Business Advice: Why over-delivering may not be a good thing

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Business Advice: Why over-delivering may not be a good thing ...

Marketing Strategy

Under Promise and Over Deliver



We've all been raised on the theory "under promise and over deliver." For any business professional, this is the business advice we've been taught to follow.

A recent episode, though, has proven to me to no longer follow this mantra.

The Promise

I hate doing bad or incomplete work. I love marketing and I really love doing good marketing. Thus, when that's not what clients want - or at least, don't want to pay for - I adjust the project scope accordingly and we get to work.

The problem for me is staying to the stated terms. Because doing things right and better frequently takes as little time and doing things poorly, it's been too often that I make exceptions and will do the right thing, the better thing, at no extra charge. The client gets a better value and I sleep better and have the pride of having done a good job.

The Problem

The problem arises that there are clients who get spoiled (or are spoiled already) and then expect that there is no limit to the accommodations that you'll make for them. They are not the least bit appreciative of the added value you gave to them and the work you were doing for them. Rather than the praise, the gratitude and, most importantly, the referrals, these clients become negative against you. 

For example, when we build websites, there is a cut-off - anything to go on the new site must be in hand by DATE. After that, there will charges for web changes, but these will not be incorporated into the original build. MOST clients get that.

A few, however, do not.

In practice, we have tried to work with clients that, if we haven't worked on that section of the site, or it's simply a swap of, say, one picture for another, sure, no problem, we'll take care of it. Again, it's not duplicate work and it deepens the relationship between the client and the agency.

However, as I said, there are those...

Boundaries and Borders

As in any relationship in life, establishing - and maintaining - boundaries and borders is imperative. 

With these clients for whom I've given the added value for free, I am the one who created the conditions by which certain clients tried to take advantage of us. I am the one who created the circumstance where their sense of entitlement led them to believe there was no end to the freebies they could not only ask for but (gasp!) expect.

So I have no one to blame but myself. The classic 'a few bad apples spoil the lot' holds true - most clients have been incredibly grateful for the added value and flexibility.

Alas, the few greedy ones have made me truly rethink the wisdom of not being strict to the terms of the proposal.

Cheating Myself

We offer tremendous value to our clients. We think through business and marketing decisions from not only a flat 360 degrees, but really from a global perspective - what are the implications of using this online booking system to the ownership of your list and your credit card processing? How does that print ad relate to your website and supply chain? Can you scale to meet the demand this promotion would generate?

By keeping up on trends and technology developments, and ultimately by being really smart marketers who know how to tie the various pieces together into a coherent vision, we offer tremendous value to our clients.

So giving any of it away is not doing a service to the clients - they won't appreciate the benefit if they don't see a dollar sign with it. And it certainly doesn't offer any benefit to us.


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