Some clients have a set workflow and longstanding history of success before you are brought in to assist. Others are starting with a clean slate and building their business. They may be incredible service providers but weak on the nuts and bolts administrative side. They may be visionaries, but lack promotional skills in writing, communication, publicity, social media, and marketing schematics.
You may be with a client for the sole purpose of helping them to build their business and brand while offering the administrative support to keep their ship sailing. In a scenario such as this, the client may rely on you to tell them what to do. Essentially, you may become the brainstormer, the sounding board, and the strategist who helps bring awareness to what they have to offer. You are there to fill a gap.
These can be the best opportunities and it’s important that you are forthcoming with a client. If you really are a task-driven person rather than a big ideas person, it’s really a good idea to cover that in the interview. Nothing is worse than a client who doesn’t have a clue of how to execute their vision paired with a VA who needs clear direction. But if you are a person with savvy and cogent skills that fill their gaps of need, you will become an indispensable part of the client’s team and gain his or her loyalty.
You must be clear, and regularly state, that your presentation of ideas and attempts to build success are not a guarantee. There is no way that you can promise that a magazine will write an article or that sales will increase by x. What you can do is demonstrate effort and commitment.
Sometimes your experience will tell you that a client’s idea or approach is off the mark. Use your creative expression to gently guide the client away from their misguided ideas. Sometimes a client needs to be sold on a new idea they have not thought of on their own. Offer suggestions couched with phrases like, “What I’ve seen work in the past is…” or “I have an idea about a solution that you might like.”
Never make the client feel as if they are not in control of their own business, even if they are putting you at the helm of generating attention.
To be in a position to make suggestions, you need to develop a track record with the client. Whether it’s demonstrating how you work over time or bringing in the clout of your previous experience, a client must feel trust in order to hear what you have to say about new ideas. Sometimes, clients don’t work well in the abstract. You may present them with an idea in writing or on a conference call that they just can’t grasp. Instead, create a document or a visual representation of what you have in mind. “I was brainstorming and this came to me. Please have a look and tell me what you think. Feedback appreciated.” Clients will respect your initiative and the humility; particularly if the idea is something that they can really use. You do have to judge carefully how much input the client wants but if they have asked you specifically to help them build their brand, this approach may work well.
You need to gauge if your client is open to you really providing honest feedback. Even when you do, remember to keep inspiring the client. They need you to ride the delicate balance between helping them understand what may not work and why without making them feel despondent about building their business. Entrepreneurs can be very sensitive and you may be the precipice between them building their dream and leaving the idea altogether. For this reason, never say no but rather, “How about we try…”
Submitted by Darcie