There are a couple of project claims that get me every time. I know this and yet I find myself buying this stuff over and over again. In grooming products alone, I need not do a second more research if the marketing touts fuller hair, a matte finish, or no clumps. These are clear "solutions" to some deeply held beliefs that my hair is too flat, skin too shiny, and eyelashes too prone to sticking together. All obvious beauty disasters.
After having my first baby, I left one of the baby superstores (the scope and scale of which still amaze me) with $200 in lotions, potions, and accessories promising to help my 2 week-old sleep through the night. Ha! Intellectually, I can't connect how a lavender bath wash reduces fussiness 6 hours later at 2am but whatever. I was buying it just in case.
Products (especially any sold at your local CVS) have a shorter path from claim to consumer purchase than services do. The lower dollar amount and return policies empower the buyer to accept more of the risk than our typical consulting client would. Of course this makes sense. But are there lessons to apply to our pitches and proposals?
While writing the bid, do you know which claims resonate-- not with your or your boss--but with the client? Often we're guessing but these might be the most important details to take away from pre-proposal meetings.
Periodically, we could all use a reminder to back up your claims and deliver. I'm willing to take a gamble on volumizing (tsk, tsk-- this world clearly should be in the spellchecker dictionary) spray for $3.99. But, if it doesn't work, they have one-time sale and I move on. With this in mind, I think its a good idea to ask your new clients during kick-off about what stood out to them in your bid and what they're most looking forward to seeing accomplished. The answer may not line up with your planned focus.
Given the size of their investment, do we respect the difficulty of the client's decision? A lot of times, we take their risk for granted and ignore emotions tied to owning responsibility for a big purchase. During project start-up a couple of months ago, I actually watched my brand new client sit on the edge of his seat and bite his nails while his boss interviewed the team he'd just hired. An extreme example but no one in the room could walk away not realizing this was a big deal for him. However, most of the time we think, "Hey, it's all good. They've clearly decided that they need the work and included it in their annual budget." True yet I've found that invariably clients faced some internal resistance getting from idea to contract. So, it pays off down the road to invest in the relationship and acknowledge the pressures they're under to make sure contract execution goes well.