Marketers are known for working across a variety of fields, but whether you work in strategy, accounts, data, or any agency function, you’ve probably dealt with a client with more challenging needs than they see.
Picture that client and try answering these five simple questions:
1. Where do they see themselves in 5 years?
2. What are their strengths and weaknesses in market?
3. Who are their competitors? – Listing strengths and weaknesses of one company
4. What is their target audience? – Based on behaviour and psychology not demographics
5. Can you explain their main product or service in under 15 seconds?
If a question is struggling to be answered, it is important that greater time is to be invested in learning about your client's business, and more importantly them as people, their culture, and what they plan to achieve.
We are living in a time where we are seeing increased inter-connectivity, artificial digitally-linked realities, and an unprecedented level of access to information, all thanks to vast societal improvements. With these monumental changes, clients are approaching business differently, partly because marketers are no longer just seen as communication specialists, but entrepreneurs as well.
One vision of the entrepreneur is growth, with that person always, always asking questions:
Will this idea or knowledge positively affect my business through market share?
Will it foster innovation?
Will it drive profits up?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these (or even all of them), the next step is the why, followed shortly with a plan. These plans can lead to great things, not to mention more enthusiasm for a project, clinching the follow-up question of “what next?”
However, if the answer is ‘no’, the approach is to refocus and do more research. This simple principle allows marketers to provide improved diversifications in ideas and execution, development of practical insights, and a higher focus on practical change that can be embedded into their client’s business. More importantly, though, it shows the importance of understanding your client’s core goals and needs by remaining curious and compiling compelling research about their business and industry.
A poll conducted by Harris Interactive furthered this, asking clients how important it was for agencies to understand their business objectives. Unsurprisingly, 65% answered ‘extremely important’, illustrating a truth that fundamentally suggests there needs to be a level of experience and knowledge that should be brought to the table by agencies.
A bigger question lingers, and it’s one that can inspire confidence to even the most wavering of prospects: how do you work to become the entrepreneur that your client has always wanted?
Everyone — every marketer and every entrepreneur — will have their own approach. After time in the industry, my six are as follows:
Active listening: ensure you always ask questions, and always ask why.
Do the basics right: no one likes to see the simple things executed poorly, so make sure you get these down perfect.
Understand their challenges: every client has different needs, and that means different challenges. Learn theirs and you’ll have an idea of the “what next”.
Know where they are heading: what next is crucial, because it determines where they want to go, and how you plan to get them there.
Know their interests: when the job is done, you as an entrepreneur — even an entrepreneurial marketing executive — will be able to suggest where to go and what to do that aligns with their interests. That’s your next project sorted, not to mention the trust associated with it.
Research, research, research.
Working in such a fast-paced industry, as marketers we sometimes have the tendency to be reactive rather than proactive, focusing on execution by avoiding the conversations that actually have the ability to grow our client’s businesses.
At the end of the day, the question of what I need to be is the one that inspires: am I the marketer or entrepreneur, or am I a combination of both, a powerhouse that can face any challenge.
Whatever we choose, rising up to the challenge and having the confidence to direct the client in the most beneficial direction is one that achieves an end result that has the potential to truly match their needs.