When it comes to client expectations, just keep digging
Think you know what a client wants? Keep digging. Because there may be another motivation beneath the surface that will torpedo your ability to meet their expectations.
I often receive enquiries from businesses to develop an “SEO strategy” or a “social media strategy”.
Which is great as these are both services I offer. However, I’ve learnt there is a need to dig a little deeper before providing a proposal and committing to certain deliverables.
While I love them both, ‘SEO’ and ‘social media’ are popular buzz words, and things that many businesses think they need.
And they may need them.
"I learnt again recently that there is value in digging further again."
But often, there is a difference between what a client thinks they need, and what they really need.
All it takes is a quick conversation to discover that a client asking for ‘social media help’ really wants ‘more ‘cold’ online business leads’.
Knowing that, along with their target audiences, available resources, and budget, allows me to create much more tailored digital marketing recommendations.
Then dig again
A few months ago, however, I went through the above process with a business that initially got in touch asking for an SEO and social media strategy.
Following our initial discussion, it became evident that a more well-rounded approach would be beneficial, leveraging a range of digital marketing tactics, including SEO, social media, Google Adwords and email marketing, coupled with some comprehensive digital reporting to understand the results and refine the ongoing marketing strategy.
Sounds good, huh?
We implemented this strategy (which was also recommended as a medium to long term strategy) and began to attract some good results, with growth in traffic, and slight increase in online enquiries (tracking online enquiries wasn’t previously installed, so measuring the difference here was a little grey).
But the client wasn’t happy.
An industry peer of theirs continued to rank higher than them for a particular search term.
The peer wasn’t a geographic competitor, so hadn’t appeared in my assessment, and hadn’t been mentioned initially. But they really rubbed my client the wrong way.
Every improvement we made was marred by the appearance of this website in search results.
I explained that particular website had a fairly solid strategy with a few years’ head start on my client which would make it difficult to catch up. (Not impossible, of course, but definitely not an overnight deal).
They should have been happy with the results, but they weren’t, and unfortunately it rubbed off on me.
My silver lining?
I now know to ask clients what they really, REALLY want … and to keep digging until I understand their most base motivation for doing what they’re asking me to do.
It may not be something I can always achieve, but it will most certainly provide an insight in what drives them, and whether or not I can actually help achieve their goals.
Have you ever thought you’d dug deep enough with a client, only to find you should’ve dug further?