Earlier this year I decided I was going to make myself into a morning person. See I’m really not a morning person, I’m not even a mid-morning person. I only really wake up around 6pm, which explains why I’m up so late, get so little sleep, have a hard time getting out of bed and subsequently ensure I remain “not a morning person.
It was going to coincide with joining a gym, getting in shape, a bunch of things, as if simply being glad to get out of bed each day wasn’t going to be hard enough. Simply put, the bar was set too high; impossible to achieve based on my world view at the time, and too much to deliver real motivation to change. All it really did was show how little ground I was gaining.
One of my best friends Ian works for a Big 4 accounting firm. He is an endless source of good advice on finance (one would hope so), and has been a really great friend in terms of teaching me about money and setting reasonable financial goals.
Because Ian knew my natural tendencies, he knew I wouldn’t spend less time with friends, in bars, seeing bands, generally living life the way I enjoy it. So while I don’t put as much into my savings each week, what I do put in stays in because it is a measured and achievable goal; when I check the balance of that account I get a sense of having accomplished something rather than being disappointed with myself.
As marketers, we tend to do the same. A client wants the biggest and best of everything; they’re a traditional brick and mortar business, but they want the most innovative social media strategy we can possibly concoct, in fact why don’t we just go create a new start-up with a silly play on words, invent some tech nobody needs with a catchy name so the client can pull off a world first in this space and get kudos if not customers, right? Right. And so very wrong.
We need to be partners, not providers. If a client says they want to talk to their audience but isn’t sure how, don’t tell them they need a Facebook application and a UGC-driven promotion and a new micro-site when you know they don’t (by the by, if you’re not sure what they need, see Forrester’s POST Methodology). If they really want to talk, make them understand what that means. Explain the true nature of corporate transparency, explain what being in that conversation is all about, give them the upshot as well as the potential to take a very public beating. Partner with them, show thought leadership and a willingness to walk the road alongside their efforts.
Most of all set achievable goals, they can start a WordPress blog for free. They can set up a company profile on Get Satisfaction. They can do a wealth of zero dollar marketing exercises that tests the water for them and for the people they answer to. Get that right first; a senior executive’s ego will drive the headline grabbing stuff anyway. Show them genuine value. Or they will eventually show you the door.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get up for a run in 7 hours.