This might sound a little sensational, but I’ll say it anyway. I believe it’s our duty as consultants to continually market ourselves.
Not just because it helps you grow your business, but because it helps you build a more ethical business.
I know this sounds unusual, but I’ll explain.
For this conversation, I’m defining ethics by how closely you serve your clients’ interests above all else—even your own interests.
It’s a spectrum, not necessarily black and white. It’s also a mindset, a decision, and an aspiration to aim for.
Our duty to our clients…
I believe we have a duty to advocate for our clients and act in their best interests above all else.
That’s what fiduciaries do and what we should all aspire to be.
If we all tried to act in our clients’ best interests at all times, it would shape how we do business entirely.
So, how does marketing yourself actually lead to being more ethical and aligned with your clients’ best interests?
Let’s look at a few examples:
- You don’t take on poor-fit clients in the first place because you have better options available.
- You are more likely to refer poor-fit prospects to someone better suited to their needs.
- You don’t stay in engagements that aren’t working longer than you should—which is good for your client.
- You can speak the truth as you see it because you’re not scared to lose them by having hard conversations.
- You can charge enough to do great work because you have other people willing to pay you fairly if they won’t.
- You can proactively charge less or change the scope if you notice the value being created isn’t high enough to justify your fees and you have better options at lower prices/levels of engagement (because you’re not desperate for the money).
- You can pre-emptively call out and own your errors because it’s the right thing to do and you’re not nervous about losing a client.
The bottom line is, you can’t do your best work in alignment with the interests of your clients unless you have other options.
I’ve always said, “get busy, then get picky”. You sometimes have to do work that is less than ideal to pay the bills.
Oftentimes, while you may not be ideal for your client’s needs, you’re the best they can reasonably find or afford!
Nothing wrong with that. Nody is pretending you need to only work with some unicorn-perfect client.
You’ll occasionally take on non-ideal work, charge too little to win the business, or work with clients long past the best-by date.
It doesn’t make you unethical to do any of these things in certain contexts. I’m naive to think it’s that black and white.
But it does make it harder to truly act in their interest if we really need the business.
To truly out our financial interests second, we need to have options. That’s where marketing comes in.
Agree? Disagree? Hit reply and let me know what you think.
P.S. A quick question: I’m thinking about opening a new tier of Mindshare without any coaching options. Just the monthly workshops, members-only audio, and access to a private Slack community. Would you be interested? Click this link to automatically express your interest.