Thursday, December 28, 2006

Toward a Code of Ethics for Marketing Consultants

My philosophy of consulting has always been that 1) I want every client to remain a (satisfied) client for as long as possible, and 2) I want every ex-client to be referenceable. To me, that seems common-sensical enough, but I'm disgusted by how many outside vendors don't share that approach to clients, whether through price gouging, incompetence, non-responsiveness, or just plain dishonesty.

It's not that there's a shortage of ethical codes, just a shortage of adherence to them. Codes abound, from ethical guidelines for management consulting and search engine optimization, public relations and blogging.

My personal contribution to the genre would be:

- Start with an honest assessment of your strengths. No single individual can be good at everything, even with a narrowly-defined area such as website design. Accept projects only in your strength areas; you'll be more likely to avoid delivering poor quality work.

- Develop a network of talented people in your non-strength areas. Closely related to the point above, in some cases you'll want to be able to bid on a larger project. By having a network, you can take on these projects and still provide quality. Plus, you'll have other talented individuals referring work to you in their non-strength areas.

- Price fairly. It's not only ethically wrong, but just doesn't make good business sense, to overcharge a client for short-term gain while sacrificing long-term loyalty and referenceability.

Trust goes a long way in maintaining current business and generating new projects. It's hard to get it back once it's lost, so it's better not to lose it in the first place.


Terms: marketing consulting code of ethics, management consultant ethics, public relations, blogging

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