I was at a meeting just now with a potential client, thinking that we were going to be talking about search engine optimization, social media marketing, converting traffic to leads, etc.
After all, we are a search engine marketing company.
But I was blind-sided when I found out that SEO was pretty much the furthest thing from the client’s mind. We started off the meeting talking about search marketing for what couldn’t have been longer than 37 seconds, before they started divulging what was really on their mind.
It turns out that this client needed pretty much everything. From a new brand identity, to a redesigned site, to a content management system, help developing content, a back-end client extranet, their own intranet…Pretty much the works.
Not the worst thing in the world, I suppose, but a bit out of our comfort zone.
I wouldn’t call us experts on branding and design – definitely not experts in intranet design and functionality, but we’ve been immersed in the world of digital marketing for several years now, so it’s not like we don’t know anything about it. Plus, what the client was most interested in were the contacts that we’ve developed over the years (we know experts in each of these areas, respectively).
Everything turned out okay.
I pretty much threw my canned spiel out the door and just started consulting with the client and sharing what I knew about the things they were interested in. There were some pretty good insights I was able to share and the client seemed impressed.
The meeting ended by them thanking me for coming, taking the time to listen to their needs, and not delivering a canned proposal and asking for the order. THEN (and I was somewhat surprised by this) they asked me to collect all the resources and contacts that I thought would be ideal for the project, and to deliver a proposal to them!
So the moral of the story – what I ultimately took from the experience – is that even though we’re a pure SEO company, we can still help companies that are looking for more than just SEO. By virtue of the industry and world within which we operate, we gather experience in all types of internet marketing areas.
Now we have a fairly large proposal to deliver, and the potential to earn a sizeable chunk of cash and a very valuable client that could refer lots of business to us. But this would never have been possible had I been rigidly attached to my pitch – or even my idea of what products and services we deliver.
What I learned (well actually I already knew this, but it was reinforced today) was that actually listening to clients can be a very productive effort for both parties. The client has a consultant that understands their needs AND the digital universe. And we now have a client that we can potentially keep for many many years to come.
Remain flexible. Even when your client asks for more than what you’re used to delivering.