I started a business. It made me want to drink copious quantities, smoke myself into oblivion and hit my head against a brick wall. Instead I wrote a blog.
For the last day I have been evaluating what it means to take into account emotional decision making in a business. Eleanor Roosevelt once said
'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' (BTW, I typed that without even having to look it up which I think is pretty impressive).
This is absolutely true. If someone says that you're stupid and you feel bad about it, what it actually means is that you feel stupid deep down inside and them saying so simply holds up a mirror to your own insecurities. Feel confident inside and you can shrug it off, albeit acknowledging that the person who gave the insult - is well - insulting. But this truth doesn't do any good when you're faced with prospective clients who simply walk away from your proposition because the way you present your level of expertise make them feel like they're the stupid ones.
But they're not stupid. You are. NO ONE likes feeling stupid and if you're a company who does this, it means you're going to go bankrupt quickly. Whilst clients come to a consultancy to learn or indeed to get consultants for tasks they don't know how to do themselves, they should still feel respected, competent and like they have received very good value for money.
So the first item on my agenda is to carefully re-evaluate all the products on the site and make sure that they are the best they can be given the constraint that some will obviously require prior business knowledge because much of the work does contain sophisticated thinking and analysis. This entails :
After all the products are designed to showcase the knowledge of the consultant; however if the way that knowledge is presented in a way that makes the client run in the opposite direction then he or she isn't going to get much out of it...and the consultant will get even less.
Many people have queried the existence of products on our site with push backs ranging from 'But there are so many white papers/free info already out there' to 'Who's gonna buy that when they can get an entire book on the subject for 9.99?'
Amid the many justifications I have for thinking it's a great idea for consultants to externalize their knowledge in useful products (better for our society in general, a client trust building exercise, a training in finding out what the consumer wants) here's one more. Give the clients a free report that serves to enlighten them, that they love and they come away from the site feeling terrific and only wanting to get more of that natural high.
But I am a financial analyst by trade - I love modeling and I don't so secretly think that mathematics is a fundamental key to unlocking the secrets of the universe. Emotional decision making is traditionally not on our radar. That's why it came as no surprise to me that the most lukewarm responses to my rapturous reaction on this subject were from highly technical and brilliant - quantitative analysts.
The question of how to present our expertise is always a difficult one. The consultants on the site are all at the top of their game with years of experience and track records of highly impressive executive positions on their CVs. 'Dumbing down' the expertise devalues their investment in their respective educations and underrates their excellent acumen. And yet the potential clients who stumble over an online consultancy website may be the high school drop out with huge commercial savvy but no education in how a profit and loss is constructed, or the ex-finance director who does a fantastic job budgeting and forecasting but who hasn't a clue how to go about marketing and selling his or her new ideas.
Everyone and anyone from holistic health practitioners to graphic designers may come to our site for business advice. Whilst corporate clients may have been recommended by word of mouth, almost everyone who 'converts' to user status will take the same action first. They will download the free reports. Why? Because they're free.
Corporate clients are not just Marketing Directors, CFOs and analysts...just as small businesses are not just the printing shop on the corner or the pub down the road. They are people. People who enjoy feeling great and not feeling stupid. We have four price points which allow the user to develop their trust in our expertise and application of that expertise in specific disciplines in an incremental fashion. Get their buy in at the free level and they may try the cheapest report level etc.
I don't believe that making knowledge accessible horizontally for all levels of education is a bad type of consultancy to be, it's just a new type. In the same manner that people may use excel for financial models, and data analysis, they may also use it to draw an organisational chart or keep a record of their weight on a daily basis (been there,done that).
Because unlike the big guns who believe their competitive advantage resides in appearing aloof, exclusive and imparting knowledge for extortionate sums of money...Investment Impact is above all a knowledge sharing entity.
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