Fail and Grow Rich!
Business can be rewarding. Even entertaining. But sometimes, it can be downright weird. And stories like this one are the weirdest because it's entirely true. I'm publishing this one because undoubtedly, there will come a time when you experience something like this and nobody will believe you.
We're all taught to believe that success is derived from mature, smart, insightful people. However, as you're about to find out, that's not necessarily so. In Hollywood, for example, a producer can have one major hit, spend the rest of his career perpetually failing, yet still get work based on his one early success. In my own travels, I've found much the same thing. One success is all it takes to justify dozens of failures. Experiences like the one you're about to read are becoming increasingly common.
I wouldn't have believed this phone call myself had I not been a part of it. The person on the line was a prospective client who clearly thought my rates were too high. I've changed one name here, because you'd know him in a heartbeat. Otherwise, the paraphrasing is as close to verbatim as it gets:
PROSPECT: Rob, I really want to work with you, but let me tell you what happened with another company of mine a while back. We had a branding problem, so we went straight to John Fish, the marketing legend. Spent a whole day with him. Paid his full rate. He gave us a solution which we tried for six months.
ME: How did that work out?
PROSPECT: It failed, miserably. So we went back to John and spent another full day with him. Paid him for another full day and he gave us another solution. A different one.
ME: Really? How did that work out?
PROSPECT: Well, after six more months, that one didn't do the job, either. So we went back one more time, paid his full rate and he gave us another solution.....
PROSPECT: That one failed, too. So finally, we just huddled around a conference table and eventually came up with a strategy that actually worked!
ME: Wow, that's great! So you mean you paid John Fish three different times over a year and a half and he failed every time?
PROSPECT: Yep. And now, with our current company, I've brought in two different branding agencies. Paid them both their full rates....
ME: ...but since you and I are talking, I'm assuming they both failed, too?
ME: Wow. So, if I'm doing the math correctly, you lost three full rate sessions using John Fish, plus the roughly eighteen months of revenue he cost you because his recommendations failed. And now, for your current company, you've paid two branding agencies their full rates, and they've failed, as well?
PROSPECT: Yes, that's accurate.
ME: Hmmmm....so if I've got this right, you'll pay consultants and agencies their full rates for failing, but you want to pay me half my rate because I'm a real, proven branding expert with a successful track record who doesn't fail?
ME: You still there? Hello?