I visited with a business owner the other day who told me a story about a marketing firm that his company had engaged with. The business owner knew he needed some marketing assistance and this firm offered their services. However, what happens next is nothing less than incredible!
The business owner told me that the firm held a 6 hour focus group with part of his staff. The end result of the focus group was a new “slogan” that was something like “The Sun Shines Every Day”. When asked if any customers or suppliers were involved in the focus group, the answer was no, if the staff believed in the slogan, their enthusiasm would be communicated to other stakeholders. Well, you can guess what the business owner thought– BS! After all, he was charged almost $20,000 for this work product.
Now, I don’t know if a plan of work was developed before the engagement or not. I suspect not. Of course, the business owner should have insisted on such a document, as well as the marketing firm should offered the same.
The straw that broke the proverbial Camel’s back was the fact that the business owner was charged for the flowers and research time that the firm expended in sending flowers to the funeral home for the business owner’s mother’s funeral. Now, in our way of seeing the world, we would have sent the flowers to the funeral home, but would never have explicitly charged the client for such an action. Yes, this is business development and those costs would come from the business development budget. However, to explicitly charge a client for funeral flowers for his own loved one at a time of sorrow and grief shows a real lack of sensitivity and consideration.
Fair is Fair– that is the axiom that remained with me as this business owner told me this story. Sadly, the marketing firm lost a client, received negative press and our business owner wasted money that he probably did not have to spend on a product that was poorly defined initially.
Remember, if the deal is not WIN/WIN, then probably you should reconsider how to make this deal a WIN/WIN for all parties involved.