Clients engage marketing/creative agencies to get our expertise on how to market their product or service. And often clients don’t want to hear our opinion on marketing their product or service. It’s a fine line to walk and a balance. But it’s doable in 5 easy verbs.
A client’s opinion is pivotal in any marketing, brand and messaging. BUT – And, this is a big but, a client may be approaching their marketing from a very personal and reactive position. For instance, in small business direct feedback from customers is only at arm’s length. Thus causing an immediate reaction that the messaging was wrong, the product or service is bad; forcing unlimited rounds of changes, delayed launch or implementation, and lost time and dollars for both the marketer and the client.
Therefore, it’s up to us, the marketers and creative teams, to educate our clients. It’s the most important part of the client relationship. Marketing and creative is not just about pretty pictures, social media and the best ad. It’s about taking control of the process in which you’re the expert.
- Organize your client – Take charge of client meetings and prepare and agenda that outlines tasks, follow-up and a timeline with deliverables. Highlight their responsibility with deadlines as well and hold them to those dates.
- Educate your client and their key personnel in marketing decisions – Many times it’s the internal front line giving business owners feedback. But is the feedback constructive or just a complaint with no basis? Let’s face it, many consumers like to complain just because. Teach your client how to “tune out” the negative and dissect complaints to extract the constructive feedback. At the end of the day, that’s what helps with improving a product or service, as well as fine tuning the marketing message.
- Manage your time and the client’s money – Unless you’re Pepsi, Coke, Nike, or another brand giant, your time and your client’s time is priceless. Small business owners have to trust and rely on professional marketers’ expertise to put them in the right marketing direction. More than likely they don’t have an unlimited budget like the giants to perform focus groups, review multiple rounds of concepts and changes, or be able to invest in multiple marketing channels to tout their product or service.
- Control the process – Many times the process becomes a viscous cycle between you and your client. Before you know it you’re delayed on your own efforts and deliverables. Be effective and efficient from the beginning – you’re the expert and you should control the marketing process. You need to move things along – again, time is money for both sides.
- Communicate often and honestly – Communication is a 2-way street. Unless there’s clarity and honesty on both sides and that includes the hard stuff to say and hear, both parties will fail when it comes to launch time. Be proactive in soliciting your client’s feedback quickly.
The client relationship is complex. But keeping these 5 verbs as a roadmap, you’ll quickly prove your integrity, expertise and that you’re working in the client’s best interest.