Recently, a large company whose name you would instantly recognize (but whom I won't name) was about to merge and transition their business and their brand. They had brought in a well-known advertising agency (whom I also won't name) to help them manage the transition.
The ad agency returned with 14 different campaigns to promote the change. They presented a heartfelt campaign, a financial-focused campaign, a time-saving campaign, an environmental advantages campaign, a trendy campaign, and nine other directions.
Each recommendation used a different strategy and a different creative message.
The company's CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) was impressed with all the work the agency had done. The CEO was confused. Not knowing which direction to go in is why they called me and asked if I could help them create a strategic direction that would solve their problem.
For the next week I did nothing but use their product, learn about their business, and work on different strategic directions. Finally, I returned with one strategic direction. My presentation included the reasons I thought the solution made sense and all of the different ways it could be used to help them get the most from their merger.
When I was done presenting, the CEO stared for a minute..
“Wow.” He said. “I've never seen anything like that before.”
The CMO wasn't nearly as laconic.
“Well I don't know,” she word vomited. “I mean I like it, I guess, but it's so simple. Could we do that? I mean it doesn't talk about our pricing strategy; it doesn't talk about our commercial programs. It doesn't tell our consumers about our future plans or all of the new products we're going to be releasing. It doesn't really even talk about us, does it, it talks about our buyers. Which is nice, I guess, and they'll like it, sure, but how about our investors? I mean, what'll they think? How about the board of directors? Doesn't the board have to like it? Should we check with them?”
She held her hand up and looked up thoughtfully. “Wait. I know. Why don't we print it out and hang the ideas on the wall in the conference room? Then we could bring in all our employees and see what they think. They could help us decide.”
She looked into the distance. No one else spoke, so she said softly: “I've never seen anything like that before.”
Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is confusing.
For years we've been told that knowledge is power. And big data has shown us that whomever has the most information also has the biggest advantage. After all, it's not just the “data,” it's the “big” that makes the data so powerful.
But when it comes to professional services, your clients don't want lots of choices. They want the best solution. And even though there's often more than one right way to solve a problem, your clients are coming to you for your best recommendation.
When you call a plumber, you don't want to debate the benefits of copper, galvanized, or PVC fittings. You want your leak to stop quickly, inexpensively, and permanently.
When you hire an attorney, you don't want an in-depth dissertation on contract law. You want the best advice on how to create an ironclad deal.
When you hire a keynote speaker, you don't want a rambling presentation careening from point to point to point. You want an enlightening presentation that entertains your audience and gives them actionable information they can take with them.
Your clients come to you for your best recommendation, not a choice of 14 different ways to solve a problem.
Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is confusing. Your clients come to you for solutions.