Waiting for the Mother Ship

Have you ever been with a group of people, smart people, business professionals and felt completely out of place as if you were standing in a circle with a bunch of extra terrestrials?  Have you ever felt like you were the smartest person in the room, and wondered how a group of educated experienced business people could possibly be so dumb?  If you answered yes, you are not alone.  I have sometimes wondered how some people actually run a business, how they are able to operate an organization from day to day.  Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think that today will be the day, the day I find out I am from outer space and that I was accidently left here as a child and that the mother ship of my highly intelligent, highly advanced people are going to arrive today to finally take me back home.  A place where people understand the difference between advertising and marketing, between direct mail and email, the difference between targeting and segmenting.  A place where people understand the crucial need for public relations, a place where they understand that you cannot spend $300 on advertising and expect to make any money.  Beam me up, I am packed and ready to go.

Most of us in business spend a major portion of our business life saying the same thing over and over and unfortunately that is just a part of doing business.  Nobody is going to beam you up and take you back to the Alpha Centauri home world; you are stuck here with the rest of us.  And yes you are going to keep having to give new customers the same information day in and day out.  There is something you can do however to make your life just a little bit easier.  At Throttle Media we created what we call an “Expectation document”, this is a document that outlines all of our polices, what the client should and should not expect from a marketing campaign, a list purchase, whatever.  While this is not the answer to all of your problems, it will go a long way in explaining what your clients can expect, what is guaranteed, what is implied and what is not.  By including a line in your agreements that state the client agrees that they have read your expectation and guarantees document, even if they have not, after seeing this, they may be prompted to read it to see what it is they have gotten themselves into.

Let’s face it, there were no guarantees when you went into business that all your clients were going to be members of Mensa.  While you are sure to have some highly intelligent clients, it’s just as reasonable to expect that some of your clients are not going to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.  So to make your life easier, put it in black and white, it won’t solve all your problems, but it will make some of your life a little easier.

Stupid people need services too.

If you are a business executive or owner or in the sales and marketing end of a business than you most likely at some point dealt with a client that wasn’t the brightest M&M in the bag.  I mean let’s face it not every client or prospective client that we talk to is going to be rocking the Richter scale of intelligence.  I cannot tell you how many times I have given a client information about what they should not do when conducting a marketing campaign, and what do you think they do?  If you are thinking they did exactly what I advised them not to do, then bingo you just won dinner for two at the stupid people diner.

If most of you are like me, there are times that you wish you could just crawl through the phone line and beat the person on the other end in the head until they comprehend, but the odds are this would make them just that much simpler and you would be even more frustrated.  I have often considered putting a wet bar next to my desk so that when the stupid line rings I can pour a drink to help ease the intense frustration I know is going to take place.

Seriously though, we all go through this and as much as we would like to just point blank ask the person we are dealing with if they are really this stupid, we can’t.  One, stupid people have feelings too, so we don’t want them to feel bad, secondly it’s just downright bad for business because the stupid people have money to spend too, not to mention you don’t want to get a bad reputation.  So how does one deal with these people?  Well to start with besides not being able to smack them,  (I think that might be illegal in one or two states, not sure I have to check with legal) it’s not really a good idea to verbally abuse them either, and you don’t even want to infer that they are stupid or that you think their ideas are stupid.   The best way to deal with these clients is to take a deep breath, and calmly explain why what they are doing or what they want just doesn’t work, and as you know people don’t like to be told that their ideas stink, or that they don’t know what they are talking about, so follow this with an alternative of what will work, and why and try to get them to follow your common sense advice.

At the end of the day you cannot force the client to do anything; all you can do is give them the benefit of your expertise.  At Throttle Media we require clients to sign an expectation agreement so that they understand exactly how things work, and if they choose to ignore the advice that they are paying us for, we warned them in advance and have their signature on file stating so.  Whatever you do just remember that whatever the outcome, keep your temper in check, bite your tongue because you could end up losing the client, not to mention the bad reputation this could cause your business.