A couple of times when I have been client side I’ve gone fishing. It’s a bad habit and I’m not proud of it, especially now that I’m running my own small group. You all know what I’m talking about: it’s the cheap way to get ideas, insight, perspective on your business by asking a few agencies to come in and suggest what they think they could do for you.
In for-profit companies, no matter what their size, it’s a not so honest way of getting consulting thinking for free. For agencies, it’s a time sump and an opportunity cost much like buying a Lotto ticket. Sometimes it’s completely overt, think the Sears controversy a few years back when its RFP said that Sears would own any submitted material. This led to a 4As position paper defining how to avoid this behavior.
The challenge for any small agency without the leverage of a big holding company behind them: How much do you give away without charge to show your thinking? How much product do you share for free as part of a sampling? Too much product shared, like bait in the water, and the fish goes away with the free meal.
I’m pondering this because we had a meeting with a small digital startup that is have both customer acquisition and retention issues. After an hour of reviewing Google Analytics and the acquisition sources, we had a pretty good idea on how to approach the problem/s. The obvious next step: how would you like us to help you? We can propose an overview of your customer journey and identify the low-hanging fruit to address your issues; you can point us at the areas you believe are causing the problems.
What we got was a well, why don’t you do a deep dive into our GA and then tells more things that we should look at. We’re a bit stymied because we are curious and want to do the right thing but we are a business to and there is that darn opportunity cost.