How do those who have spent more than $20,000 on a consulting project that did not involve an RFP find the consultant they hired?
I think those of us in the marketing advice game deal with some challenging biases:
- If we advise on the basis of our own local experience (ex: "this worked for me", or "these firms I know about and admire are doing X and Y") then we may miss better options that are outside our local awareness.
- If we advise based on aesthetics (ex: "content marketing feels like the most honest way to generate opportunity because....") then we may give poorly-matched or bad advice.
- If we look at firm financial performance and model what the winners in that race do, we may model correctly for a certain context but incorrectly for a different context, or we may miss factors that are ultimately more influential than how those firms approach marketing.
- If we use the same sampling method and gather memory-based data from the winners, we may get Halo Effect-skewed data, though this is a minor risk given that many marketing activities have track-able results and somewhat more objectively-measurable inputs.
I believe that researching the buying side of a consulting transaction may provide more useful data and insight. This is somewhat in the spirit of How Clients Buy - A Practical Guide to Business Development for Consulting and Professional Services
Use a grounded theory method. Interview 30 people who made the decision to buy >$20k of consulting services without using an RFP process. Recruit these interviewees using a medium-length survey that will gather qualitative data, incidentally producing well over 30 data points of a less rich and nuanced quality in the process.
(A core assumption here is that "no RFP-involved" is a good proxy for "not-yet-commoditized or completely un-commoditized solution space".)
Thinking through the recruitment:
LinkedIn 1-question recruiting poll
Q: Have you ever hired an independent consultant for a project larger than $20K without using a RFP?
A2: No, but I know someone at my employer who has