Monday, 22 June 2009

10 reasons to love clients and 10 reasons to walk away

I’m very lucky in that I have a lot of good clients. But there are a couple in particular that I really enjoy working for and probably do too much for, in truth. But the beauty of being your own boss is that you can choose to walk away from the rotten clients - oh yes, we have - and go the extra mile for the good ones.

We had to make a decision recently on whether to stick with a client or walk away, and it got me to thinking about when you'll go above and beyond; and when it’s just, well, over.

Here are my top tens each way.

When you’ll go the extra mile for a client:

  1. They say thank you for something you’ve worked really hard to achieve
  2. Occasionally, they ask you how you are.
  3. They pay you on time. Or at least when they say they will.
  4. They employ you for your advice and then listen to it. (Even if they don’t always take it.)
  5. They let you have direct access to senior people in the organisation. It really helps you work out what’s needed for the business.
  6. You get feedback. Good and bad. We need to know what impact our campaigns have.
  7. You call, and they answer the phone (it’s the small things that make me happy).
  8. They turn up for interviews / events / meetings (you’d be amazed).
  9. They understand that effective communications is about more than just column inches.
  10. They recommend us (I really love that). On LinkedIn, to other companies, I'm not fussy. It’s nice to be recommended.

When you start working to rule:

  1. The only time you speak to the decision maker is at the 6-month review. And s/he hates you.
  2. The objectives shift half-way through a campaign. Or it dawns on you that the objectives you agreed with marketing have nothing to do with the expectations of the person paying your invoice.
  3. You don’t get paid. Or you’re lied to about getting paid.
  4. The client sales team junior thinks s/he can do a better job than you. And tells you so. (I’m getting braver at saying, “fine, you go for it. Oh, and our crisis management rate is XX.”)
  5. You don’t get a thank you. Ever.
  6. You hear the words: “Can you get our new widget on the telly?
  7. Your story gets rewritten to include 18 corporate messages and a sprinkling of grammatical errors. (My own errors, of course, are fine.)
  8. You hear: “My wife / partner / friend / cousin has a mate who’s in PR, and they say we should be in the national press with this story.” (Of course they do, they want your cash. See previous blog on giving good advice, and why agencies lie to get business).
  9. They resent you going on holiday. Or worse, think that where you’re going is too expensive, and ask for a fee reduction as you’re being paid too much (that really has happened).
  10. Slowly, you feel your soul draining away, drop by drop. Get out, people.