In a recent meeting with our sales staff we discussed the particulars of several new business pushes in various states of planning and execution. This discussion — and the opportunity to focus on our own marketing lead me to consider the basics that we provide to our customers and partners.

The Start

It should come as no surprise that a lot of thought and time goes into proposals. It’s rarely as simple as “pulling numbers.” Nearly every project starts with an element of discovery to truly understand the request prior to research and strategy, followed by considerations of how to share this information — layout, design, etc.

There’s an ever present thought throughout this process. This is, and may be our only shot, at selling ourselves. Appropriately, we invest time with that in mind.

However, in the majority of cases the proposal is unlikely to be considered a deliverable. The client didn’t pay for this work (most of the time), and that makes it easier to under-value the information contained within. If you’re footing the bill, your much more focused on the service, or more likely the results that you’re paying for. The plan is great, but our clients hire us because they trust our ability to execute and deliver.

Hopefully Not … The End

Obviously we provide a service guided by a formalized process, the majority of which our clients never see. The exception is of course reports.

We must remember that for the most part, this information is self-reported from the client’s point of view. There’s a lot of trust in that, and we acknowledge that while that trust is often casually handed over — that doesn’t mean we take that responsibility lightly. We also understand that reports are many times our only true deliverable and represent the greatest opportunity to highlight the value of our services.

We’ve always understood that the work we do is incredibly valuable to our clients. That morning meeting lead us to double our efforts to ensure our reporting communicates our execution of the plan and the value we bring beyond simply executing. In the next few weeks, our clients will begin to see the results of resource investments we’ve made to improve the quality and visibility of our results and reports. We hope that by treating each report as a proposal to continue our partnership with clients, we’ll all benefit.