Clientspeak – Can You Speak Their Language?July 8th, 2011
Recently I posted about a client who was confused by the industry jargon that we had inadvertently allowed to creep into the assessment document that we delivered to him. I have been on the lookout since then for places where we can do a better job of explaining what we do, or what information we need from the client in order to work effectively on their campaign.
One of the more important conversations that we engage in with new clients involves keyword phrases. We understand the importance of drilling down to the most relevant, yet reasonable search terms. Some terms are relevant, but just so competitive that there is no point in targeting them in the first part of the campaign. Some are relevant but no one is looking for them, so we may be easily able to have the site rank for the term, but since no one is searching for it, the return is questionable!
There are a host of options between those extremes. These are typically some longer tail phrases with good search and competition numbers. Now we just need to know how relevant they are to the business. The client knows the business better than we can hope to at this point, so we need their input.
I spoke with a client who was taking time from his vacation to get the keyword phase of the project to the next level. I explained that we use a three point rating scale with one being very relevant, two being somewhat relevant, and three being not relevant at all. Easy? Most of the time. This client wanted a deeper scale so he could tell me which phrases are very relevant today, which may be relevant in a few months, and which will always be secondarily relevant. By talking through it, we were able to come to an agreement on a new scale that suited his needs and got us the important information we needed to take the next step for his website.
Another client made all of the phrases ones, thinking he was complimenting us on our research! Again, by talking through the process we were able to help him categorize the phrases that then allowed us to target those most relevant to the business.
One more example involves a proposal that went out to a potential client. When answering this persons questions, he made it clear that he was trying to compare us to another provider, and wanted more detailed information in certain areas so that he could easily make the comparison. Once we understood what he was looking for, we were able to give him the appropriate level of detail to make the comparison.
In each of these examples, we obviously believed that we had done a thorough job of outlining and explaining what we needed, and outlining what we were going to do for the client. In each instance, when we listened to the questions, we were able to make things more clear.
It is important to take these steps with each client or contact for sure. But keeping the bigger picture in mind, we can also plan ahead to make our communications clearer from the beginning, allowing others to understand more quickly and ask deeper questions from the start.
How do you encourage your clients to ask questions about your processes, and what do you learn from the questions?
Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/976655