Whether you’re thinking of starting your own agency or have already made the leap, you will be building an extensive network of clients. With an extensive network comes the inevitable- navigating differing client relationships. Communicating with a new or difficult client can be a daunting task, even with prior experience. Your goal is to provide the highest caliber service to each client. But with differing needs and relationships, this can be difficult to navigate.
Why are some clients difficult to convince?
So how can you deal with a client that is difficult to communicate with? Perhaps they don’t understand what they need. Maybe they simply think they need a one-and-done job — “just a basic website/logo/brochure/etc.”. But rest assured, they came to you. This implies that on some level, they understand the value of your expertise and technical ability. It’s now your job as the expert to dissect what their objectives, goals, and worries are to provide valuable insight and clarity. In turn, this will manifest a uniquely crafted branding and marketing strategy.
Still, some clients may meet your advice with resistance. Remember, don’t convince, prescribe. The best course of action is to have an open and honest discussion with them about their brand’s vision and business goals. Make it clear early on that you intend to have a collaborative relationship, working towards a common goal — helping them achieve their objectives and developing a cohesive strategy.
When having the open and honest conversation, be sure to listen to their pain points:
- What has been working for them vs. what hasn’t been?
- What do they hope to achieve from the relationship?
- What are their goals or objectives?
- What is their long-term vision?
We really want to prescribe their needs. Think about your doctor for a second. You go to him/her with a problem; they evaluate you before giving a diagnosis with a suitable treatment plan that fits your specific needs. It would raise some eyebrows if you walked into their office and immediately, without any evaluation, you received a prescription for medications. Certainly, a lack of trust would soon develop.
As you work with your client keep in mind that people like working with people they trust. A hesitant client does not suddenly open up to an agency that comes off as though they are pushing their own agenda — or worse yet, a hard sell. Instead, your client should view the services provided as the tools needed to get to an intended goal. Over time, it will provide value for both parties. Getting a good understanding of what they are looking for and the strategy to help will earn their trust. Be confident in what you are offering but also be patient. After all the client’s primary pain point is to overcome their marketing strategy woes. Your objective as their chosen agency is to help facilitate the process, bringing about clarity, vision, and a plan.
Steps to diagnose client needs
At Krative, we refer to the initial step as our Discovery Process. Essentially it’s a consultation where we dissect the client’s marketing pain points by asking the important questions to best understand how to prescribe their needs.
Here are some great questions you can start asking your clients:
You can’t hope to serve your clients if you don’t understand what it is they offer.
A. Identify who their target markets are:
Who is your client serving? Often we will find that it is not so much what they do that makes them unique but why they do it. As a team develop customer personas mirroring their ideal customer, which will aid in developing the strategy.
Really understand what drives the client to provide the value they do. Understanding their why is a great way to understand their passion, and may be used to remind them not to stray from a clearly defined strategy designed around their objectives.
Are they focused in their marketing efforts, or are they trying a bunch of unaligned tactics? Knowing what works and what doesn’t will aid you in curating a cohesive branding and marketing strategy.
As mentioned previously, make sure both of you are on the same page in terms of what is expected of the relationship. Make this distinction early. Educate and work with them in all areas; you may find they don’t know what they don’t know.
Always establish your expertise and make sure what you’re offering is providing some sort of value.
We use a Core Values Sorting Exercise to walk our clients through identifying their values. To start, we lay out a collection of cards; each card has an adjective written on it and the client chooses the cards that best reflect how they see their company, or how they would like it to be perceived. The objective of the exercise is to get them thinking about and reinforcing their core values.
These questions are only a representative sample of what may be asked. Feel free to use this as a framework for your discovery process to assess what it is your client does, what they are hoping to achieve from marketing, and how you can apply your expertise to the information gathered. With a relationship built on the foundation of expertise and strategic planning, you will be able to create a cohesive branding and marketing strategy— just as we do at Krative.
So the next time you encounter a client that is difficult to communicate with, you will not only possess the expertise but also a focused framework to provide clarity, vision, and a plan that best prescribes the clients needs.
For more insight into our discovery process as well as our complete process, check out Krative’s Methodology Page.