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Written by The Mezzanine Group
on August 03, 2012

Like most of us, I grew up believing that the customer/client is always right. I even worked to propagate this adage when I worked as a customer service supervisor. Today, I find myself questioning what this really means. Often, as a Marketing Director within Mezzanine’s Outsourced Marketing division, I find myself in situations where I know the client is wrong. What then? On Phrase Finder the meaning is discussed, “…these entrepreneurs didn't intend to be taken literally. What they were attempting to do was to make the customer feel special by inculcating into their staff the disposition to behave as if the customer was right, even when they weren't.”

Have we taken its meaning too far? Clients come in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of marketing knowledge. If you find yourself feeling the same way, you need to tread lightly. I believe our job as Marketing Directors is to tactfully explain the “right” way, hopefully compelling clients to buy into our ideas. If that doesn’t work, (because sometimes it won’t) then simply move on.

Here are five tips you can use to help sway your client into the “right” decision:

  1. Remain calm – the worst thing you can do is get worked up. Remain calm and remember it’s not personal. Not everyone understands the science behind B2B marketing, which means many people feel they know how to market when they don’t.
  2. Educate – Demonstrate your expertise, and illustrate through articles, examples, results, and best practices what you are trying to accomplish. An objective opinion to support your cause can go a long way in convincing your client.
  3. Persuade – Our job as Marketing Director is often to sell a strategy or tactic. In my experience, the gentle approach often works best.
  4. Create Pilot Programs – A pilot program is a good way to test out your theory and to get your clients to buy in. Pilot programs work well, because they don’t require the same time and money investment of a full program implementation.
  5. Know When to Accept Defeat – Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can't sway your client into doing the right thing. I recommend you move on and focus your efforts on areas that you and your client can agree on.

I’ve won some, and I’ve lost some, but each time I go through this process, I definitely learn a lot. Do you ever face this challenge with your clients? How do you handle it?

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Market Smart, B2B Marketing for Non-Marketers

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