Unfortunately, the same is not always true for consultants in the marketing, social media and web development industry. Opinion is not necessarily a professional opinion backed by years of experience and due diligence. In fact, “opinion” can be a misconstrued anomaly. Many factors can affect the rewards it reaps.
Financial advisors and attorneys are not just hired for their court or corporate board room skills; they are engaged for the ability to think astutely and communicate effectively. They are paid a handsome rate for that ability and in most cases it is absolutely warranted. Savvy business people seldom question the ROI for the ability to talk authoritatively about the law or financial matters. It is considered to be part of the core values for any growing business, small or otherwise, to have these respected individuals on call or maybe even on retainer. You would not make a complex business move without them. It’s just good business. They don’t necessarily have any specific product to deliver yet value has been attached to their opinion. Their “talk” is based on knowledge and experience.
Celebrity-ism is a factor in our society that can not be argued. Oprah Winfrey, because of her celebrity status has taken the level of “opinion” to new heights. The mere mention of a product, service or organization can change the framework of that entity forever. Entire multi-million dollar conglomerates have developed simply because of her “opinion”. Dr. Phil and Rachel Ray are just two. Whether she intends it or not, her favorable “opinion” becomes an endorsement and that endorsement translates into substantial dollars and those dollars equal value. No one questions the value. It is the quintessential marketing opinion. That said, Oprah doesn’t sell widgets and her opinion is not available to everyone.
Understanding the magnitude of an overall branding or marketing endeavor takes knowledge, skill and invariably opinion based on experience. It can be as intensive as any legal or financial assessment and may require expertise in many different areas of interest, i.e., television, radio, print advertising, the internet, or concept development. Although it may appear on some levels to be fun and exciting and easy to do, it takes hard work and a wide spectrum of skills to fit all the pieces into a comprehensive and cohesive message within a specific delivery system.
So when someone asks if they can just call to “talk”, a red flag goes up. That’s a not-so-subtle way of saying that they aren’t willing to pay for a professional opinion. They haven’t been able to attach a value to the expertise that has been accrued over a lifetime through business and the non-profit arena. They need some type of product to wrap their mind around, in order to justify paying a fee.
The simple fact of the matter is . . . while marketing, PR and social media professionals do have products that they deliver, the core of their business lies in their ability to think and deliver ideas effectively. To render their opinion on what is best for your company or your project dictates the scope of their endeavors. It is their opinion, coupled with business acumen, knowledge of the rapidly changing technical universe, an understanding of how to cipher multi-media combinations efficiently and the ability to be ethically driven all at the same time, that makes this job quite complex on the inside. On the outside, it appears that they are just talking. That’s the beauty of what they do. And, in the process, they make your company look good! Contrary to what you may have believed. . . they, like Oprah don’t sell widgets!