Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Clients Want...

I was originally put off by the idea of seeing Mel Gibson in pantyhose, so had not watch the movie that inspired this title. However, it came up in a marketing conversation. I decided I better see the "relationship" to clients, so I watched it tonight. There is definitely a marketing message in there we had better sit up and notice.

Here is Mel, stuck in the past in his view of the ad world, not understanding the target market that he needs to survive. A lot of arrogance and lack of personality. Then he really gets inside into the "heads" of his target market by "magical" means, figures out what is important to them, and succeeds.

Imagine that Mel is an tech consultant that thinks he knows best about what the client needs and proceeds to "lecture" the client with his superior view. A little out of touch with the changes in the market. Not really paying attention to what is important to the clients. So... What "magic" turns Mel the IT guy around?

In the movie, Mel involuntarily finds out what his market wants. In real life, Mel has to exert effort to find out. If you are Mel the IT guy (most of us are), take these steps:
  1. Have a heart to heart talk with yourself, and realize that the word "NEED" is not equal to the word "WANT". If you are competent, you already know the technical needs of your clients. Your attitude toward clients that don't see the importance of your recommendations is that they just don't get it. And you may be right. Since your solutions don't line up with the client's wants, the clients thinks you are asking them to eat broken glass. You have to be able to make the business case from the client's perspective.
  2. Take your clients to lunch and ask them the 5 things they want to solve. Not just the 5 IT things they want to solve, but business challenges they want to solve. You may have an IT solution to a business challenge. Plus, they may start to think of you as a business partner, not just the IT pusher.
  3. After you have talked to a few clients, check your notes and see if you need to develop new services to meet those needs. If the needed solutions are way outside your core competency, find some competent partners that can fill those needs.
  4. Continue to poll your clients as to their satisfaction level on a regular basis. This could be a review meeting, a website survey invitation, or some other way. This lets the clients know that you care how they perceive your service. Keeps listening. And be sure to keep the "What else do you want solved that is not currently being solved" question in the mix every time you do this.

It all turned out well for Mel the ad man. Will it turn out well for Mel the IT guy? Well Mel, get busy.


marketing said...

"Take your clients to lunch and ask them the 5 things they want to solve. Not just the 5 IT things they want to solve, but business challenges they want to solve"

Ken, this simple step is the most effective marketing investment that most people overlook. People love to be taken to lunch. Another idea is to take several clients to lunch at the same time. Let them meet each other through you.

Ken Edwards said...

Thanks, Marketing, for the kind comments.

I have never done the "group" think with my clients. I will have to ponder that idea.