Industrial Marketing: Are You Looking for an Advisor or a Waiter?


When the conversation turns into a one-way street, you aren’t asking for help – you’re asking for trouble.

With industrial marketing, the relationship between an advisor and their client works best when each party understands their role.

Just as they do with their financial advisors and legal teams, companies develop close working relationships with their marketing consultants. In my experience, the majority of relationships my firm has had with clients have been terrific. We’ve had a lot of success stories.

There is usually a good deal of excitement at the beginning of an engagement, but in certain instances, it wanes over time. The honeymoon period ends, enthusiasm wanes, and deadlines and appointments are missed.

However, the problem often comes when  the client relies on their marketing consultants less as trusted advisors and, instead, more as a waiters kept on retainer to carry out their wishes.

When that happens, if the agency has any business sense and morals, they will do one of two things:

  1. Stop taking the check, attempt to correct the course of the relationship or, end the relationship if the situation cannot be rectified.
  2. Stay the course, accept the check and do what the agreement calls for. Inevitably, the agency will be responsible for the outcome.

In either scenario, when it comes time for the client to assess their marketing activities – including budget – decision-makers ask for a report (ROI, etc) and it’s usually disappointing.

They ask, “Who said to do that? Why did you do that? Why weren’t we consulted?”

Then the client grabs the reins. But the agency is responsible for the outcome, even though the client is calling all of the shots or not participating at all. This is the least desirable outcome for all parties involved.

If a company simply wants to hire someone to execute their marketing initiatives, that’s certainly an option, but it would be a lot less expensive to hire a few interns. Although, in the end, the outcome would most likely be the same: poor.

At CoreElement, we want to form strong relationships where the conversation is a two-way street. As your industrial marketing advisor, it is our job to give you advice – even if you might not want to hear it.

If your baby’s ugly, we will tell you. Some may call it brutally honest, but part of our commitment to our clients is to speak plainly even when it’s uncomfortable.

Photo credit: joelK75

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