By Gini Dietrich
In the past week I have been asked the same question four different times during interviews.
This question has never come up before and I find it strange four different people have asked it of me in just the last seven days.
What is the one thing you wish prospects would ask you?
Think about that from your own perspective. You’re in a meeting with a prospect and they’re getting ready to sign on the dotted line. What is the one thing you wish they’d asked?
For us, I’m always surprised how most prospects do no research about who we are or what we do. It amazes me anyone would hire a professional services firm and not investigate them in the least.
Time vs. Cash
But that’s not the question I wish they’d ask. The question I wish they’d ask is how much time they’re going to have to invest, along with the cold, hard cash, to have a successful marketing communications program.
You see, it’s part of our messaging and education with a brand, new client, but many don’t fully grasp the time investment as intense at it is until they’re in the middle of it. And then they wonder why they’ve hired anyone at all when it takes as much of their time as it does.
Take, for instance, a current client example. The business has been around for four years and it’s on a fast trajectory…already surpassing the $10 million mark.
They are going through a rebrand and the CEO and CFO are both intimately involved. In the past month, my team and their web firm have been on the phone with them daily. And, once a week, we’ve spent two hours or more in person with them.
The executives of this fast-growing, professional services firm are spending no less than eight hours a week in meetings with us, not to mention their review time of the new messaging, website, collateral, and other marketing materials.
How Much Time?
To be fair, this is an extreme example. It’s not often the executives are intimately involved, nor that they spend this much of their own time. And, for most campaigns that are ongoing, it’s not even required of your marketing or communications team to be that involved.
But it does take some involvement and there is a time investment. At the very least, there is a weekly meeting requirement, weekly review of materials time, and participation in interviews, events, social media, writing, and more.
If you want the relationship with your PR firm to go well, someone on your team needs to devote a minimum of 10 hours a week. If there is a lot going on – like there is with the client rebrand we’re doing – you could commit upwards of 20 hours a week.
The idea is not that you hire a firm and they go away and make you shine without your involvement. Rather, you hire them to help you accomplish more than you could on your own.
If you think of your PR firm as an extension of your team – and involve them just like you would a member of your team – the success will be unlimited.
A modified version of this first appeared in my weekly AllBusiness Experts column.