For my marketing materials, I know that it is always best to describe the significant performance improvements my clients have achieved due to my counsel. However, I don't know exactly how much to attribute to my work and how much to attribute to what the client would have achieved anyway.
This is a great question and one that clients looking at your marketing materials are likely asking themselves. If you review consultant collateral, some may contain statements like "Our technology solutions have created $250 million in cost savings for our clients." I have heard clients make fun of these statements by consultants, pointing out that the consultant, even under the best of circumstances, could not be responsible for anything close to that impact. Their point is that it is the person who has P/L responsibility who is responsible for this savings and the cost savings can be attributed to many sources other than the consultant.
The Latin phrase "Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc" is applicable to describe this fallacious thinking. It literally means "after this, therefore because of this," and implies that an event is attributable to an act that preceded it. My client increased sales by 20% in the year after I consulted to them, therefore I can say I added $XX in value to my client. Or, the sun rises each morning because my alarm clock goes off. Not so fast.Tip:
Be extremely careful about making claims like these. Clients, especially those who are really responsible for P/L numbers like those you would like to claim, will discount such statements. At best, assert your value in terms of what you actually did. For example, you can say that the accounting system you planned and installed reduced collection times by 45% or that the sales close rate increased by 20% in part because of you helped develop a new process to track prospects. Don't let your desire to impress people with your value become a negative. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA