About a month I ago I wrote about what companies should do to find the right marketing partner. But if you're on the agency or consulting side what should you look at to find the right clients for your business. Sometimes you don't know what you end up with, but there are several things to consider when meeting with and ultimately deciding to take on a client:
- Is your outlook on marketing similar - probably the hardest thing to overcome is any client/agency relationship is a clash of philosophies about what marketing can and should do. An alignment about how marketing fits into the construct of their business and realistic expectations of what marketing should do are very important in order to have clearly defined goals and reasonable sets of outcomes.
- Do they have the commitment you need to make them and you successful - there are some clients out there that want to just throw their problems on you and have them fixed, yet do nothing to help you fix them. A client needs to give you insight into their business and answer your questions plus work with you to find solutions that work for both of you. If you get the sense that they are looking for a scapegoat rather than a partner just walk away.
- Can you actually help - I have several calls a week with potential clients and some of them end up with the "I don't think I'm the right fit" speech. Certainly, I would love the billings and the chance to add another client to the roster, but if I can't help them with the problems they have what's the point? Make sure you have the set of skills and expertise that client needs to get to the next level.
- Can you get along - I believe that in order for any client service relationship to work you have to like at some level the company or people you are dealing with. If you don't it will show in the work and lead to more tension in the long run. I'm not saying you need to have them over on the weekends for cookouts, but we all generally want to work with people we get along with and if you're not excited about the idea of talking to or meeting with them it may not be a great fit.
- Are the resources there to meet the expectations - I think we've all been in situations in marketing where a client wants a million dollar answer but only has a few dollars to spend. That gap generally results in marketing being thrown under the bus. When you present plans and ideas affirm that the client has the means and wherewithal to execute them or at a minimum understand what their limitations are given their constraints. I always loved the quote, "...good, fast or cheap - pick 2." If your client's ideas and goals don't fit in that box send it back.
We all chase for clients and love it when a potential new one calls us and wants to talk. If you want to keep sane and focused on your long-term growth make sure you apply some filter to the selection process. Any time wasted on clients you can't make happy is time you don't have to spend looking for ones that do. No relationship is perfect, but steering away from bad ones early will be better for you now and down the road.