Years ago, I used to work in retail and one of the first things I was taught is that “the customer’s always right.” I never completely went along with this view – probably why I didn’t last in retail long! Jump forward 10+ years to where I’m running my own business, and nothing’s changed, with the exception of “client” taking over from “customer”.
That’s not to say that I don’t hold my clients in high regard – I most certainly do, and will always go over and above the normal “agreement” on a project and help maximize any promotional needs.
However, there also comes a time when you have to draw the line and make a stand – whether it’s client requests, client invoicing or similar. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Clients often want something done yesterday. In this business, that’s understandable – after all, in PR the early bird truly does get the worm. Unfortunately, it can be easier said than done – sometimes you have to hold back and let others jump in first, and then come out with a kick-ass strategy that blows everyone else away.
The point is, if you’re not working on a project immediately for a client, there can often be “complaints” that you’re not giving that client’s needs priority. Turn that around a second, though, to when you invoice your client and it can be a different kettle of fish. All of a sudden, the urgency has gone and your invoice isn’t high up on their priorities.
Now I’ll admit that so far, I’ve been pretty lucky with my clients. Most of mine either pay on time or before an invoice due date – yet I’ve still had a couple of instances where I’ve had to chase up an invoice and resort to the threat of legal action. It’s not something I want to do and I’m sure the client doesn’t really want to go down that route either.
Tip: Clients should show their provider the same courtesy and importance as the provider shows the client’s project.
Another example is when the client wants too much say in a project. Now before I go on, I just want to make it clear that I’m not saying a client should have little or no say in their own project – after all, it’s their product or service you’re promoting so their input is most definitely beneficial overall.
However, there’s a reason that a client has come to you in the first place – your expertise. You’ve obviously stood out amongst your contemporaries for a reason – so your advice and recommendations should count, right?
If you offer 5 media outlets that a client should go with, then you’ve recommended them for a reason – results. You haven’t recommended them for cost-effectiveness or amount of possible traffic your client may get – you’ve recommended them because they’re the best outlets for the particular piece of news your client wants to get out.
This works in other mediums as well – any recommendation you make for a client is based on your expertise in that field. Heck, any recommendation you make to business partners or your boss is based on your expertise in a given field – so why should that expertise and knowledge not be taken advantage of?
Tip: Your expertise and knowledge has been requested for a reason. Advise your client/boss/partner of this (politely) and let them know that if they want the best results, to trust your opinion.
As I said in my intro, I respect my clients and their needs and this post is by no means going against that. Most clients realize that while they may feel they know what’s best for their project, in reality their expertise is in the product or service itself.
When it comes to your part in it – whether it’s promotion, reviewing, selling, whatever – then that’s the time for the client to step back, offer their valuable input where it’s most effective, and leave the rest up to you. Trust me, it’s the way to get results.