When I pitch a prospect, I always stress the value-add I can bring to the relationship. It’s important to me because not only is it important to them, but I’ve been in their shoes in the past as an in-house marketer, and I have had to deal with consultants and vendors who want to nickel and dime me on every single request I make, even those within reason. I know of one company that, when bidding for a job, wanted to charge us for the comps on a proposed campaign. Comps, as in, you know, “complimentary.” We didn’t like what they did and went with someone else. Then I got a bill in the mail for services rendered. They wanted to charge us for a pitch, they were so special.
To this day, when people ask me about this company, I tell them about that little episode. This is a company that doesn’t understand the notion of value-added in the extreme. I was forced to work with them a few times as our boss wanted to retain their services. They charged too much money for boring work, and were outwardly insulted when we tried to get them to go back to the drawing board—which costs us further. Most companies, thankfully, will state in their proposal that they will do up to three revisions. This consultant never got that memo, evidently.
This head of this company and his poor business practices always stuck with me. His case is extreme, but too often times, consultants tend to forget that the experts aren’t always right, and that the number one rule of this game is to listen to the client, and to try and serve their needs, not just your company’s pockets.
Of course, that leads into a bigger discussion on reputation, and that’s my point: I think a great reputation and value-added service go hand in hand. The person with the strongest reputation in the consulting game is the one who usually under-promises and over-delivers. They give extra care and attention and they don’t charge for every small thing. I am frequently available to my clients if they simply want to brainstorm an idea with me, or need my advice on something. I don’t hesitate to summarize a conversation, or throw in an action plan that wasn’t part of the deal. Our job is to make their job easier.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying that value-added services are one of the smartest, and ironically, cost-effective promotions you can do.