WEWINSOME WELOSESOME It’s about persuasion,
respect and compromise. About knowing when to accept, when to question, when to fight… and how. We bring ideas to our clients. They like some and don’t like others. The ones they like, they do. The ones they do, they change. How we handle getting good ideas rejected or changed, is what this is all about.
1ST PRINCIPLES There are no
stupid clients And let’s face it, marketing isn’t rocket science anyway. A lot of our clients are not experienced marketers And may not be instinctive ones either. That’s not their fault. If a client makes the wrong decision, there’s only one cause: We’ve failed to convince them of the right option*. *If we keep failing over and over again, it’s probably the wrong client for us.
OPPOSINGIMPERATIVES This is a service
business: We make money by giving clients what they want (and getting them to want the right things). This is a consulting business: Our authority is our product. If we’re not respected as experts, we become hacks who deserve what we get.
*It’s a human thing. Even
if they don’t show it, clients often feel uncomfortable criticising our work. It’s stressful. They don’t want to appear unreasonable, picky, pedantic, ignorant or weak. THEYWANTTOBELIKED* For some clients, just being a client makes them feel insecure.
GOLDENOPPORTUNITIES So when a client
sticks their neck out and gives criticism, it’s the perfect opportunity to: Diffuse tension. Surprise them with how open we are. (and how passionate, when we fight our corner) Help them relax so they can listen to us too. Which will earn their gratitude and bank some points that can be spent on future projects.
HOWTO When they’re right, admit
it. When they’re wrong, point it out while showing you’re not being defensive or taking things personally. Have a sense of humour about it. Respect their their ability to be open, listen and change their mind. Don’t assume they’ll be closed-minded. Show that we know this is part of our job and we don’t resent it. Show we don’t feel smarter than them.
GIVINGIN(SOMETIMES) ISIMPORTANT It shows: We’re
open and professional. We understand it’s their right to change things. We respect their opinion and understand their agenda. We’re realists. We know that politics and egos can lead to unwanted outcomes. We have perspective: knowing when and when not to push. So we should actively look for places where giving in gracefully is easy and doesn’t hurt the project.
RESISTING(SOMETIMES) ISJUSTASIMPORTANT It shows that
we: Care about quality and effectiveness. Care about their business not just our portfolio. Made choices based on solid reasoning. Evaluate options rationally (by holding them up against goals and taking the target audience’s point of view). So actively looking for times to resist the wrong changes is important too. it justifies our fees.
EVERYONELIKESTOBE LIKEDANDRESPECTED.* *Duh. We all
want colleagues to say behind our backs: “SHE’SGREATTOWORKWITH.SMART,FAIR,OPEN&FRIENDLY.” And the best way to encourage a client to be these things is to exhibit them ourselves. If clients feel we’re saying this (and they can tell), they’ll love working with us. If they feel the opposite, they’ll loathe it.
The best way to make
a client do this about us is to do it about them. No one wants to think we’re hanging up the phone, calling them a wanker, and rolling our eyes -(
BOTTOMLINE This is a service
business. We have to give the client what they want – but it’s our job to get them to want the right things. If we resist their input too much, they’ll think we’re arrogant and they’ll take their work to an agency that will listen. If we resist too little, they lose confidence in our expertise and we lose control of the relationship. PUSHINGBACKCONSTRUCTIVELYISESSENTIALTOOURSUCCESS.
SOMEUSEFULPHRASES “Of course we can
do that, but what about…” “If we came up with a way to solve that issue without damaging XYZ, would you be open to it?” “I completely see where you’re coming from, but it physically hurts me to change ‘sell’ to ‘generate incremental revenue opportunities’.” “Okay, I lost this one but you can’t say I didn’t give it my best shot.” “I understand what you’re up against. What if we…”
CALLINGINREINFORCEMENTS You don’t have to
manage the client relationship on your own. If you’re losing a big one, bringing in reinforcements and escalating the discussion can help. It can also blow up spectaculary, covering everyone in the thick slime that is, after all, the essence of this zany marketing game.
If the relationship sours, it's
usually our fault and it makes everything harder. If the relationship is open, trusting and postiive, there's nothing we can't do together. WE’REL CKYTO HAVEOURCLIENTS GOODLUCKOUTTHERE. ANDTHEY’RELUCKYTOHAVEUS