Waitress In The Sky

She don’t wear no pants, she don’t wear no tie,
Always on the ball, always on strike,
Struttin up the aisle, big deal you get to fly,
You ain’t nothin but a waitress in the sky.
The Replacements, 1984

This politically incorrect little ditty brings back some great memories for me.  (Full disclosure, most of which are a bit fuzzy.) It got me thinking...

How many of you digital & social media pros feel as though you’re the “waitress in the sky” in today’s business landscape? Probably 100% of you. It’s frustrating.

Why bring it up then? Well, because I believe there are three reasons clients summarily discount the hard work done by those in our profession. I also believe that there are fixes for these three obstacles. These fixes can be implemented to forge a perception shift in our prospective and new clients’ minds that will lead to a place where we will no longer feel like the “waitresses (or waiters) in the sky.”

Operation “Waitress in the Sky”

Discounting obstacle 1:

There aren’t many professions out there in which your prospective client participates in that same specialty on a regular basis.  Almost everyone carries their social media persona in the palm of their hand. The successful platforms that most of the world can’t do without were developed to be intuitive and dummy proof.  They’re so easy, everyone can use them and most people do.

Compare & contrast: Imagine going to your next dentist appointment, plunking yourself down in the chair & exclaiming, “I got this doc. Go grab some lunch…Oh, before you go though, where is the emergency off switch on this drill?  It doesn’t look like the one I saw on YouTube.”

That VP of marketing may discount the expertise you possess just because he gets the Mashable email or his daughter talks about Instagram at the dinner table. To move forward, accept that your digital skills, critical thinking, and professionalism will be discounted by prospects.  Address it up front.

Fix:   Acknowledge the discounting issue early in the sales cycle with your prospect. This is really the one (and only) time to make him aware that you’re aware of the obstacle. Then clearly give your pitch as to why it is important to hire a pro for this crucial area of marketing.  The key here is to establish your undeniable credibility and professionalism early. Then, ask good questions and LISTEN to the answers. When you’re hired, follow-through and implement a strategy and solutions that address what is important to them.

Discounting obstacle 2:

There are way too many people jumping into digital & social media marketing that don’t have the proper training and dedication that a real digital pro possesses. The result: A black eye for the entire industry’s reputation and an even tougher battle to attract new business.

Fix:  Again, transparency and acknowledgement early on about the issue is crucial, but don’t dwell on it.  Say it early in discussions, get it out there and let it go.  They’ll know you’re the real deal.  How do we know?  Well, would one of these unprofessional knuckleheads so-called social media experts bring this up in the first 10 minutes of meeting number one with a prospective client? (If you’re even contemplating whether the answer is a yes, you are one of the above-mentioned knuckleheads and you are part of the problem, not the solution. Take a smoke break)

Discounting Obstacle 3:

The digital and social media world seems to have a much higher than normal percentage of “the smartest guys in the room” and it gives all of us a bad rap.  These “smart guys” pepper conversations with industry jargon they know will go over a prospective client’s head.  They’re usually the ones that throw in a lot of misplaced and unnecessary MBA-speak such as, “We need to find the delta,” or “There’s no THERE, there.”

Let’s face it, we meet with very intelligent people most of the time.  When most of these execs hear “the smartest guys” blather on & on they may appear to be nodding in agreement but they’re probably just thinking, “What’s this guy overcompensating for, anatomically?” 

Fix:  Don’t be a smart guy (or gal) even though you know you could be one.  We’re not just speaking with clients, we’re communicating.  Really smart people communicate in a relatable manner so that everyone in the meeting walks away feeling informed and enlightened. This is the best way to show expertise.

Oh, here’s my inspiration:  “Waitress in the Sky” by Paul Westerberg & The Replacements. 

Enjoy! Let’s take the conversation online and talk more about this on Twitter @ThinPigMedia