4 Elements for Managing Client Expectations Successfully

Good morning all – Jean and I had a great discussion during our video blog yesterday and we hope you enjoy it.  However, if you don’t have time to watch it or take notes, we’d like to share some of the key points made.  The next time you take on a new client, consider these questions or issues to raise, dialogue about and seek answers to in order to successfully manage your clients expectations.

1st Element: Understanding Who Your Client Really Is

A. Find out the type of personality they have & how they best communicate (email, text, telephone or in person).
B. Through discussions, try to extract the purpose of the website and their business goals even if they aren’t clear on them.
C. Stress the importance of branding & being clear about their business identity & its goals so that the website and/or branding efforts are successful.

2nd Element: Brand Identity & Strategic Marketing Initiatives

A. What’s the vision of the company?
B. Who do they believe their customers & consumers are?
C. What do they think their consumers & audience want to see & expect from them?
D. Take the initiative through dialogue/research to get a firm understanding of their product or service and how they want to market it.
E. What are the goals they want their website and branding to achieve?

3rd Element: Setting Client Expectations for the Project

A. What is the projected costs & overall budget (with wiggle room)?
B. What are the time frames for benchmarks and completion?
C. Are you requesting and receiving all relevant content for each page of your website upfront? Consider how this affects time & workflow of project.
D. Are their images web-worthy (i.e. are clear, look professional), of high-resolution and large enough to scale down for editing if needed?
E. Have you established a good client relationship that can endure project delays and/or disappointments?
F. Can that rapport endure if there are issues with responsiveness from the client that affect workflow, benchmarks & completion dates?

4th Element: Clients Expectation for ROI

A. Make sure you set realistic expectations of the actual ROI and timeframe in which they might see the fruits of their investment.
B. What do you do with a client that has unrealistic expectations of ROI?
C. Explain why advertising their website is crucial once it is launched and the need for continued marketing efforts.
– They need figure out how they are going to notify current customers about their new website.
– Make announcements via Social Media platforms.
– Invest in marketing materials that reflect an online, worldwide presence.
D. Encourage them to think outside the box to market their website.
– If you’re a Mom & Pop, consider Small Business Association meetings, posting marketing materials in coffee houses & restaurant/business lobbies.
E. All businesses need to focus on and execute strategic customer outreach campaigns to see profitable ROI.

The Wrap Up 
Bullseye  It’s important to set the expectations from both parties from the beginning.
Bullseye  Set your workflow & do your best to stick to it.
Bullseye Hold your clients accountable for their website’s success.  Help them understand that the success of their website requires THEIR initiative, drive
& passion for THEIR business.
Bullseye Remember, good content does wonders for customer engagement and willingness to purchase the product or service.
Bullseye Understand it’s about client relationship & the longevity of that relationship.

Design Theory References on This Topic
They Trust Me, They Trust Me Not? A Client Relationship & Retention Discussion
Navigating Troubled Client Waters in Web Design

Reinvent Your Content…Part I

Bright Lights Big City…NYC – it beckons hope, energy and creativity.  I remember arriving for my first big job at NASDAQ -I felt like I could do any & everything with hard work, tenacity and a great resume.  Some years later I started a small home-based business which grew considerably in the first 6 months and I was pleased with its progress.  But then after the first full year, it just…leveled off.  Not down, not up – just…STAGNANT.  Leveraging those experiences, I now assist new & ever-growing companies with their content strategies as well as those stuck in their own quagmire of stagnant content on their website and branding materials.  As a result, the lessons I learned about the success & initially unnoticed failures have helped me help others avoid the quicksand.

We all start out the gate at top speed – shooting on all 4 cannons with creativity, hutzpah and the excitement that surges like the jumbotron in Times Square.  But knowing that as any business grows, you need to keep focused on consistent evolution in both your business model and the content on your website & marketing materials.  In the Reinvent Your Content series, I will highlight some of the key elements worthy of consideration, to move your content (and business) forward on a consistent basis so that as time, Social Media and technology evolves, you will be on board with progressive motion.

