Read the Manual

What does your business do? You get that question, right? What if you could answer it in an easy-to-consume (but detailed!) way by responding with just a link. 

On July 15th 2018, David C Baker wrote about using a “Client Orientation Manual” as a marketing tool((Here’s David’s great post: I will repeat the advice he gave to open up his article: 

“Before you decide that this might not be interesting enough to read, consider passing it along to a key leader and letting them take charge of this project. You’ll be amazed at the impact on your firm.”

I took this excellent advice and have been using my own client orientation manual for just about a year and a half now. You should too, for reasons that David breaks down very well. But my version of the client orientation manual is a little more modern (and a little more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants) for reasons that I want to break down really quickly.

It’s Informal. My manual omits the formal documents and concepts (“typical agreements”, “change orders”, “approval policy”, “quality checks”). Why? Partly I don’t want to focus on what happens if things go wrong. But partly because I think we all should move towards lower-touch, self-service modes of paying and getting paid. Because life is too short. In fact, my manual contains a link to an online ordering page. That said, for more formally structured consulting firms in particular, you might consider a version closer to what David C Baker recommends.

It’s cloud-based (in deck format). Rather than being a formal PDF, let alone a printed artifact as David suggests, I use a Google Slides deck. This makes it incredibly easy to update, easy to share, and easy to access. It also lets me walk through the deck if need be on a call with prospective or new clients, partners, or anyone else who cannot figure out what I do from reading my website. ((It was wonderful validation to see another marketing consultant (and a much smarter and more accomplished one than I am) also use Google Slides to publish. Except he takes it about 10x further and puts his entire website on one Google Slide:

It’s frequently micro-updated. On the first page of my deck, I claim it’s the 12th version, though looking at my edit history in Google Slides, I see that I have actually made changes to it on 47 different days (some of them minor). One of the beauties of Google Slides vs a traditional web page (or Powerpoint) is that it encourages frequent and collaborative updates. 

Speaking of which, version 13 of my client orientation manual is coming soon, as I narrow my focus in 2020 in three areas:

  • Emphasis on creative ideation as the foundation of all marketing, business development, and product design.
  • Blending of B2B and B2C approaches, partly to better serve Digital Health entrepreneurs. And partly because our society and its economy seem to blur those lines more and more. ((Here’s an interesting idea for a whitepaper or research project: how do you apply ABM (Account-Based Marketing) to B2C sales and marketing? If you have any ideas, let me know ))
  • Focus on delivering agile advice: more self-service, more iterative, and more productized. I’m done with monolith marketing assessments, plans, and “strategies”. Advice should be dispensed the way software should be built: iteratively.

By the way, I will also continue to focus on what I don’t do – another of the many joys of writing your own client orientation manual.

Want a head start? Copy mine and start hacking away: (Open in Google Slides and save your own copy)

My best,