We’ve all been in a strategy session or meeting with a new or current client and they begin to show you a website, or project related to your area of expertise that they think is fantastic. However, upon further inspection, you realize how bad it looks and feels for their specific brand.
What do you do when the client won’t rely on your subject matter expertise? It’s a tough call. After all, they are paying the bill for your time and services. However, integrity and professionalism dictate that we be honest with our clients about what will work for them and what won’t.
Their choice or idea may actually be working for the business or organization they admire, but deep within your gut and based on your experience you know it’s just not going to work for them. Instead of getting into an argument try to identify the elements they like about it and seek to incorporate them into your strategy in a different way. For example, if it’s a website the call to action may be really weak, but the sliders may be really good. You could talk about the sliders and how you might incorporate them into your design.
One of the best ways to overcome bad ideas and suggestions is to ask for some time to provide ideas you think will work best. Then get your team assembled and blow them away with excellence that not only captures who they are but exceeds their expectations. Provide value to the customer or client and you will never regret it.
In our world content and design go hand in hand. Great content can’t overcome an average look and feel. Neither can a great site overcome weak content. It’s not either, or, but both, and. This is why smaller firms have an advantage over larger firms. The writer and designers are in the same room and on the same page. They talk about possible designs and ideas for content and get a feel for what the other is doing. Their unified effort is based on an overall strategy that maximizes the client’s strengths and seeks to improve their growing edges. When both are working together the client is the winner and hero.
Every client thinks his/her product or service is the best. And most of the time this rings true. However, every once in a while upon closer investigation and research, they aren’t delivering what they promise, the product is mediocre, or the organizational culture is unhealthy. This is a tough decision because you have to decide if you are going to help this client improve and grow their business both internally and externally and you’ve got to be able to discern if they are open to change. Let’s be honest, most people resist change. A small section of the people in the workplace, government, non/for-profits embrace meaningful change. They are continually seeking ways to improve their products or services, customer service, organizational culture, and marketing efforts. These are the ones who tend to be more successful, have a strong culture, extraordinary customer service, and empower their people.
But what if the prospective client is unwilling to change or heed your advice? You’ve got to know when to walk away. Those in business with some gray hair and battle scars aren’t afraid to shake hands and say no thank you. Why? Because they’ve personally experienced the customer or client who is unwilling to learn or listen and they know what’s ahead. After time in any business, you get a strong sense of potential clients that could be overbearing, too demanding, and downright toxic. Walking away will inevitably save time and money. Demanding and constructively critical clients are not the point here. Those clients help you grow and keep you fresh. But toxic clients can be risky because they will consume all of your attention, make unrealistic demands, and ultimately beat a line to the competition where they will act the same.
Seek to educate your clients as you provide wisdom and insights from your area of expertise. This provides value to the client or customer which is what they want. By providing value you increase their ROI and provide measurable results. Fight for them every day and work hard to build a long-term relationship that builds trust.
There’s an old saying, “a wise person heeds instruction, but a fool rejects it.” We don’t tell a plumber, HVAC, attorney, nurse, etc., how to do their job. So why would we tell someone who is a subject matter expert in their field how to do theirs?
Monty Carter is a Storyteller and Brand Strategist for WebSpeak Media a digital marketing agency in Greer, South Carolina. WebSpeak specializes in website design and development, SEO, content marketing, social media management, and much more. WebSpeak has been helping clients tell their stories and increase brand awareness for over 20 years.