Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Talk Smack to Your Clients

If you want to make French toast, you need to break eggs, right?  And, no, don't bring that Egg Beaters crap around me.

Begone, impostor!

Similarly, if you want to improve your client's marketing communication, you need to find out a way to suggest, ever-so-delicately, that their current program has, how shall I say it?  Well, that it, well, let me allow someone else to say it for me:

Thanks, Stewie

How do you criticize a client's program without calling his or her baby ugly?

For starters, I have a go-to word, "inconsistent."  As in "your previous program works inconsistently."  While starting this piece yesterday, I asked my friends on Facebook for some terms they use, and they seem to work for all the reasons that "inconsistent" works.  One friend offered "other audiences to reach."  Another shared "still so many important opportunities to be seized."

In other words, acknowledge the work that went into the extant program, even if you had good reason to suspect that lower primates actually did that work.

I believe this approach works even in those rare cases when the client recognizes the, erm, inefficiencies, of the work.  Even if your particular client has recently taken on her role and has inherited the program from a previous manager, it pays to stress the work done previously, if for no other reason that the previous work actually has something of value.

Marketing requires learning from experience.  By writing off previous efforts as a complete waste of time, marketers risk losing valuable information, even if that information amounts to "well, that didn't work."

And if that doesn't work, at least have the courtesy to get the client drunk first before saying nasty things.

Any other tips?  Leave 'em in the comments.

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