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Pick me and I will make your life easier

July 30, 2019

At the end of each project that I work on I ask my client to provide a testimonial for marketing purposes, and my clients very kindly say that they like working with me.

“Ruth was a joy to work with.”

“Ruth was brilliant to work with.”

“Ruth was great to work with.”

What strikes me is that the reason clients appreciate my work is not always the same reason that they picked me for or the metric that they originally used to judge me against others.

Yes, I am professional, educated, accredited, and experienced.  Yes, I am skilled in research methodologies and I provide clients with useful and usable data, reports and recommendations.  Yes, I do the job I was paid to do and I do it well.

But that’s not what clients write about in the testimonials, that’s not what sticks with them when the work is done.

Ultimately, my clients like me because I make their life easier.

Firstly, I am 100% reliable.

I keep my clients updated in a way that suits their working style and ensures they know that the project is on track:

“She was very good at checking in with us.”

“Always keeping us informed about how it was going.”

“Throughout the project we really appreciated the way in which Ruth always kept us informed of progress.”

I always deliver what I promise on time and on budget:

“You delivered when you said you would.”

“She provides exactly what she states she will.”

“She stayed right on top of things and managed the process to make sure all milestones were hit.”

Secondly, I care as much as they do.

I listen to my clients and get to the heart of their needs, priorities and aspirations:

“Ruth took time to understand and consider our needs.”

“Ruth understood our needs quickly.”

“Although our project felt quite complicated to us, in our first meeting Ruth was quickly able to understand what we wanted to achieve and articulate in simple terms our options for how to go about it.”

I am genuinely interested in my clients’ projects:

“Ruth approaches all aspects of her work with a genuine interest.”

“Ruth is informed and interested in the work she does – her ability to engage with the subject matter brings greater value to the finished work.”

“Her knowledge and passion for the arts and social issues was a huge asset.”

I treat my clients’ stakeholders and beneficiaries with respect and empathy:

“Ruth is an excellent communicator and really ‘good with people’ – negotiating her way around our complex array of stakeholders.”

“All of our stakeholders that she engaged with reported that she was engaging and a pleasure to talk to.”

“Ruth was very successful putting people at ease and encouraging them to share their experiences and views.”

“She gently found a way of engaging with everyone.”

Thirdly, I get what it is like to work in the not-for-profit sector.

I know that sometimes things need to turnaround quickly, and I happily work within client deadlines:

“Working to meet our objectives within a tight timetable and budget.”

“Ruth completed it with a sense of urgency as we had a board meeting approaching.”

“The work required her to meet very quick deadlines, which she did in a most efficient and effective manner.”

I know that sometimes things change, and I’m patient and flexible when they do:

“Ruth was very patient with some demanding and changing tasks.”

“She was totally flexible and understanding when our deadlines shifted several times.”

“Ruth was flexible and pragmatic in her approach.”

“Ruth had endless patience.”

And crucially, working with me can reduce client workload and stress levels:

“Working with Ruth took all the stress out of doing the research.”

“Ruth took the pressure off us.”

“It was hugely beneficial to find that we could hand the project off to her and trust it would be completed to the highest standard.”

“Ruth has worked independently to deliver the project on time, on budget with limited support. With our team under staffed and lacking in resources the opportunity to work with a researcher who is abled and skilled in the ability to project manage and deliver is not to be underestimated.”

It has been really interesting for me to observe where my value lies, but it is something that I find is difficult to demonstrate.  Clients don’t appear to be looking for or prioritising these kinds of softer skills so if I mention them when I’m trying to win work they miss the mark.  Even if I do try and shoehorn in that I am going to be patient and reliable and treat your beneficiaries properly it sounds very bare minimum.  Clients can and should expect no less from a consultant.

It is a marketing conundrum.

And while I ponder that I will just get on with doing my job.

Over the past nine years of trading 47% of my income has come in through repeat business and 20% through recommendation so I must be getting something right.


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