Excellent service providers and consultants work really hard to provide the very best to their clients, and this doesn’t just happen by accident.
Particularly in the case of new clients, where no prior relationship exists, it is really important for both parties to have a clear idea about the expected outcome of a project. By clearly spelling out what is required, how it is to be accomplished and when it will be completed are the basics, but the type of project will dictate other requirements and outcomes.
First “The Brief”
As a service provider of written SEO content, several years ago I designed a simple “Brief” (a .doc file) that I asked my clients to complete. This was adequate when I delivered mainly articles. However these days my services encompass lots of different types of written content for SEO – from press releases, PDFs for document sharing sites, and 100 word blog blasts for blog networks. And I have no doubt that in an environment as dynamic as internet marketing, these services will continue to grow as the opportunities are identified.
But that isn’t the only thing that has changed. As more sophisticated keyword tools like Market Samurai come onto the market, so too is the ability for internet marketers to laser-target their buying prospects with the right keywords.
Now “The Questionnaire”
In order to gather the information I need to assess and price a project, I now ask prospective clients to complete a Questionnaire. I use the services of Survey Monkey (not an affiliate link!) for this, rather than having a multi-page “Brief”. Reason? It allows people to skip past any sections that relate to services that are not required, and it prevents them from skipping past any vital information e.g. like their contact details and keywords.
This questionnaire has other benefits.
- Firstly, it puts before clients options ‘beyond the article’ that they may not have considered. I very rarely these days have clients request, say, 10 articles. More likely it will be 10 articles, 20 x 100 word blog blasts and a press release. Not an upsell exactly, but the presentation of options that some may not have known existed.
- Secondly, the questionnaire forces clients to think in more depth about their project. It is surprising how many do not know what keywords they wish to target, nor who their online competitors are.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the questionnaire will clearly show what services are being requested, and the invoice that I generate in response to the survey will itemize these. Once I receive payment, the contract is active. There is no question of lowering prices, failure to pay, or asking to do extra work outside of that contract. (Note, however there is always the flexibility to add to the project!)
Using Skype For Some One on One
If the project appears to be complex, of if a new client would like the comfort of a chat in order to clarify things, Skype is a wonderful tool. It is possible to record your call, but for my projects, I prefer to take notes and send an email to the client that summarizes the discussion. Clarity and transparency ensures we are all on the same page.
So, that’s what I do. How do you find out what your client REALLY wants?