I know what you’re thinking, “what does selecting the perfect outfit for your first day on the job have in common with prepping for a first meeting with a client?”. Stay with me, and allow me to explain. We’ve all been there, right? First day at the new job. I found myself there recently, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve carefully planned your outfit down to the accessories in advance. If you think about it, preparing for a first business meeting with a client has a lot of similarities to a first day at a new job. What do I mean? Just like I painstakingly took time to select the best pants and coordinate with the perfect top, I wasn’t done there. Next comes the accessories; the shoes, earrings, necklace, bracelets. Now, that’s the really fun part. Am I right? Well, prepping for a client meeting shouldn’t be any different.
You’ve got to do your homework, and I don’t just mean take a quick glance of their website. I mean scour their website and read the “About” section. Find out who they are, what they stand for, what is important to them, and what kind of culture they have. Learn ANY information you can find about them. Research WHO you are meeting, and look them up on LinkedIn. Think of your client as your accessory! This is where it gets fun. Find out their background, their accomplishments, and whom you have in common that can give you insight into this person. The better you coordinate your knowledge of your prospect and their company, the better the end result. Think of it like this—all the prep work for the killer outfit = great look, great first impression, so prep work for killer first meeting = impressed client and someone who knows you are willing to put in the work for their business. You aren’t just another person angling to sell them something or get something from them. You separate yourself, and you make yourself stand out.
Bottom line—DIFFERENTIATE yourself! Stand out, not only in your style, but also in your work ethic and your commitment. We are all so busy these days with people and things competing for our time and attention. You have to give your clients a reason to want to GIVE you their time and attention. What do you bring to the table that sets you apart? You could have a great product offering, but if you don’t know how to communicate that to your clients, then you won’t get or hold their attention. What if you drone on about being locally owned and they are getting ready to be acquired by a huge corporation? Whoops! You’ve just stuck your metaphorical great shoe in your mouth. If only you’d invested the time and energy to thoroughly prepare for your meeting. I recently asked our president, “What sets T. Potter apart from our competition?” and his response was, “The truth is, clients can get good creative from most ad agencies. I think what clients are really paying for is a smarter strategy, that is supported by data and killer creative. That’s US! We pride ourselves on our toolbox. What’s the old adage, If all you are is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail? I never want that to be said of us.” So, whether it’s your accessories or your toolbox, it’s all the same thing. Differentiate yourself—no matter what you do, no matter what your industry.
I also asked our CEO to describe us in 3 words and his response was “Team of storytellers.” We are great at telling stories, we believe that is our differentiator and what sets us apart. We listen to our clients and what is important to them and we help them tell that story. We are willing to put in the work for their business, go the extra mile, and WOW that client.
So, take some time before your next prospective client interaction, and have some brutal honesty time with yourself. Did you take more time picking out your outfit for the meeting then you did prepping for the meeting itself? If yes, don’t panic, this habit can be remedied. Make the commitment to yourself to do the prep and hard work before your meeting. Almost nothing good in business comes from “just winging it.” That’s for eyeliner.