Everyone will have at least one client that is difficult to work with or just downright ungrateful. In any line of work, we all will experience working with such a person or persons, but it’s your job as a marketer to learn to work with your client not against them.
Here are six tips for dealing with difficult clients:
- Establish A Mutual Communication Strategy: This goes for any client but is a really useful tip for helping to make working with difficult clients easier. Right off the bat, discuss with the client what form of communication is best for the both of you for everything—meetings, general updates or notes, edits, proofs, etc. Agree upon whether you will use phone calls, email, Dropbox or even instant messenger to communicate and stick to your strategy to help keep lines of communication easy and open.
- Set Reasonable, Manageable Goals (Manage Expectations): Nobody likes to be promised one thing and given another, so make sure when discussing a client’s goals that you are managing not only their expectations but also your own. Set small, reasonable goals that you can build a manageable strategy around. Work up to larger goals long-term, especially if a client is on a tight budget. And finally, be up front with the client about how their budget and current marketing status can affect their overall goals, both short-term and long-term.
- Agree On A Budget & Stick to It! Clients’ will want leads because it often means sales, but if they begin to ask for projects outside their budget, stop. You need to agree to a budget and stick to it in your very first meeting to help avoid conflicts in the future. If a client really wants a specific project that will require extra monetary input (i.e. because you need to put in extra hours, need different tools, etc.) set up a new meeting and agree to a new budget before even moving forward to discuss the new project. TIP: Bring a detailed budget adjustment plan related to the new project with you so they can see why they need to pay more. Be sure to allow some room for adjustment too just to be safe in case something goes wrong.
- Bring in the Boss: Sometimes when things get difficult it’s better to let your supervisor handle things. Having someone older and with more experience can really go a long way in keeping difficult clients happy and in line with your marketing efforts.
- Monthly Updates: If a client has trust issues or is constantly changing things up on you, making it difficult to finish projects or have a clear understanding of their goals and needs, hold monthly update meetings to touch base on how to move forward. As time goes on you’ll build a better relationship and maybe be able to do away with these altogether or at least limit them to 10-minute phone calls once a month.