marketing? We cannot provide value to our clients with half-baked knowledge and experience, because we are providing value to these clients who have studied and practiced marketing. We cannot provide value to our clients with half-finished knowledge and experience.
However, in reality, there are very few clients in Japan who have such knowledge and experience in marketing. Even if you have been working in the marketing department for more than 10 years, what you think and what you actually do are often far removed from marketing. In particular, as a result of an increase in the number of companies focusing on marketing in recent years, there are many opportunities to be approached by clients with a completely zero-based approach to ordering and thinking about their work.
What happens when we provide consulting services to such zero-based clients? What I personally have experienced in many cases is the “leave everything to us” style. What is marketing? I have to be honest, I don’t really know what marketing is, so there are a great many clients who approach this project with the attitude that they want us to do something about it. However, we cannot criticize their attitude toward this project. Because not only do they not understand what marketing is, they also do not understand what we are trying to do. Not only do they not understand what marketing is, but they have never dealt with a consulting firm like ours before, so they have no idea how the project is going to proceed.
One of the misconceptions that many people who are new to marketing projects have is that there is nothing or not much for the client to do. The reason for this belief seems to be largely influenced by the way orders have been placed in the past. For example, when we propose a marketing project to a client who has only ever ordered products before coming to the marketing department, the client often estimates very little time to work on their own. However, in an actual marketing project, there is a lot of work and thinking on the part of the client company. We are marketing professionals, but we are not industry professionals. We think, act, and make proposals based on the information we receive from the client. Therefore, if the information is extremely scarce, fragmented, or of poor quality, there are few factors to consider, and the quality of the information will be poor and we will not be able to make appropriate proposals. Conversely, if the information provided by the client company is comprehensive and logical, it is more likely to lead to a great proposal.
There are many other things that we ask our clients to do. There is nothing in recent marketing that is not related to systems. Therefore, we need you to communicate not only with the system department, but also with the advertising department, if there is a separate advertising department, we need you to MTG with them to obtain information from them as well. Furthermore, depending on the measures to be taken, it may be necessary to coordinate with the distribution department, etc., so the work is very diverse. It is difficult to serve in this position without that much knowledge and presence within the company.
If you are unable to coordinate with other departments, provide them with appropriate information, or explain your ideas, the range of your proposals will naturally be limited. This means that you may be hampering the expected results and reducing the likelihood of success of the marketing project.
Of course, we may conduct such coordination and research. It is quite common to have the client do the relations and we do the rest of the explanation and coordination. However, we would like you to understand that we would have to charge a very high fee if we were to perform such work as well. We do not want to charge a high fee for this type of work, because it would be like having several people working at the client company on a permanent basis.
A marketing project is a process that takes months or years of hard work by the marketing firm and the client company working together. Never think that because you are a professional, you can just leave it to us to make it better, right? Marketing firms need to work together with their clients to make things better. Marketing firms cannot fully demonstrate their capabilities without the cooperation of their clients.
This is a generalization, but the best firms do not want to do business with clients who have that kind of attitude. You already know why. The chances of a marketing project failing are too high. Marketing firms are evaluated on the sales and profits they generate for their clients. No matter how hard the marketing firm tries, if it cannot get enough cooperation from the client company, it is obvious that it will not be able to produce good results, and it is very risky for the marketing firm to participate in such a project.
If we pay them, they will do it, right? You may think, “If I pay them, they will do it,” but even if they agree in the short term, it is 100% unlikely in the long term because the project is not likely to produce results. This is because assigning people to a project that is unlikely to produce results is a drain on human resources. A marketing company’s assets are the skills of its people. It is unthinkable for a marketing firm to waste these vital skills for nothing.
Marketing projects are very much about “relationships. Trusting each other, opening up to each other, and recognizing each other as colleagues to work with is a huge factor in the success of a project. Therefore, the marketing firm will communicate with the client as much as possible, exposing itself to the client so that the client and the marketing firm can become colleagues. We want our clients to know that this communication is important. Although we are on the side of the client and the client is on the side of the client, there should never be a superior-subordinate relationship.