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[1]. 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. [2]

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. [3]
  • 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,

Footnotes & Errata
  1. Here’s David’s great post: 
  2. 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: 
  3. 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