Why you should give away your intellectual property to educate your clients.

I’ve had an ongoing discussion with people in consulting who don’t put their best consulting thinking into proposals or definitely wouldn’t release it as marketing.

I think it’s a mistake.

I think you really have two choices when you’re working with clients, and when you’re writing proposals –

  1. You can be the consultant who is educating your client and demonstrating the best thinking.
  2. You can be the consultant that doesn’t really demonstrate expertise in the problems your client is dealing with.

When framed like that, I think it’s clear which is the better choice.

Not educating your clients relies on the idea that you’ll exist in a market where no one will try and educate them. While I don’t think that market exists, if it did, there would be a tremendous first mover advantage in being the one who decided to educate clients.

The other side of the coin is what happens to the second mover after you’ve started educating your clients. The reaction that the second mover is going to get is “yep, first mover already told us about that, do you have anything new and interesting or can we stop this now?”

When you think about it like this, every insightful bit of marketing communication and every educational brief you give your clients is actually eating your competitors lunch.

You can have them thinking one of two things when a second mover tried to provide insight:

  1. “These guys (your competitor) know their stuff!”
  2. “First mover already told us that.”

To me, it’s obvious which one of these you want to be.

I also don’t think it will make a huge difference to sales numbers.

There are always going to be clients who will suck up your IP and use it to do things themselves, for the vast majority though, the problem they have isn’t that they don’t know what to do, it’s that they lack experience in doing it (know-how as opposed to know-what), and they don’t have the people time to get it done.

To me, this means that there’s only really one thing to do – educate your clients as much as you can. Help them find certainty so that when the moment hits and they don’t know what to do, there’s only one place they’re going to go – you. I am certain that the gains outweigh the costs.


Author: Karl Melrose

Thinker about how to think about information governance, economics, security, risk, technology and incentives. Out to solve every optimising problem, out to make sure my thinking gets better, every day. Information Governance, Management and Records Management at informationgovernance.blog. Random thoughts at karlmelrose.blog

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