I recently had a rough experience with an amazing client that I truly enjoyed working with. We seemed to hit it off from the moment we met. We shared an enthusiasm for our projects and most importantly – a level of trust in one another that made the work easy.
But as in love, we can be blinded by a situation that just “feels right” and in business, that’s dangerous. We can be blinded by emotions and feelings that come from wanting to make a client happy, but we can forget the real reasons we are hired – and it ain’t love.
In this case, the client wanted greater brand recognition, a more dynamic website and a strategy to generate traffic to the site. We jumped in and began our research phase. How were they perceived? Who were the competitors? Was their mission muddied by conflicting messages or general confusion? Plus, they worked with teens – did their message resonate with youth as well?
We found that they would need a very unique message in order to stand out in a competitive search engine landscape. They needed an angle that would grab attention and set them apart – and that’s where the misunderstandings seem to have begun.
We devised a story concept that took a humorous approach and involved multiple characters. We suggested a series of videos shorts to tell the story. We would use the videos to promote the site. They seemed to love the idea.
We should have clarified why that concept was so important.
Just as the videos were completed – the client told me of changes in policy that made our humor-based approach seem ill-timed.
I heard them – but I didn’t understand them. I asked that they watch the videos before a final decision was made. I didn’t better explain the SEO or how important the video was to our strategy for helping them increase recognition for their organization. They heard me, but didn’t understand how the two projects were integral to one another.
I felt certain they would see the videos and all would be well again.
Sadly – that was not to be. The client concerns remained and they no longer trusted the strategy we had agreed to. They simply wanted to move on to finalizing the website.
The website design became a shell of its original vision. With all of our concepts shelved – we struggled to find a new path for their SEO goals. We had no angle for content and no options outside the website to drive traffic. Of course, we understood these issues – but our client did not and we hadn’t adequately explained the importance of how both projects were intertwined.
The time for understanding was over – we parted ways.
You see, client and customer interactions are relationship based. And just like a relationship, without good communication, it can fall apart. We broke up – and it ended badly.
So, what can you do in this situation? I’m making a New Year’s resolution – more communication, less assumptions, better explanations, more guidance. What’s your business resolution? Let’s make 2013 great!
Leah Goold-Haws is the Creative Director/Marketing Strategist for LGH Marketing/Strategy. Leah’s experience has included campaign development and strategy implementation for multi-agency collaboratives, corporations and non-profits as well as entrepreneurs and small business clients. You can now meet with Leah at the Small Business Development Center. The SBDC provides low or no cost business assistance. Schedule an appointment today by calling 242-7630.