Realize Stagnation When You See It~ Pond Scum…Ouch!  Now I would never refer to the content on anyone’s website or marketing materials in such a tasteless manner. However, a business website can’t just put some stellar content on there and think thats it!  I’m all set – ready to grow like eBay’s IPO.  Even if you have William Faulkner-like skills when it comes to writing (or employing someone who does), one go around the bend will not be enough to reflect a business/company that is evolving with the times & technology.  Fresh content on a regular basis is an ABSOLUTE MUST and that’s not always easy to get across to clients who are happy with the work you’ve done the first time around.  When we think about the success of let’s say Apple (dare we?),we all acknowledge that Steve Jobs was nothing short of sheer genius-bubbling with overflowing creativity & endless ideas.  But it was his appetite for constant evolution and challenging his whole company to make Apple products better, faster with seemingly limitless capabilities.  It is this tenacity that consistently kept (and continues to keep) the company wow’ing the consumer while driving sales to unprecedented heights. So the moral here is to know that your content MUST GROW, EVOLVE & MORPH to keep the attention and business of your consumers.

Trial, Error & Rebuilding~ Most people are familiar with the word “troubleshooting” and many understand it in the context of problem recognition & solution.  The same approach should be taken when looking at your business, it’s success or lack thereof.  If your client base is not growing (or your profit margin), if client retention is an issue, or if sales are stationary, these are all red flags that require some assessment, realigning your goals and then plan implementation to chart your business boat in a new direction.  A quote from my own business & life philosophy = There’s no shame in failing – the shame is when you recognize it but don’t react to it.  And remember, data never lies.  Want to know if your content strategies are working?  Just look at your analytics, ROI and how many new customers you’ve gained in the last 6 months.  There’s nothing wrong with scrapping the old, trying the new and testing the waters accordingly.  Not every piece or facet of content works all the time.  Be willing to find out if its working or not, go back to the drawing board to figure out why and jump in the think tank to come up with creative ways to solve the issues.  This is where your pull from your team resources, be willing to hear multiple ideas and put the best ones into play.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Henry Ford

Join me in the discussion by commenting on this blog and letting me know how you reinvent your content or would like to.


Headlines and Imagery – William Levy & the Queen of England?

See even the title causes a little stir & I’ve got a hunch that I’ve succeeded at the initial point of this blog.  Since everyone these days has a blog about something or another, in order for your blog to get real traffic, you need to create some really compelling headlines and content. And that’s what allows your blog to flourish and your analytic report to make you smile-creating eye-catching headlines and “you’ve got my full attention” content.  You know how people say you only get 10 seconds to make a first impression?  Well you get even less to entice a reader with your headlines according to my research.  Users often leave web pages in 10–20 seconds if there’s not compelling content to read and that’s some real pressure if you’re a blogger.  I have also read that the average page visit lasts a little less than a minute. “As users rush through Web pages, they have time to read only a quarter of the text on the pages they actually visit (let alone all those they don’t).”  Whew-tough crowd to please!

Aside from pleasing the reader, we want eye pleasing analytics capturing the success (or lack of) with our blogs.  But how do we know that we’ve achieved our goals and keep those analytical reports looking like mountain tops instead of valleys?

~ Content may be king but headlines are indeed the crown.  The bottom of the leading line is that if
your blog title/headline is unnoticeable, it gets passed over in a few short seconds and no one reads further.  DOA before the first paragraph. But, if you’ve got something that’s contemporary, media talked about, news worthy headline, you can hook even the quickest page glancer. Here’s a good example: Dare I say WILLIAM LEVY…I can almost bet that someone who knows who he is has raised an eyebrow, let out a sigh and with anticipation,  is clicking to see what I might say about him or hoping to see a picture of him.  Ladies, your wish is my command…

On the flip side, someone who doesn’t know who he is, might Google him because the curiosity bug has nibbled and you’re wondering why I’m blogging about him.  The point is that I’ve struck a chord and since we are curious creatures by nature, a tantalizing headline is all we need to capture ones attention before getting our content hooks in them.  What’s even better from a business standpoint is that if you continue to put out “headlining” blogs, you develop a faithful following.  Increased traffic = increased business. Increased business = $$$.

