I was sitting at my desk working on my second cup of coffee while listening to a customer drone on and on about what they wanted from an upcoming marketing campaign. I listened as they went through their long list of expectations and what they thought they were going to accomplish. Once they got it all out, I took a sip of my coffee, took a deep breath and crushed the majority of their expectations. They did not have much of a clue as to how the marketing campaign they were considering doing worked.
This is not unusual in marketing, in fact is it very common. Most clients and prospects come to the table with an expectation of what they want, yet most of them don’t really understand the mechanics of the marketing program they are getting involved in. They are not an expert in this area, you are, and that is why they came to you in the first place right? That being said, the old adage “give the client want they need, not what they want” applies. As a business if we were to give every client what they wanted, we would not have very many satisfied customers. Now that might sound strange, but in my experience most clients that are looking to do any type of marketing usually have a predetermined expectation of what their marketing campaign is going to do for them. As a marketing expert it is my job to create a successful campaign for my clients, and to create a campaign that is going to serve the needs of their business, not their imagination. I am the expert; they are not, so the task of educating them and giving them what they need is laid on me.
Many marketing professionals just go with the flow and give their clients lip service to make them happy, and make promises that they cannot keep, and in not correcting the thought process of a clients expectations these professionals are in effect lying to them, even if they didn’t directly make any promises, the fact that they allowed the client to entertain certain expectations they have indirectly lied to them. I am a firm believer that it is our job as the professionals to manage those expectations, to educate our clients and prospects so that they understand exactly what to expect, and what not to expect, so that they are going into this with their eyes open. Does this ever cause us to lose business? Sure it does, but I would rather lose a deal and have the client walk away feeling like we just saved them from wasting a lot of money than taking their money and creating an unhappy customer whose expectations were not met. The former will come back to you in spades and creates good will and shows that you are a knowledgeable professional who is not just trying to “close the deal”.