Don’t learn social media at the expense of your client


You have a client that trusts you. You have been tasked with handling some aspect of their marcom endeavor and you are kicking ass. They ask you about this social media thing.  You tell them what you know. But it’s not what you “do”.  Then it happens.

They ask you if they should “do ” it and whether you could do it for them. You say yes to the first question, and to the second you say…

Don’t do it. You’ll earn more respect for saying that you are not qualified then you would for muddling and scuffling through something that on the surface would seem somewhat basic and rudimentary. You have earned their trust. Trust is gold.

I could change the starter in my car, but it would take maybe 8 hours, maybe 2 days, maybe longer, and there is no guarantee that it will be done correctly. Or, I could go to my friend Curt’s house, he has a ton of tools, some books, and though he’s not a mechanic, he’s done some stuff with his car in the past. He has some faint knowledge of what’s under the hood. How hard could it be? Shouldn’t take TOO long.

Or I could go to the mechanic who works on nothing but my type of vehicle and he could do it before lunch. Might take him 2 hours tops. It’s done and done right. I know exactly what I’m going to get. My expectations are in line with my mechanics goals. He does what he does best.

Makes sense to me.

If it’s not what you do, just say it!

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9 Responses to “Don’t learn social media at the expense of your client”

  1. 1 Tom Martin June 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm


    From your lips to the ears of agencies and clients around the world I hope.

    Our firm spent more than a year in quiet “beta” mode learning, testing, trying before we ever so much as whispered to a client that we could help them with their SocMe needs.

    Hundreds if not thousands of man hours were invested by the firm. It was hard, painful (usually those hours came after 5 and before 9) but in the end, we are able to honestly say (IMHO) that we get it and can help guide them.

    Yet I still see firms that are all talk no substance. I feel sorry for their clients who are being sold a bill of goods.


  2. 2 Frank Martin June 24, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Along those lines I had a Agency colleague call me the other day and want a price for focus groups. One of their staff was going to be the “mediator”.

    Unless they are setting up a fight, what he meant was Moderator.

    Think that client is going to get a good return on his research investment?

  3. 3 Adam Cohen June 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    There’s a great book anyone in a professional services role should read, called “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play.” The premise you outline Marc holds true for any service being provided. Be honest and candid about what your experience is or you risk the ability to deliver on quality and expectations. Sooner or later it comes back to bite you.

    That said, with the right approach agencies can develop new skills (by hiring or practicing) and can start to build up an offering in a given area with some clients who trust and have a willingness to make the leap based on the strength of the partnership. It’s a very careful balance, but duping and selling a bill of goods is just flat out wrong. Great thought provoking post as usual Marc.

  4. 4 marc meyer June 24, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks Adam, I’m finding I get more work by just saying whether something is within my realm or not. As much as I want the work- it’s better to be a realist than a surrealist.

  5. 5 marc meyer June 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Whats the line Tom, the harder you work, the luckier you get? Great example you provide about doing your homework behind the scenes..

  6. 6 marc meyer June 24, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    @ Frank, that’s absolutely classic!

  7. 7 Mark Trueblood July 2, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Or, you can pay the mechanic to train you, and enlist his help until you can fix the starter yourself.

  8. 8 marc meyer July 2, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    In a perfect world..

  1. 1 Box Scores: June 22-28 “Trust, dominos, and pick-up basketball” | Deep Bench Trackback on June 29, 2009 at 4:15 pm
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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.


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