When you are a consultant, you walk a fine line between telling customers and prospects what they are doing wrong while complimenting them on what they’re doing right. You wouldn’t have a foot in the door were they doing everything right, yes? But that’s no reason to tell them their baby is ugly.
When a brand consultant, you walk an even finer line when interacting with prospects because you don’t really know the brand. You haven’t done discovery. You haven’t articulated the addressable business problems. You haven’t dug into the customer care-abouts or brand good-ats. Without those lines of reasoning anything you say can and will be shallow. So, you do the shallow spade work. Which often ends with discussions about process, procedures and practices. Not sexy.
People like to talk about themselves and their frames of reference. Brands do too. Trust me, when I do brand discovery it’s fire hose time. But to get to discovery you have to a client to sign on. And even if they open up on a call or two, you can’t make any real judgements until the cake it out of the oven (Alex Bogusky).
This is a conundrum I have yet to crack adequately. So I listen. I overlay some thoughts. I qualify my answers with a plea of brand ignorance. And I hope to build trust.
As I said, a fine line.