Every encounter with a client is essentially a job interview

Every encounter with a client is essentially a job interview

Every encounter with a client, whether digital or in person, is essentially a job interview. As a marketing agency, we meet up with people from all sorts of business backgrounds: everyone comes with their own philosophy of what they believe is important in terms of marketing, but today I want to introduce you to a few marketing essentials from my perspective.
As you know, your business needs paying clients to survive, and clients come across your business all the time. Some choose to do business with you, while others do not.

Let’s compare that process to a man going for a job interview.

Meet Dave. Dave is a lawyer, and overall a great guy. He is looking for a new job in Cape Town, because he really wants to move to live closer to his family. He decides to get a few interviews lined up with top law firms.
Although there is no way for him to guarantee that he gets the job, there are definitely some things that he can and should do to make the best impression possible, and to make sure that he stands out amongst the other candidates:

He needs a few things to make a good impression:
  • The right outfit
  • A carefully crafted CV
  • A good handshake
Let’s start with his outfit:

Dave needs to pick something that says “I’ve got my stuff together and I carry authority”. The type of shirt and suit he chooses are really important – it really won’t help if he rocks up in an expensive shirt, cargo short and flipflops. Nobody will take him seriously. He needs to style that shirt with the right suit, the right shoes and the right tie that shows everyone he means business.

For his CV:

It won’t be good enough if Dave writes down his qualifications on a napkin or normal exam pad and hands that to the interviewer when he walks in – no matter how good his qualifications are. His CV needs to be well thought through, printed and bound neatly. How he puts together his CV says as much about him as the text that is written on the paper.

The shake:

When Dave walks into that meeting, he needs to look the interviewer in the eyes, give them a firm handshake, smile and speak with confidence. That handshake is like the first touchpoint of the meeting, and it says a lot.

How this applies to marketing in my opinion:

Your business is continually interviewing for a job with every prospective client that considers making use of your services.

Your Corporate Identity is the outfit you choose

We believe that your logo is like your shirt: it should say a lot about your business, but it also needs to be paired with the right stuff in order for the look to work together. How you style that shirt says a lot about who you are. You don’t want to be over- or under-dressed for your interview.
This is the reason why we don’t offer logo design as a service: we design a corporate identity, which includes your logo, but also reaches beyond that to your email signature, business cards, flyers, car branding, packaging, and all your other goodies. It is absolutely essential that you have your logo or icon paired with the right colours, fonts, backgrounds.
* I’ll say more about this in another blog over the next few weeks.

Your website is your CV

I work with businesses and their marketing EVERY SINGLE DAY of the last 5years, and the one thing that surprises me the most, is how out of touch people are with the thought patterns and purchasing habits of their clients. Maybe I am just a very different type of consumer than other people… How do you decide which brand to buy? (*this question is morphing into a whole new blog of it’s own: I will share that in the near future)
What I do think a lot of companies do not keep track of, is the fact that they do not only just need a website because business need websites: your website is competing with the websites of your competitors, and if your website is the uglier of the two, chances are you are not going to be the one that makes the sale. Statistically, 46% percent of clients base their opinion on the credibility of your website on the visual appeal thereof. But still, a lot of companies don’t plan for a website when they are planning their budget, so they end up having a very limited budget, or no budget at all, and then they end up using any guy off the street that can build them the cheapest website possible or trying to build their own website with free software…
My question is, if you get a pile of CVs, and some are professionally written and bound, and others are written by hand on exam pad paper or a serviette, which prospective employee would you call in for physical interview?

Your email address is you handshake

I am honestly continually astounded at how many people do business using free email accounts: something@gmail.com or mybusiness@telkom.co.za

I don’t know whether business owners are just not aware of how easy it is to get your own domain and personalized email address, or whether they are just not willing to spend the couple of hundred rand that this will cost them, but I personally don’t take people seriously if they use free email. I feel as if the business owner is not expecting the business to last, and therefore not willing to commit to a domain name and the associated cost. To me, it is a flimsy handshake. When I get handed a business card with a gmail address on it, I don’t really listen to the rest of the conversation – I just keep feeling that the guys is going to flake on me. And I definitely don’t want to pay them a deposit before receiving anything…


I know if might seem like I am being harsh, but in the end a prospective client is not going to go easy on you because you are nice: they are most likely in cold, hard , decision-making mode, and if you want to stand out among your competitors, then you have got to ace that interview even before you start talking, because the reality is that for many business owners today, the decision whether to use your business or not is made before the client ever speaks to you.

I’d love to hear from fellow business owners: what is your experience?

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