How to be a GREAT client
Yes, you should expect great work from the people you do business with, but you will greatly improve your odds of receiving good work if you yourself are a great client. Here are some tips and tricks we can all use to be better professionals.
As the movers and shakers of the business world, whether small or large, we all embrace and incorporate passion in our lives. From working with clients and projects we feel passionate about to our time spent in the company of family and friends. Clients that we have found to be our favorites to work with are the ones who are also passionate about their businesses. That passion and excitement is incredibly contagious. It doesn’t matter what the business is; if they are excited, we will get excited with them.
Unfortunately though, we have all heard those terrible client horror stories. For the most part, however, we all have to wonder if maybe they didn’t realize how their actions affected the outcome of their projects. Perhaps they didn’t know how to be a good client. But…. maybe the blame is on us for not letting them know, in a friendly way of course, that they were a bad client. so maybe they didn’t think they needed to change anything. How can anyone be expected to fix a problem they don’t know is there? It is my hope that this piece, taking a light-hearted and humorous approach, will help to shed some light on the best ways to avoid becoming on those terrible client horror stories..
For us here at Creative Webolutions, Content and information are the building block we need to do our job. Prompt responses to answers or questions, and quick delivery of content, help to prevent delays in the project’s timeline. We know a client wants their work done as fast as possible. While no one should be expected to “drop everything” or be pensively waiting next to the phone like a teenager back when we only had the one corded phone in the kitchen and you were worried your little brother would beat you to the phone, it is important to realize that every delay adds up and stretches out the timeline. Often, work can’t continue until we get that response. It's true that time is money and in this case, time is YOUR money. If an agency needs something, a good client should do what they can to send it right away.
Respect Professional Boundaries
One of the greatest advantages to utilizing a small sized company over a large agency is the personal one-on-one attention we can provide. While we do our best to be available to our clients it’s important for us to respect each other. We must acknowledge that we all do have other clients, families, and a life outside of our work, oh and we businessy types don’t like to admit it but we do occasionally require a wink of sleep. ;) Therefore it is imperative, in the interest of a good professional relationship, that we are mutually respectful towards each other in our dealings. Nobody likes to be woken up at 2 am (or for those of us night owls we don’t want have to put down the pizza and ice cream and pause the latest episode of our favorite show so we can try to act professional for a phone call) this means that messages, phone call, and requests made of either party, should be handled during appropriate business hours.
If an agency is going to market their client successfully, then it is important for them to know as much about the clients business as possible. Clients should never assume anything. Thorough and detailed explanation of a client's business will reap the best results. What product or service generates the most revenue? What is not working? When are your busy and slow seasons? What is your unique selling proposition? What are your business goals? When you come to your initial consultation Be prepared with as many details as possible about your needs. Even better, fill out a needs questionnaire before you come. The more details you can give the better and the questionnaire will help you figure out what you need if your unsure.
There are many aspects of this profession that we often do not charge our clients. For example: time spent answering emails and messages, time spent doing research and writing proposals, time spent preparing for and driving to Client meetings. When we meet with our clients we like to give them our undivided attention for as long as they need. Being prepared is the best way to make the most use out of our time together. Prepare for these conversations and meetings by coming with a clear plan about what she want to discuss and bring any necessary materials that may be needed with you. You really can't be over-prepared.
You hired me for a purpose
As business professionals we all know that clients come from many places. Some clients come to us because they have seen our work. Some come because a friend recommended us. Some because they know what we do and they don't have time to do it themselves. More often than not, our clients need us to do something that they do not know how to do. As an agency, we assume one thing – you need our help. Maybe you don’t know the first thing about marketing. Or maybe you know a lot, but don’t have the time or resources to do it yourself. Either way, you're paying us to be creative. We don’t like to compete with our clients for good ideas. Collaborate? Yes, absolutely. Compete? Not at all. As a client, you get to decide but we really encourage you to be open to new marketing ideas.
If you're feeling doubts the best thing to do is research our credentials. If you're concerned about the prices we welcome you to get a quote from another professional. As a client, you should do your homework. You have dozens of agencies and companies to choose from. Don’t choose blindly, it will just breed doubt. A great client is a well-informed client who Trusts us to do our job right. Trust is incredibly important in any business relationship.
We want and expect constructive feedback and comments on our work. We want to resolve any issues our clients may have, because we want to do business with our client again . We Also like to know when we are doing things right whether that's sending us a comment for leaving us a review. Answering questions thoroughly reduces the chances for mistakes or extra work. To do our job to our best capacity we need to understand your business, understand your market, know what your goals are, as well as any potential hurdles. Ongoing, transparent feedback in both directions is key. If you don’t think your agency is performing, then be direct and say that. Your agency can't improve or make changes if they don’t know there is a problem. Be respectful in your feedback. We do encourage honest and open dialogue, but we don’t take kindly to bullying.
Remember that we’re human
Delays, typos and mistakes sometimes happen and so do illnesses, family emergencies, and of course temporary attacks of stupidity. We’ll do our best to correct problems if they happen. We understand that things happen, that our clients will make mistakes, and request the same understanding from you.
Remember that we’re a business too
Approve those invoices and pay bills on time. Be prompt sorting out the paperwork such as purchase orders quickly. Sometimes we may require you to purchase a subscription or an account that needs to be in your name. Prompt attention to these matters will avoid delays in the project. These things are often the tools that we've require to build your project. We are a business like any other and we have our own expenses. We have business expenses, rent and bills, and literally people to feed. Because we work with small businesses and startups we strive to offer flexible payments but we do not work for free. A good client pays their bills promptly and in return is trusted. We can’t be flexible with you if we don’t trust you.
If we ask you to increase your budget, go ahead and ask why. If the reasoning is solid and supported by data then you should listen to our advise. We are committed to letting the data drive the marketing strategy. This is how it works. We don’t suggest that you spend more because we feel like it’s just a good idea. If your paid advertising budget is performing, but it’s running out halfway through the month, your company is losing out on a significant amount of potential business.
The Bottom Line (or two)
As business owners, we all want to do the best job possible for our clients and get them the results they want. The best way to do that is to make every effort to follow good professional relationship principles like those I have outlined here. it will make everyone's life easier and make for happier customers. ;)
David Ogilvy world renowned advertiser had this to say: “Clients get the advertising they deserve.” I say EVERYONE gets out of something what they put into it.