Monday, May 18, 2009

7 Ways To Piss Off A Client

In a recent study by Rain Today, 42% of clients said they were "very satisfied" with their marketing/advertising/PR agency. Only 42%! That means that more than half are not satisfied, and are vulnerable to leaving their agency. Most of the talk about how to survive this recession has focused on gaining new clients, but it is just as important to keep your current clients (and income).

A few years ago, I gave a speech to an AAF regional meeting on "7 Ways To Piss Off A Client". My talk was based on actual quotes from clients on why they had recently fired their agency. Word about the speech spread, and I eventually gave that same talk to over 30 local ad clubs and business organizations. When I read the report referenced above, it reminded me of that speech and a quick review convinced me it is still valid today.

All of these "seven ways" are what I call BGO's (i.e. blinding glimpses of the obvious). But the sad fact is that even though agencies know these actions break down the relationship, many still commit these basic relationship mistakes every day. I could have titled my speech "7 Ways To Keep A Client Happy", but doing everything right doesn't always translate into keeping a client happy and loyal. I gave my audience the assurance that following my advice was guaranteed to upset their client-agency relationship. Here are my key points, followed by actual quotes on why that made them angry enough to look for a new agency supplier.

1. Don't listen.
"Agencies have all the answers. They think they know more about my business than I do. Or worse, they are only thinking about winning awards and not what sells."
2. Miss deadlines without warning the client.
"Agencies will tell you anything to get you to approve a job, but when the pressure's on, they're always late."
3. Be over-budget.
"All agency people are overpaid and under-worked. No wonder they're so careless with my money."
4. Be intractable. Argue about everything.
"Agencies argue about periods versus exclamation points. They try so hard to be right all the time, they lose sight of what they should be doing."
5. Be greedy.
"Agencies think that advertising is the only way to sell products are are always recommending ways to increase their billings, not increase my sales."
6. Don't support your client's products.
"Agencies are whores. They don't really have a commitment to my business."
7. Be preoccupied with new business or other business.
"After the honeymoon, the agency just didn't give me the service they had promised. They never seemed to be there when I called."

Do any of these seven ways sound familiar? If they do, maybe you should re-think your business development strategy.