One of the best pieces of professional advice I ever received was from my former boss at Red Agency, Neil Travers* who told me “Clients don’t want to hear ‘no’.”
Outrageous? No. Unexpected? No. An altogether unique perspective? N-O. In fact, his counsel was basically a sibling to the most recited business rule: The Customer is Always Right (PS. They’re not). So, why have these words stayed with me so prominently some 10 years later?
I had always been trained to demonstrate my value as an experienced, skilled PR and marketing communications specialist by guiding my clients to their goals often after rerouting them slightly from their unrealistic expectations (full feature in BRW/Time/Wall Street Journal to announce an upgraded product anyone). In the biz, this is called ‘managing expectations’ and often necessary. And often sounds a lot like ‘no’.
If not ‘no’, what should our clients and customers (both present, past and potential) hear from us?
The answer: they should hear what they want to hear.
Our constituents come to us because they are under the impression we can give them what they want. We need to use our expertise to help them. Rather than reciting our credentials and informing them that we’ve done it in a better way for someone else before, we should assure them we can meet their needs, advise and inspire them to the best of our abilities.
Present your products. Make your case. Give them tips. Direct them to industry intelligence. Show them examples.
Use direct mail; electronic mail; newsletters and magazines; exciting product packaging, exhibitions and demonstrations; white papers; advertising; bend their ears over lunch or for coffee; workshops; impact mail; pop up shops; reverse pitches; Facebook; blogs; Instagram; Pinterest; Twitter.
This may sound like semantics, but the meaning people derive from the message is in the delivery. Communicate well and positively and they will keep coming back.
*Neil now co-owns his vineyard, Waratah Hills (aka even more reason to look up to him).