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April 2017

The Importance of Setting Client Expectations Up Front!

The Importance of Setting Client Expectations Up Front! 900 600 Kari Switala

A year ago, my husband and I were walking through land we own in Northern Minnesota when we came to my favorite spot. As we stood there admiring the tall white pines and the blue skies, I said, “I have an idea!” To which my husband groaned, did a little eyeball roll, and said, “This should be good.” (insert sarcastic look here).

I then proceeded to tell him about my vision to build a treehouse in the tall white pines. This would be a place where we could come and relax, read a book, write a blog, etc. I was envisioning a treehouse similar to one of the projects on the show Treehouse Builders. If you’re not familiar with that show, picture the treehouse from the movie The Swiss Family Robinson. You get the picture right? Big. Elaborate. Expensive.

After I laid out my vision, my husband said something I’ve heard only a few times in our 15 years of marriage. He said, “I think that’s a great idea!” After the initial shock wore off and I checked to see if he was feeling all right, we began walking back to our cabin while creating a mental checklist of all of the items we would need.

The next weekend, my husband began building the treehouse. After several weeks of hard labor, he asked me to come and check out his progress. I was ecstatic and instantly saw myself drinking a glass of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay while reading my new Lorna Landvik book and enjoying the gentle breeze of the white pine trees.

We finally get to my favorite spot and my husband says, “Ta-Da…what do you think? It’s awesome isn’t it?” I was rendered speechless. You see, my husband and I apparently had very different visions and expectations about our treehouse. While I imagined an amazing gazebo in the sky, my husband saw an elaborate deer stand.

As a deer stand our treehouse is incredible (just ask any hunter!).

As a treehouse . . . not so much.

What happened, and how can you apply this to your interactions with your clients?

Here was our issue: neither of us clearly communicated our expectations for the treehouse. We both had very different visions and expectations. My husband is thrilled with the “treehouse”, but I was left dissatisfied.

This same scenario can happen when you onboard  new clients, too. Do you clearly communicate what your client can expect from you (and vice versa)? Do you share the timeframe in which they can expect to see results from your products or services? Do you share this information EVERY TIME you bring on a new customer? Is there a SPECIFIC time in your customer’s journey when it is best to communicate this information?

Let’s unpack these questions a bit.

  1. Do you clearly communicate  what  your client can expect in terms of results and a timeframe for completing them? First, write down  the steps you follow when bringing on a new client. Are there any holes or gaps you see? Second, determine the expectations you need to communicate with your new client and write them down. Finally, write down the expectations you have for your client; after all, it’s a two-way street!  You often can’t do your work without information or feedback from the client.
  2. Review the steps you wrote down and ask yourself if you follow these steps every time. If not, highlight the ones you’re missing and ask yourself why you’re missing them. Is it because you don’t have enough time? Maybe you are just overwhelmed with taking on more clients than you can handle at one-time?
  3. Take a look at your notes and think about how you could streamline how you communicate expectations. Is it a process you could automate to ensure new clients are well taken care of without you tracking all these steps in your head EVERY TIME

If you cannot answer a resounding YES to thisquestion, then I would definitely recommend exploring how marketing automation can help you retain your customers and turn them into raving fans by clearly communicating expectations up front!

We practice what we preach…  Here’s how Wild Fig Marketing communicates client expectations and key information with marketing automation.

  1. Once a prospect converts to a client, we send them a welcome email with a payment link to start the onboarding process.
  2. After they’ve clicked the payment link and successfully paid, a thank you page appears with a request to schedule our first strategy session and a link to our calendar.
  3. Once a client has scheduled the strategy session, we send a sequence of automated emails to the client at KEY times during the beginning of our relationship. The first email in this sequence addresses expectations for both the client and for us. It also asks them how they’d like to be communicated with and what’s most important to them in a vendor relationship. The following emails help prepare them for our first strategy session and educate them on the marketing services we’ll provide.

This onboarding process took us about 6 hours to build. But it has saved us hundreds of hours so we can focus on what we do best: marketing!

To schedule a 15-minute exploratory conversation to discover if marketing automation can help you increase client retention and save you hundreds of hours, click the following link and find a time that works best for you:

Importing Contact Data – Garbage in, Garbage…in?

Importing Contact Data – Garbage in, Garbage…in? 900 600 Kevin Switala

So you got a shiny new digital marketing platform… And it includes a fancy CRM so you finally get to have all your contacts in one place… Now what? How will you use and grow your Contact Record Management? Is your CRM a part of your digital marketing platform like Ontraport? Where is your contact info today? These are important questions when gathering and importing your contact data into a new system. Let me give you some tips, tricks, and things to think about as you head down the import path!

Exports, Spreadsheets, and Bar Napkins… Oh my!

First, you need to locate your data. Are you using an existing tool for email marketing? Do you have a client spreadsheet with contact info? If you have a system, can you export contacts? Maybe you simply have business cards and names on post-its everywhere. Try to round up all your data and get it narrowed down to one or two spreadsheets where you can clean it up for import. If it really is all over the place, maybe its time to pay that dead-beat cousin of yours a few bucks to throw it into a system!

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses” … Henry Ford

Think bigger about your platform, which data will you use?

You need to think about which data will actually be used in your digital marketing platform. Many times, our clients export EVERYTHING from a system, never to be used again. Others simply export name and email address. Your contacts may be coming from a point of sale system where individual sales are tracked. Do you plan on using this data for your digital marketing? Is there a way to slim this down to maybe recent sales or category? Maybe your an auto shop and your system has multiple vehicles per customer. Is this important, or would it be better to know if a recent service was declined? How you will use your data will help determine how to populate your CRM.

Exporting, and Configuring your contact data.

Once you figure out where your data is, then figure out how to get it out of there for editing. Many times, we export all that could be used and cleanup after list consolidation. Build a file… I recommend you decide on a set of useful fields, and consolidate the lists in one work file. You can use tags to categorize beyond that for things like source, type, or region.

Tips and Tricks to “fix” your data:

You will have the original data (in system), an export file, and a work file. The work file is where we consolidate all of our lists and fit the data into the right fields. This work file will also establish how many custom fields you will need to land your data inside the CRM. Sometimes you need to “fix” your data in the work file as well. You might have full name but need first and last in separate fields. If you use Excel, there is a pretty easy way to separate full name into first and last in unique fields. Simply select the column with full name and select “text to columns” under the data tab (may be elsewhere with other versions). There are many other ways to use formulas in Excel if you need to. Generally, getting everything into the work file will help you visualize what will be imported. You will be able to see things like multiple email or phone fields. You can remove fields (columns) that are not useful – like unusable codes and other data that you will not use with your marketing or contacts. Once you are happy with your data, export or save as a .csv file and import this into your CRM.

Don’t Forget to Tag Your Import!

Final tip – make sure to tag your import so you can easily remove it if something goes wrong. We use date and and version number if necessary. Something like ‘170414_1’ would work well. These tags can always be removed later, when you know everything went in as planned. Finally, test your import. Make sure the things you wanted to import truly made it in where you expected. Now you’re off! – happy marketing!!