It was a Monday morning. I received an email from Facebook: “You have removed from your admin role…” SHIT! My mind raced. I immediately thought something was wrong with my Facebook account since those techie asshats are always changing things…and then I realized, my client just fired me.
Unfortunately, I lack a lot of traits of many successful entrepreneurs. Fortunately, I’m good at failing fast and am quick to see where I go wrong, and (sometimes) take the appropriate steps to improve my game.
Even more fortunately, I learned that I didn’t really screw up on the social media management side. (I was really taking pride in my work.)
Clients come and go. I think it’s called churn.
But I did fuck up. Let’s go over what I learned so you can avoid my mistake.
Show the Sizzle
Now, I understand why people call themselves digital ninjas, alchemists, wizards, gurus, and all the other silly titles I see in this industry. Because we are ninjas and wizards!
And we need to show the sizzle.
It wasn’t good enough that I kept spreadsheets and records of my client’s growth, engagement, reach, etc. It wasn’t good enough that I knew the industry average and that we were performing exceptionally well. Nor was it enough that I had specific growth goals for each month and quarter.
These things weren’t good enough because I didn’t show them off.
Seriously, how much work is it to make a cutesy graph from my excel data and send it over once per week?
How much effort does it take to make a 5 point SWOT analysis?
Or to run a competitor report with comparative analysis?
Or to send a list of weekly Key Takeaways?
All these guys were seeing was some moderate growth and daily postings. They didn’t know what was going on under the hood. And it was my fault for not showing them.
You have to show the sizzle because most people don’t understand the…well…steak.
Establish Clear Goals
This should be a no-brainer, right? Not for me. I figured being a social media manager only required social media management. Jumping right in, I didn’t set clear goals. We didn’t discuss KPI’s. It was all about content and engagement. “Strategy”. Nothing quantifiable.
They said they wanted “brand awareness”, but I soon realized they valued my service based on actual follows and not reach or engagement.
Eventually, I ended up going stir crazy and set my own personal growth goals for their platforms. But again, I did not communicate this. See a trend?
The person signing the checks usually needs to justify the expense. And at the end of the day, if clients aren’t sure what the goals are and what your level of progress is, what are they paying you for?
Don’t Disclose Your Hourly Rate/Valuation
I gave an hourly rate and said, “I’ll do X amount of hours per month, at this price”. Again, without clear goals, these guys thought they had a personal marketing assistant on tap.
What I should have done was establish a proposal with quantifiable services and a price.
Not, “I’ll give you 40 hours per month”. But instead, “X amount of $” for the following:
- 30 pieces of branded, custom content
- Daily posting on Facebook and Instagram
- Weekly uploads to LinkedIn and G+ (incl. quantity)
- X amount of tweets per week
- X amount of growth per platform
By disclosing my hourly rate, I had to turn in a monthly time card for billing. I started my own business for a reason. I’m not really cool with time cards.
Act “As If”
I have a tendency to undervalue myself. I forget how many hours I’ve spent (and continue to spend) reading books, articles, taking notes and online classes, practicing techniques, investing in apps and technologies. I also overlook my natural talents and creative abilities.
I live in a shed, shop at the 99 Cents Store, and am afraid that I reek of my landlord’s crazy-lady disinfectant when I go to the Downtown LA penthouse meetings that I should not be allowed in.
But I am a Director of Social Media. I am the CEO of an international business (I have a client in London and outsource work to India and the Philippines). And I’m as resilient as a bed bug.
I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And gosh darn it, people like me!
I need to act as if I am Don Draper or Ray Kroc or Henry Ford—I have some messed up role models—because I am good enough to get to that level if I keep my head down and continue grinding.
And I need to overlook my immediate materialistic situation and focus on the fact that I am actually awesome at what I do. I provide a valuable service. And I need to charge appropriately for it.
I am often too eager to please. I immediately reply to texts and emails even if I’m in the middle of something. Greater people I know do not do this.
I conditioned my client to expect me to reply within minutes to his constant barrage of Facebook messages, thereby interrupting other projects and tasks and messing up my workflow — it only takes 4 blocks of 15 minutes to make an hour. And 15 minutes goes by really fast with unnecessary banter.
This also gave them the impression that I had nothing better to do than wait for whatever he thought I was waiting for.
Also, don’t add your clients as Facebook friends, unless you have an account strictly for business.
Give Them What They Want (Even If It Doesn’t Make Sense) Or Walk Away
They wanted links posted to Facebook from YouTube. I said no. They wanted to buy likes for their Facebook page. I said no. They wanted hashtags on their Facebook page. I said no.
I tried to explain the issues with reach and engagement with these tactics. They wanted it anyway and they went ahead and did it on their own.
At the end of the day, your client is the boss. The best you can do is consult them and try to mitigate damages if you want to keep them around. They signed the checks and I cashed them.
I didn’t realize that I am an expert. I forget this often because I only engage with people who are WAY smarter than me in growth hacking, social media, and digital marketing. But despite what my resume looks like (or living conditions), I know what I am capable of doing. And I need to acknowledge it.
My clients, on the other hand, have absolutely no idea what they were doing. I found out they spent $1,000 on boosted posts on Facebook to gain likes. OMG. I’ve got a buddy that’ll grow a page organically to 5,000 followers (US audience) at that rate — and the page’ll go viral. Or I could just run real targeted ads for growth, clicks, lead gen, or whatever else they wanted.
So, this wasn’t entirely my fault because they didn’t communicate with me what they were doing.
But if I had established clear goals and communicated them, there would have been more of an intellectual conversation where I could have actually shown my value as a specialist.
Getting Fired Helped Me Put Things into Perspective
Yes, my client was a bit of a pain in the ass, but I really enjoyed activating and building their social. I have other clients and continue to find more. But this was one of my babies, and though it is sad to see it go, I have learned several valuable lessons.
These lessons will definitely help me keep happier clients longer, and I’ll be able to charge more. Because I’m worth it.
Hopefully, somebody else will benefit from my mistakes. Either way, I know that these failures will lead to my greater success.
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Dan Raaf is a digital marketer who focuses on unconventional niches: Models, Marijuana, and Hip-Hop. He collaborates with top influencers, growth hackers, and scrappy entrepreneurs while specializing in social media growth, monetization, and ROI-based strategies.