BL&T No. 186: Slow Now, Fast Later Isn't Always the Way

Agency Leadership

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"What are our thoughts about scopes of work? We need to develop SOWs proactively, rather than wait for clients to tell us what they want us to do. Being more proactive is something we will need to build into our culture if we are to focus on helping clients solve problems and generate results."

From "Madison Avenue Makeover" by Michael Farmer [Book]


In client work, especially new business, I often subscribe to the 'slow now, fast later' approach, taking time at the start to ensure speed later on. That might mean doing proper due diligence to scope a project or conducting customer interviews before proposing a website strategy.

However, like most things in life—there's a balance.

A few weeks ago, I had a call with a prospective client eager to begin work but also keen on taking the right next steps. They were unhappy with their website and mentioned a list of wants and needs. They needed help maintaining and optimizing the current site but wanted to begin planning a redesign. I suggested sending their wants and needs list along with website access so we could work on an approach. We ended the call with everyone nodding heads on the 'slow now, fast later' mindset.

Then... the list never came.

After following up, they promised it 'by tonight' but the next morning, you guessed it—no list.

I followed up again, but this time, considering the client's eagerness, I suggested a retainer to get the ball rolling immediately. We'd be doing a brief audit anyway, so in theory, the list could come just before we began that process, aka later.

The client quickly agreed: "Let’s get going and I’ll get you over our list."

We signed on for a 6-month retainer. Funny enough, we're now talking about skipping any list (we still don't have one) and focusing all our efforts on a website redesign.

While the "slow now, fast later" approach is valuable, this was a good reminder to read the situation, adapt accordingly, and most of all—make the client's life easier.


When have I failed to 'read the room' and adapt to my client's needs? What might have I done differently if given the chance?

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