Whenever you see businessmen in films going to meetings they have this omnibus of documents with them, as if trying to impress the customer through the sheer size of the stack of papers they have. It somehow infers that unless you present yourself with all the documentation and information which you have amassed over the years in physical form people will not take you seriously and neither will they consider you prepared. Today started off with a meeting with the owner and senior staff of St Andrews Aquarium and Fraser showed me how you are supposed to truly be in a meeting with a client. Sure, he had some documents with him but only few with the most important pieces of information, but what he truly had and required was knowledge; in-depth knowledge of the project he is working on, the expectation of his client, and – maybe most important – what kind of person his client was in regards to how he liked to be interacted with.
The meeting had one main focus and that was the new website of the Aquarium, together with the its new booking system, one which is state-of-the-art and even more advanced than the one used by Edinburgh Zoo. Fraser enquired about the thoughts and opinions of the owner and senior staff regarding the layout, display, and ease of use of the new website (which had gone live a few days previous), not forgetting to ask about the accuracy of information displayed (especially in concern to the animal descriptions). Fraser was like a fish in water – what an apt comparison since we are speaking of the Aquarium – he knew what to say and how to say it, he knew when to listen, what questions to ask, and when to offer suggestions. One could tell he was well versed in all aspects regarding the Aquarium and the project itself, coming across as not only knowledgeable and genuinely interested, but also as very confident on his proposal and expertise – but without seeming full of himself. He was genuine and personally vested in project’s success and that is exactly the kind of person the Aquarium wanted to do business with.
Seeing Fraser in action was a very educative and invaluable experience which taught me a lot about how I should be and want to be in the future when I will work in the field of business. It showed me how important it is to establish good rapport with your client in order to not only get to know them and the way they think to understand their expectations but, most importantly, to build trust. The outcome of the meeting was a very happy client who gave very positive feedback, being extremely happy over how useful, all-encompassing, and straightforward the website was (and ditto to the system behind it).
After the meeting I had the chance to have a look through the Aquarium – which I had never visited up until that point – and I was charmed by it. It was so lovely to go from area to area and from tank to tank and actually see the animals I comprised lists of and designed poster around. I even had a stingray come smile at me (granted, she was only up for some air but the timing was right and it put a smile on my face for the rest of the day) and a some very friendly penguins making jumps and tumbles in the water. I even had the chance to take a sneak peek to the Amazon Room which is now under construction and promises to be an experience on its own. I will definitely come back with my friends once it has its grand opening in April!
Once we were back at the office, Gordon and I had a look over the rough body of the poster we were discussing last week and I was pleasantly surprised of how it is beginning to look – especially since Gordon is helping me with a project which is not planned in the break-down and allocation of his working hours.
Afterwards, Fraser gave me the task of actually coming up with a presentation of my proposed advertising campaign for the Aquarium – one that I could then present to the owner. It gave much more gravity and importance to my work and research and motivated me to ensure that I will create and deliver the best quality presentation I can – now all I need to do (apart from extensive research and planning) is keep my fingers and toes crossed in the hopes that my ideas are not only viable but, also, to the liking of the Aquarium owner.