Manage Your Client’s Expectations by Helping Them Create a Marketing Plan
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Manage Your Client’s Expectations by Helping Them Create a Marketing Plan

The advice to under promise and over deliver is often offered to business professionals. However, for many marketing freelancers working with clients that have limited budgets, that advice becomes almost impossible to follow.

Oftentimes, small businesses have to squeeze as much as they can out of every dime they spend. They have to ensure they can pay their bills on time, order more products, pay their employees, and handle any unexpected expenses that might come along. So when it comes time for them to invest in their marketing, they want to spend as little as possible with the hopes of immediately increasing sales to an amount that will take their business to the next level.

Because small businesses are working with small budgets they often turn to freelancers who they see as much more cost-effective than hiring an agency. When they find a freelancer they like working with many business owners will look to that person as their marketing person, even if what they hired them for initially was just to build a website. When this happens the small business owner will begin to ask about having the site rank on search engines, running social media campaigns, launching a newsletter.

It is at this point in the relationship that the seeds to frustration, wasted time, and poor investment of money are planted.

Most marketing freelancers are skilled in multiple disciplines, we have to be, and perhaps your can take on the extra tasks or perhaps build a team to work with you. But rather than taking orders from the client about which marketing tactics they want to launch next, it is vital that you build out a marketing plan.

This is something the client should pay you for and they may resist paying you for it. They want results, not a plan.

It is important to explain that launching several marketing tactics without a guiding plan is equivalent to a store owner randomly buying a variety of products just to see which ones will sell without having any idea what kind of clients they will be selling to.  Sure some of those products will sell, but there will be a lot of wasted expense for the items no one wanted. And just like a store owner tracks what products are selling and which aren’t and invests more in what is selling, they should track which marketing efforts are working and which aren’t.

Before agreeing to provide any service to your client, make sure you understand Who are they selling to? What problem or need are they serving? How do their clients/customers perceive their problem or need? What are their emotions about engaging with your client’s products or services? Is there a point in time your client’s offerings become urgent? How do your client’s customers typically look for solutions to the problems or needs that your client provides?

Once you have that information then help your client prioritize who their messages should be targeted to, which emotional appeals should work, which tactics are going to bring in business first, and what the analytics of a successful effort looks like.  Every small business owner has friends, family, and peers giving them advice on which marketing tactics they should employ and they feel like they have to do all of them. But they do not have the budget to do so. Unfortunately, without proper guidance, they will either invest a little money into several tactics which will yield poor results or they will focus only on the tactics they understand which will yield unpredictable results. Either way, if they are paying you to follow their orders, it won’t matter that you are doing as they ask, they will blame you for the poor results. If you are going to be held responsible then it is your responsibility to educate your clients on what they should be doing and what results they should expect.

Related: Why Small Business Marketing Fails


I am a sales and marketing consultant, helping business leaders with limited budgets clarify and prioritize where they should spend their sales and marketing budget to obtain the best results. Contact me at

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