One of the strangest requests I have ever received happened the other day (no it didn’t involve me dressing up like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz). I had a client ask me to write up a social media plan without ever meeting anyone from the client’s staff or really talking with them about what they want or need. The goal was to write up a plan and then present it to them in a meeting. Now I know this task wasn’t logical and probably a really poor decision but being eager to please I figured I would give it a shot.
So what did I learn about this experience besides the fact when you go into a meeting thinking you are about to tell people what they need without knowing what they need is the worst feeling in the world?
Not talking to the client and evaluating their use of social media and internet marketing leads you to make a lot of assumptions.
Assumptions are usually horrible to make. What is the old phrase, when you assume you make an ass out of you and me? While I think that is true in general, these assumptions actually created a lot of conversation in this meeting. I had to evaluate what they were doing on the web from a complete outsider’s perspective without knowing anything about the company except for what I read. When I asked them about certain things that I felt they weren’t doing right or weren’t doing at all I found out opportunities on where they need education or I found areas where the client attempted strategies that didn’t work. If the client and I just met with them telling me what they wanted or needed I don’t know that these topics would have been broached or at best they would have been glossed over.
At the end of the day I had to shred the plan I had written and redesign it. But I am glad that I had to make massive assumptions because it helped generate a more fruitful conversation and a much more comprehensive strategy. Now before I meet with a client I try to write an internal evaluation and attempt to guess what they were trying to do that I use as a talking points in our first conversation.