We have a staff meeting every other week where we update each other on current projects, learn about new projects in the pipeline, and share whatever’s on our mind — ideas, aha’s, resources, etc. It’s a busy and productive time, but we’re a quirky, creative, motley crew and there’s usually a lot of storytelling and laughing too.

At a recent staff meeting, Adrianne, our Operations Director, decided to shake things up a bit. She asked us to pair up with someone we hadn’t worked with in a while and had us to take turns guiding each other, while blindfolded with bandanas, for short four-minute excursions.

(Adrianne has an awesome collection of bandanas, so you know. I’m pretty jealous.)

The point of this blindfolded exercise is to represent what a new client / marketer relationship feels like. It’s our job to ask the right questions, like the ones below, then listen carefully, and respond to our clients’ needs.

What do you want to explore?

How can I best guide you?

How far do you want to go?

Gentle, but firm.

When you’re steering someone around who’s blindfolded, you need to be gentle, but firm, so you can steer them in the right direction. The same is true for new clients who may not fully understand the strategy and implementation involved when it comes to SEO, PR, and Social Media. It takes time and patience to explain these concepts to business owners or managers who may not be familiar with this scope of work. Firm leadership and a clear, integrated plan gives our clients the confidence they need to know which way we’re going, together.

Baby steps.

When you’re guiding someone who’s blindfolded, it’s all about baby steps. The same can be said for guiding new clients. The big picture is absolutely important, but the steps it takes to get there are crucial. Breaking it down for businesses so that they know where they are and how they should proceed, step by step, to achieve their marketing goals is essential to creating a partnership style relationship. By being straightforward, clear, and transparent, companies know where (and what!) they’re stepping into and how to get their footing.

Establishing contact.

I can’t tell you how sweet it was to see some of my coworkers guiding their blindfolded charges around. There was hand holding, linked arms, and something close to partner dancing. When it comes to building client relations, it’s all about establishing contact. Some of our business clients are like friends; others prefer a more formal arrangement. The same goes for communication styles – they differ from client to client. Some clients like to pop in and visit when they’re in the neighborhood. Others want to communicate via email or IM or prefer to be reached only by phone. Styles differ, but the goal is always the same: It’s about building trust, and a relationship that feels genuine, mutual, considerate, and respectful.

Trusting your co-pilot.

You reach a point of surrender when you’re blindfolded and being guided on a new journey. It feels unnatural, especially for natural born leaders (like entrepreneurs) to let someone else steer you along, but that’s why our clients come to us. They know that we are experts in our field and they want our help. The best client relationships exist when trust is a two-way street. They trust us to lead them and we trust them to follow through with our recommendations for best practices to achieve their goals.

If you’re still a little uncertain about how to navigate client relationships, don’t worry! Chat with us about how we can help you achieve your goals.