Written by Courtney Goodman, marketing intern
Let’s face it; client meetings are hard. From random ideas being presented to getting off topic, they can sometimes get a little dicey.
However, meetings with clients don’t have to be ineffective and unsuccessful. With the right recipe, any meeting can be a victory that brings new, refreshing ideas to the mix and can be mutually beneficial for both you and your new client.
Beginning with some preparation and planning, having a clear goal, and ending with the refinement of ideas, a client meeting can be a complete success and even foster a great relationship with your customer.
Being a part of an agency and moderating a client meeting is no easy feat. It not only involves preparation, but it also demands for you to know your stuff.
As the moderator, it is your responsibility to be aware of your client’s wants and needs and to understand their perspective. This all starts with researching and getting to know your client. You can’t satisfy them until you know them, so do a little digging and be prepared with knowledge about your client.
Next, you need to set a clear objective for the meeting. Your client needs a new website design? Then let your goal be to brainstorm a few ideas with them. Your client wants to start a blog? Then make coming up with topics be your goal. It is important to have a realistic objective that can be achieved, because the more progress a client sees, the more they trust you and the stronger your relationship will become.
Once you have a clear understanding of your client and the goal at hand, a stimulating and comfortable environment must be chosen. Having a meeting in a cold, dark dungeon is just as inefficient as having one on a playground filled with commotions. A happy medium must be chosen in order to optimize creativity while limiting distractions.
Environment isn’t everything though. Sure, you want to choose a place with limited distractions, but if you get off topic, then what’s the point? Therefore, it is crucial to create a clear agenda for the meeting. Send the agenda to your client a few days in advance to ensure that your client (and you) stay on task.
Once the place is set and the dinner guest (uh, I mean your client) has arrived, it’s time to start the real fun.
As a start to the meeting, go over your goals with your client. Make sure the both of you are on the same page and have the same objective for the meeting.
Most importantly, make the meeting a judgment free zone. Nothing crushes creativity more than judgment, so ensure that all ideas are safe and sound from the big, scary judgment monster.
Finally, it is time to get the creative juices flowing! During the meeting, it is your job as the moderator to, well… moderate. Keep the flow of ideas going, without completely monopolizing the conversation. Ensure your client that any and all ideas are welcome; you may be the marketing expert, but they are the experts when it comes to the wants and needs of their company.
Even though it may be daunting, it is vital to take note of every idea and important comments made. You can’t recreate a recipe perfectly without the recipe actually in front of you. The same goes for concepts presented in client meetings. Four weeks down the road, you aren’t going to remember every idea that came from your meeting, so make sure to record, record, record!
With tons of ideas flying around, it is easy to get off topic. Therefore, as the moderator, make sure that the meeting stays on task and refer back to your agenda. That being said, don’t be a dictator of the kitchen. Ensure that your client is comfortable with presenting their ideas and input regarding the objective.
After ideas have been shared, your notes are filled to the brim, and brains are all stormed out, it’s time to conclude the meeting. Have a quick recap before dismissal. Make sure you and your client are on the same page when it comes to the success of your objective and leave room for any closing comments.
Once wrap up is complete, the hard job begins.
You have come back from a successful meeting and have tons of ideas for your client? Great! But now what? What are you supposed to do in the weeks ahead?
Perhaps the most important step is to refine the information talked about in your meeting. Sure, you and your client had lots of ideas, but they might not all be right for your end goal. This is when your record of the meeting comes in handy. Go through your notes, cross out comments, tweak ideas, and polish the best concepts. After that, you’ll be ready to implement a road map towards your objective.
Set the Table and Set Up a Meeting
Sure, client meetings aren’t always rainbows and daisies, but they don’t have to be a nightmare.
By planning and implementing a strategy, a client meeting can bring great success to not only your agency, but also your client’s business. New ideas, fresh outlooks, and creative concepts are all positive consequences of an efficient meeting, and who doesn’t want positive results?
So get to planning and forget about your nerves, because I guarantee you that an effective meeting will bring a lot to the table.