~ Is your image worth 1,000 words so your blog doesn’t have to be?  Say you go to the Yahoo homepage and see an image of the Queen of England and she has on an African Head wrap? 2 things would probably occur:
(1) you do a double take, shake your head in disbelief and click on another page
OR what’s more likely is that…
(2) you do a double take, become amused and want to read what supports that picture.  And even though I don’t have an image to represent this theory you can almost SEE my point.  Images play as much a significant role in the content of blogs as do the words written.  They bring color and vitality to the black & white copy that lies on the page and enhances the experience your content brings to the reader.  That’s what blogging is all about-enhancing the quality of the readers experience in order to gain a faithful following.  That’s what measures the success of your blog and puts you in the “air up there” on the analytics peak.

And if you chuckled at the title of this blog or you’re still looking at William Levy,
the goal has been achieved…lol.


Great Expectations

Charles Dickens was an Englishman, social critic and author of some of the world’s most well-known fiction stories and hailed as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.  Great Expectations was set in 1812 and follows the life of Pip, an orphan child who is on an amazing journey of personal growth and character development to become a proper gentleman. Uh, Yvonne…What in the world does this have to do with the business industry?  Don’t give up on me yet… The original ending of the book was later revised based on another editorial critic who said that its predecessor was far too sad.  So with ego slightly bruised, Dickens rewrote it (Yeah, someone asked Charles Dickens to rewrite one of the most renowned literary pieces in history!) so that Pip marries Estella instead of the original ending which had them passing each other on the street with no apparent love or future in sight.  It was then hailed as one of the most brilliant stories and influential literary pieces to be held in ones hands before best-seller lists existed.

Fast forward to 2012. You’ve got this nice small/medium-sized business that’s been running pretty well for several years but with the current “recession” in full swing, you’ve hit a bit of a speed bump (or maybe several nails in 3 tires).  You’re sales are down and Abe Lincoln is the reflection of your ROI.  You drive to your office  wondering if sooner than later your doors will look like one of many that have “Now Leasing” over the door instead of your company sign above it.  So what’s a business owner to do when you feel like you can’t spare a nickel, let alone a check with more than (2) 0’s to boost your business and the bottom line?  Rethink and re-strategize.  Let’s learn from that earlier Dickens example.

Dickens’ Great Expectations

Business in Jeopardy

An established masterpiece of literature that already had a solid reputation & some notable success A well-established but slowly declining   business with a seemingly solid clientele but not producing an adequate profit   margin. Needing to resort to downsizing personnel, departments or “doing away with” vital parts of your business because of funding.
An outside critic thought he could make it better Believe it or not, an outside source sometimes can have the best perspective of what your business needs to survive.  Sometimes when we’re too close to it, we need a lens adjustment to see outside of what we have been doing and expand our perspective outside of “what we already know”.
Considered another outcome. The change embraced and   implemented helped the book become one of the greatest among classical literature and Dickens was hailed as a literary genius. Maybe it’s a website if you don’t have one.  Maybe it’s
rebranding and testing the market with a new look/feel for your online and print marketing materials.  Strategize as if it’s business warfare and the life of your business depends on it.  Most times how we start is not always how we finish and it’s ok to embrace that.  Oftentimes that is the sweetest success and thus the story of getting there!

Marketing Strategies bullseyeRethink and re-strategize to meet the goal(s) at hand! Don’t be afraid to shift the paradigm or how you think about your business and its road to success!

I’m sure Dickens didn’t expect anyone to come along and tweak his masterpiece but surprisingly, he was open to the idea that someone may just have a better way.  The Great Expectations Pip had, were constantly evolving with every ebb and flow of life and unforeseen circumstance.  For the sake of the novels success, Dickens was forced to consider the revision if he wanted to see Great Expectations become all that it deserved to be and that which he desired.

What are you willing to do to achieve the Great Expectations you have for your masterpiece?