Originally, this blog post was going to be about the relationship between an agency and a client. It was going to address how to manage that relationship, provide good advice, and, ultimately, make your client happy to the best of your abilities. But these steps are applicable in a variety of settings, such as when your sales team sets unrealistic goals or when your boss is sold on an idea and requires you act on it, no matter how bad it is.
These are all related because the nature of each relationship is the same. At the most basic level, a client, the sales team, and your boss are the final decision-makers. Your role as a marketer in these situations is to provide insight and as much direction as you can, but ultimately do what makes them happy.
As a culture, we hate thinking someone is superior to us, but it takes strength and humility to overcome those feelings and provide an excellent product that makes your client proud. Follow the steps below to strike the perfect balance of providing constructive feedback without risking your job:
A common phrase here at 212 is “identifying religious discussions.”
A religious discussion is a conversation you cannot win because the other person is steadfast in his beliefs. Even if you do win, the other person is so upset or angry that he refuses to continue working with you or admit you are right because you’ve disparaged his core beliefs. If the idea at hand falls into this category, it is best to sit tight and produce the best possible version of what your client requests.
Use real, proven data in your feedback.
The conversation should never be an argument. It should never be personal. It should be data-focused and strictly business. Sounds logical and simple, but too often egos interfere with progress. With data and real examples in hand, you are less likely to trigger the “You think I’m stupid?!” reaction from your counterpart.
Remember he is a person with real feelings.
It’s easy to think that this person is just out to make you fail. Chances are, there’s a story behind the actions. Be respectful of that. Try having your conversation in private without anyone else around to avoid causing embarrassment in front of other team members or, worse, the boss. Both of your reputations are on the line.
Be prepared with a new solution.
Claiming someone is wrong without suggesting a replacement plan is a quick way to break a relationship. Your new plan should use some of the elements from the original, but offer real, tangible differences with strong projected results. The more detail the better.
We’ve all been in a situation like this. Take the time to understand the person you are working with and provide a well-thought-out plan in private to encourage a change of course. Your client/boss/sales team all want the same thing you do: success. Take a deep breath and find a way to work toward that goal together.