Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘client

You CAN get there from here.

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signpostFrom when I was young, I remember a TV commercial where someone stopped for directions to Bar Harbor, Maine. The reply came in a very thick Maine accent: “You can’t git therah from hereh.”

The phrase has popped up in my life from time to time. But it’s when it pops up in my professional life that I get most disturbed.

The idea of “it can’t be done” or “you can’t get there from here” is very foreign to me. I recently fielded a call from a new client. He knows that I touch all types of marketing, but already had established a relationship with a graphic artist before we started working together. To his credit, he wants to remain loyal to his vendors. That’s why that graphic artist got the call when his company decided last minute to place a full-color ad in a nationally distributed magazine. The client was very clear in what he wanted and the graphic artist tried his best, but ultimately submitted sub-par work stating that there wasn’t enough time to carry out the request and that “it can’t be done.”

The client and I are of like mind. To use his words, “If you throw enough effort or resource into something, it can get done.” That’s right, Mr. Client. You can get there from here, no matter where ‘there’ and ‘here’ are.

He called me on a Thursday night. I had approval of the ad by Monday night and it went to print.

I’m not trying to brag (although, maybe I am just a little). I’m trying to illustrate that there is ALWAYS a solution to be found somewhere. If you have a clear definition of the destination and you’re creative enough, connected enough, and/or savvy enough to build the path, you can make it happen.

Easier said than done? Sure. That’s why when you do it, the client loves you. That’s why when new competition knocks on your client’s door, your client calls you to laugh about it.

Are you prepared for the next fire drill? What are you doing today that will allow you to deliver superior service tomorrow? Are you networking and meeting new vendors? Are you researching new concepts and technologies?

Do you have a success story that you’d like to share that we can all learn from?

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When is good enough not good enough?

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It’s a phase that many of us hear all the time. It’s a phase that sends shivers up my spine.

“Ah, that’s good enough.”

Almost sounds like quitting on a project. Almost sounds like someone could do better if they wanted to, but it’s just not worth the effort. Almost sounds like someone regards the task as beneath their best efforts.

So I have to ask, if that’s the case, why bother?

However, I have a tendency to go the other way. I want everything that I work on to be perfect. I need to learn that there is a time when you have to balance doing the best job possible with delivering on-time. I once heard a saying, “Audio engineers never finish an album. They just give up on it.”

But just the same, at what point is it acceptable to stop working on a project? When it is acceptable to walk away when there’s something that can be done to make it better?

More importantly, at what point is it acceptable to accept mediocrity in employees? When is it acceptable to keep someone around that just does enough to get by? When is it time to make room for someone with the interest and desire to learn more and do better.

You have to weigh both sides of the equation. When is the project do? What really needs to be delivered? Will there be the opportunity at a later date to revisit, rebuild, and/or improve?

I like to live by the motto “Try your best. Do your best. Be the best.” Because, in my opinion, at the end of the day, if you can look back and respond “yes” to the questions “does it fulfill the need/expectation of the client” and “are you proud of it,” then it’s good enough.

If not, it’s just not good enough.

Written by Jeff York

April 10, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Let me be honest with you!

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All too often, people find themselves in a situation where their bosses or clients ask an opinion. However, from past experience that person doesn’t feel that they are in an environment where their honest opinion is welcome. Rather than being honest, it’s just easier to tell that person what they want to hear. A potentially contentious conversation is avoided in the short term, but nothing of value is gained. Or worse, the truth is kept hidden when having an open and frank conversation would have yielded results.

Whenever I’m put into a management role, I spend a great deal of effort and energy toward breaking down the natural barrier that exists between employee and employer. I reach out to my staff to make sure that they understand that I want the truth and honesty every time, no matter what the circumstances. If I’m working on a project and I ask an opinion about my output, I want to know if it’s pure crap. If someone disagrees with a decision I’ve made, I want to talk about it. If it’s something that’s goinng to hurt my feelings, I don’t care. As long as we’re sitting down and having a 2 directional exchange of honesty with an environment of respect, then I need to hear it. Bring it on.

If you’re a manager, ask yourself “Do I do everything I can to get honest input.” By simply being a manager and asking a question, you will get input. However, unless you have done substantial work beforehand to create an environment that’s condusive to honesty, you’re not going to get it. And if you don’t get it, you not getting what you need.

Written by Jeff York

January 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm

What do you want?

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megaphoneThere is an unfortunate saying in our business: “Just because we work in communications doesn’t mean there is communications.”

Imagine that. In the very field that we work in, we are less than expert in executing the practice ourselves. Given that, how can we expect our clients to provide us with clarity in their communications. We often get frustrated by the perceived lack of clarity in message from the client.

We are the experts here. It is up to us to spend time with the client to derive from them what exactly is the message and position they want to convey to their (potential) client base. That is something our company pledges to do for our customers first and foremost for every client on every project.

However, that doesn’t preclude you, the small business owner, from having to do some homework yourself. Good marketing firms will do anything they can to help you to fine tune your message. But you need to know what it is you hope to accomplish first. Are you looking to establish points of differentiation from your competition? Are you looking to build market share? Are you launching either your company or a new product/service offering? Most marketing firms will work diligently with you to help you to figure out what your goals can be as well as what the right message and medium would be. However, if you’re reading this blog, then I’m thinking that you are possible not in a financial position to simply turn over your entire marketing efforts over to another firm. Therefore, much of this homework falls on your, the owner, to figure out.

It is difficult to have a good objective view of your company when you are internal. This is why large companies often rely on focus groups to help them gain perspective. Given that you don’t have the budget to perform any kind of formal focus group, reach out to people that know your company the best: your customers. Ask them what they think of when they think of your company. What images come to mind. The important thing here is to allow them to respond in a way that supports openness and honesty. Give them an avenue to remain anonymous.

There is a danger here. By asking only your current (and/or past) customer base, you are restricting yourself to views from people that already know your company. Seek opportunities to ask beyond that universe. The effort to gain this additional information is greater, but so are the rewards.

Give me my stuff!

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As a producer and former project manager, I may find myself in the situation where a project is delayed not because of production issues or concerns over content, but simply because a client hasn’t delivered something vital which is needed to move the project closer to completion.  It may be a item needed for inclusion into a project or it might be a piece of information required to push the project forward.  But for whatever reason, it gets held up by the client.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?  What did you do to work toward resolution so that the project reaches a satisfactory end?  What might be done earlier in the process so that this situation might be avoided? 

Written by Jeff York

April 1, 2008 at 3:34 am

Your biggest client – YOU

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I was meeting with a prospective new client recently and she made a simple comment that I needed a web site. With that simple observation, she hit the bull’s eye on exactly the biggest problem many of us face in generating new business; we fail to market ourselves well.

Oh sure, there are lots of reasons we can come up with to not do it.  For me, it’s hard to find the time between writing scripts, directing shoots and edit sessions, building relationships, and keeping up with the latest trends and technologies.

But then again, if you don’t take yourself seriously, who will?

I’ve challenged myself this week to finish my web site, at least a first draft of it, and post it up for all to see.  And like for all of my clients, I will deliver on time!

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I’d love to hear from everyone how you overcame the challenges of the day-to-day of your business and how you found a way to rise above it and to promote your biggest client: YOU!

Written by Jeff York

March 16, 2008 at 1:52 pm