21 July 2006

My friend the client

I've known him for years. I worked for him in the early 1970s. We don't see him as much these days because he's up there and we're down here ... He was in town this week for the Air Show which takes place every two years. He runs the sales and marketing function for a business which provides a range of services to companies in the aerospace sector. He had a stand in a hall with inadequate air conditioning and came round to have dinner with us on Tuesday and Thursday. He wasn't impressed with the quality of the facilities at the show, but that's another story.

As normal in these things we brought ourselves up to date on what we have been doing and he asked how Chris, Phil and I shared out the work amongst us. I gave him the elevator pitch so that he wouldn't fall asleep and said "Why don't we take a look at your site and see how well your team is doing".

In only a few moments we were able to show how he ranked against his major keywords as well as providing him with details of his links and a robot's eye view of his site. We also dug out some search volumes. It was, as the saying goes, an eye opener. His team had been telling him one thing, the reports that we were capturing from the screen were telling him something quite different. At least he is now better prepared for his next meeting with them.

For me, that's the key to being a good client - if you aren't informed there is a non-zero chance that you won't get best value out of the contractual relationship. If you don't understand what your contractor is doing, then you won't be able to give them your best insights into how the work should be modified to reflect the opportunities which are available. Without current information, you are not able to manage your contractor effectively. Resources will always be tight - there is never enough time or cash so prioritisation is key - and a lack of information means that the prioritisation task isn't well informed.

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