Secrets of Turning Advertising Agency Clients into Soft Fluffy Angels

Let’s be really very real here. We all love clients. That goes without saying. They’re great. They pay the bills. Love’m to bits. But… but, between us girls, are your clients mostly ok, or demons* straight from the darkest pits of hell? If you are one of the rare, lucky and non-existent agencies that have only perfect angels* as clients, good for you! Now go away, this post isn’t for you.

If, however, you are awoken at 3:00am by a irate text messages from demons (sorry, “clients”… ok, let’s call them “clemons”), you likely fall into either of the first two categories and you’re probably struggling to find a balance. You likely want to find a way to convert all your clemons into angels, and if not exactly angels, would settle with them being mere humans!

Whether it’s your job to talk directly to clients or not, everyone you answer to is in some way your “client”. So, how do you make your clients become the most angelic figurines in the gift shop?

1) Set expectations before the work begins. Ground rules. If you want to change clemons you gotta have rules.

  • Make it clear to the them how often they can expect to hear from you.
  • What your average response times are if they reach out.
  • The best methods to reach you, and the best “whens” to reach you.
  • The number of meetings to be booked over the project timeline.

Have all this as detailed as you wish, balancing the need to inform them, but not put them to sleep (or scare them away – clemons are spooked easily like that).

2) Walk the walk, talk the talk, and lead by example.When converting clemons to angels it’s best to demonstrate what you want (and don’t make any sudden movements).

  • If you don’t want a clemon to yell or freak out, don’t let them catch you doing it.
  • If you expect your client/team to stay late to meet a deadline, be willing to do the same. Your clemons will take note!
  • Style will only get you so far if you’re utterly lacking substance. Yes, we all like shiny things, especially clemons, but make sure there is something substantive behind all the bling because they get bored easily. You have to back up the bling with the goods.

3) Be as good as your word, only make assurances you can keep. Don’t “over-promise and under deliver” as the saying goes, because doing so will provoke and enrage your clemon.

  • No client can (or should try) to force you to make unrealistic promises, but for some clients, “demanding” might be too tame a term. Work hard to hold your ground, and do not, under any circumstances, overpromise under duress. If you aren’t certain you can meet their deadlines get off the phone! Back away and get back to them when you’ve got your head together.
  • Get respect. Clemons will respect you more for setting limits (honestly). If they learn they can walk all over you, guess what? They will. So show some backbone. 3:00am calls aren’t acceptable. 25 revisions to a comp, not acceptable. 9 times out of 10 you’ll find they will come back to you for more work as you’ll be able to prove your reliability, level-headedness and sensible delivery schedule (I was going to say something about footware but trying to stay on topic here!).

4) Kill them with kindness. It’s an old adage, but for good reason – it works.

  • Care. Get it? Simple. Give a hoot.
  • Nobody is a write-off even if they aren’t a good fit.
  • Be warm and kind. I also find kindness infectious. In a good way.
  • Exude a happy glow. It is tougher to hide under a dark cloud when those around me are making the best of things, keeping their chins up and turning their frowns upside down.
  • Be playful. If you’re having fun, your client won’t have much choice but to come along.

5) Empathize, be patient, sincerely care about their success. People tend to respond to other people, so show your human side.

  • Make client wins (angelic conversions) a part of your company culture and get everyone on board. It should be a service goal to turn grumpy clients into happy ones.
  • Show how you can understand their issues, and how your efforts will help solve their pain.
  • Celebrate your client success! Congratulate them on important wins. They’ll notice and feel the caring vibe.

You’ve got all the tools you need. Now go forth and turn your clemons into happy angels. 

Emma Lauder | fp. Training Consultant

*fp. does not believe in the presence or non-presence of demons or angels and equally respects everyone who does and doesn’t.

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