Something I love about my work is the variety of projects I manage for each client. This has been a week where I’ve been freshly reminded of the power of first asking the question, “What do you think your needs are?”- and then listening closely to the response.
Often I work with people who aren’t completely sure what the solution to their problem is but they are quite aware something isn’t right. Some part of their marketing or conversion rate isn’t satisfying them. Or, the impression they are leaving on customers, contacts, or leads is disturbing and they just aren’t sure how best to fix it. They might be nervous they’ll get oversold on expensive overkill that masquerade as “solutions”.
So I always start by asking that question. Let them vent if necessary. Once the steam has dissipated, what’s left is valuable insight into their preferences for pacing, expense, resources, introversion/extroversion, internet philosophy…so much can be gained by listening.
The answers gained from that aren’t enough to stand on. They sought out a consultant’s help for a reason. This is where process analysis and analytics come in. I don’t want to advice decisions be made on emotions and perception alone: we need evidence.
- What’s being done right now?
- How is it being done? What are the steps?
- How is that performing?
- What facts verify something is broken?
Okay, now we’re getting close to a customized solution. By the way…this applies to a heck of a lot more than just marketing and branding. This process analysis and evidence based decision making is as relevant to a recipe for mouth-watering Bolognese sauce as it is technical ISO documents. Anything that must be repeated and carry a level of quality assurance is going to require process mapping, consistent supply, standards for analysis and a protocol to address any glitch.
This skill set is worth developing because it encourages versatility. I was recently meeting with a potential client where this was reiterated. This person was much more interested in transferable strengths that could apply in many settings than they were a boxed-in service offering. Go back to the kitchen with me a sec: if one knows how to use a set of kitchen tools and appliances, knows what basic spices and pantry items go together, and the basics of ingredient chemistry, that person can pretty much follow any recipe and cook anything that’s wanted. They won’t necessarily be an expert on par with a specific niche- like say, a French pastry chef or Japanese Sushi master. But there’s a skill set in the kitchen that does allow for a very versatile range of food to be created with a high rate of acceptable success. With exceptions for highly-specialized restaurants, someone who needs to hire a cook is most often going to want someone who is versatile and adaptable, confident, open, and skilled with the process.
Once its determined what the desires are, and it’s been paired with what the evidence shows, a new project scope can be designed and pitched with rational, explainable intention behind each step. That project scope for one business is not going to be identical to another’s. Even if they follow a similar trend, it must still allow for individual goals, personalities, approaches, and objectives.
For my clients, it means they got my best at a customized solution for their unique needs. On my end, it means the job is never boring, never quite the same, never just a dressed up version of the same thing the last guy got.