In desperate times, a firm will placate customers who are unreasonable or even nasty, just to hold onto their business. This is Dante’s ninth circle of hell.
Good marketing generates many leads. It also gets a firm recognized by companies that don’t need help at the moment but will in the future, what marketers call “market awareness.”
That’s the value of good marketing. Great marketing produces an abundance of leads – many more than a firm can handle at the time. It also spawns widespread awareness. But great marketing generates two other things that are even more important: the discretion to work only with clients who share your vision and values, and the dignity of knowing you can stick to your principles.
Discretion and dignity can’t be quantified in revenue and profit. But for managers who take pride in their company and their work, discretion and dignity are far more useful for the soul.
I’ll explain. In times of few leads and lots of overhead, firm leaders can feel they’re at the mercy of the clients they’ve retained and the occasional prospect that knocks on the door. Worried about the leadstream, these businesses are much less likely to tell clients the tough things they need to hear. And they embrace all prospects, even those that aren’t right for them – prospects needing a different type of expertise than the firm has. These firms will lose their discretionary power – the ability to choose whom they want to work with.
In desperate times, when marketing isn’t producing leads, a firm will also lose its dignity. It will placate customers who are unreasonable or even nasty, just to hold onto their business. The people in such a firm will resent being forced to please unappreciative customers with inappropriate demands.
This is the workplace equivalent of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell. You’d rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else. I know. I’ve been there.
Great marketing restores both discretion and dignity. It generates many more leads than you can pursue, allowing you to be highly discretionary about your customers. You can choose them as much as they can choose you.
You can also be more effective with the clients you have. You can be more willing to put a project at risk unless the client makes the changes necessary to get results. You have so many other opportunities to work with companies who will listen and do things right that you don’t need to placate the unreasonable client. You can easily replace their revenue.
You don’t have to put up with toxic clients, which lets you keep your dignity. This doesn’t mean becoming arrogant and firing a client at the first bump in the road. It means entering a business relationship where both sides can walk away easily.
Too many companies, even those at the top of their game, are dealing with unreasonable clients who are hard to help. If your marketing isn’t giving you discretion and dignity, it isn’t working.
Originally published 06/26/10