Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Charlotte marketing pros talk handling clients, breaking bad news

(from left) Jim Bailey, Tamera Green, Jaime Cardenas and Jon Show,
who moderated the panel, at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte.
Photo courtesy of Brooke Faw. 
When Tamera Green has to deliver bad news to a client, she does it while wearing "velvet gloves."

Preparing for the difficult conversations is key, especially if your client's wife has "sketchy" photos on the Internet, Green said early on Tuesday to a crowd of business owners and sport
s professionals at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte.

Such was one experience for Green, president of Viridian Marketing, who joined two other marketing entrepreneurs on a panel to discuss their business journeys, fears and struggles during a Charlotte Sports & Business networking event.

"Don't knock them over the head with a hammer," Green said of clients. "Be prepared...if it's a tough conversation."

Jim Bailey, CEO of Red Moon
Green, along with Jim Bailey, president and CEO of Red Moon Marketing, and Jaime Cardenas, CEO and founder of AC&M Cultural Marketing, shared tips on how they maintain good client relations:

When you're right, you're right: The old adage goes, "the customer is always right."

Bailey agrees: "At the end of the day, the client is always right."

That doesn't mean you're always wrong. Find a way to respectfully get your point across, even if it contradicts your client's opinion, he said.

Disagreements are inevitable but the important thing, Bailey said, is finding a way to get the client back in your good graces.

Tamera Green, president of
Viridian Marketing
"If you're a collector of relationships...good things will come your way," he said.

Rehearse the tough talks: Clients are "the everything" to your business, Green said. Business owners, she said, should wake up each morning thinking about how they can add value to their client's experience.

Yes, there are tough conversations to be had, but they get easier with a little homework beforehand.

One difficult experience Green recalled was dealing with a client whose wife had "sketchy photos" on the Internet. Green spent days brainstorming on how to broach the topic. Finally, she did. The client already had an answer for Green, assuring her that his wife was not involved in any illicit activities.

Hire wisely: Hiring the right people to take care of your clients the same way you do is critical, Cardenas said. Hire carefully and deliberately, making sure to clearly explain your company's standards and your clients' expectations.

Other advice they offered:
Jaime Cardenas, CEO of AC&M
Cultural Marketing
  • Understand the commitment to the business and help your family understand they'll need to be equally committed to your success. As Cardenas said, "everything depends on whether we get this client or implement this project."
  • Establish core values and a company persona and communicate them to employees. Bailey's team has developed four key strategies for 2015. Employees are held accountable for exemplifying those values each day. 
  • Take on the work you're not comfortable with and find people to help you understand it.
  • Pick up the phone and call people. You might hear information or ideas you never would have gotten in electronic communication.