Who Buys Shoes From a Barefoot Cobbler?


Would you buy shoes from a barefoot cobbler? Or order meat from a vegetarian butcher? Or get fitness advice from an over-weight trainer? Or pay for social media consulting from a company whose blog is three months out-of-date? Me neither, but apparently those minor details don’t bother everyone.

I was looking at the website of one of the big consulting firms and couldn’t help but notice the poor design of the career portion of their web site. Maybe it’s a case of the cobbler’s shoes – they are spending so much time helping paying clients retool and improve their IT operations that they have no free time or expertise available to fix their own site.

If it is merely a case of being too busy to get to around to fixing their own website, it’s short-sighted. Right now most companies aren’t having any problems filling their vacancies given the flood of highly qualified applicants, but that worm will turn (it always does) and within 9-18 months this firm and many others will be hungry for quality applicants. When that happens a career web site that is difficult to use might be enough to push those applicants to a competing firm. At the same time you have to wonder about the quality of advice and counsel from a firm that demonstrably doesn’t follow it’s own advice.

If in fact the firm is not actually too busy to fix the website problems, most likely the case given how many consultants are on the bench right now or being laid off, and instead the firm is totally oblivious to the website’s issues, that raises greater concerns.  If a firm doesn’t know or care about how they present themselves to the outside world, what makes you think that the quality of their advice and work will be of the highest quality? As the proverb says “Physician heal thyself”. But healing takes time and resources – something always in short supply when budgets are tight and getting smaller.

If a company is pegging the Hypocrisy meter, why are you doing business with them?

Winning the internal battles necessary to invest resources – time, money and expertise – in anything that isn’t directly revenue generating is always a hard sell, but it’s even harder during a downturn. However it is those companies which invest now, that will see the biggest payoffs once things turn around since they’ll be properly positioned to take advantage of the increase in business.

Unfortunately it’s not just large consulting firms who make mistakes like these. I recently came across a social media consultancy with a great name, nicely designed website and a blog that hadn’t been updated in three months. Now I’m not a self-coined social media expert, but one of the lessons everyone learns about social media is that you just don’t abandon your efforts without notice  if you want to be taken seriously. The company talks about the various services they offer including the return on marketing, promotions, etc – yet they have no Twitter presence, no Facebook presence, nothing on Tumblr, nada on Flickr, and so on. I’m not sure what this particular consultancy is trying to accomplish and whether it is still an ongoing concern or if we are just looking at a Zombie website from a failed startup. Either way, the fact that those questions pop into the viewer’s head should be causes for concern.

Of course taking the time to follow your own advice and counsel is hard which is why not everyone does it. But being internally consistent pays dividends over the long run separating the true believers from the pretenders. After all if someone recommends X, but actually does Y – why should you listen them? 

So do you have any stories about companies or consultants who say one thing while doing another? Let me know. -t

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