Ever-growing competition across all industries has highlighted the importance and impact of marketing. While interacting with marketing clients can be a stimulating process, it is equally exhausting and tedious to engage with problematic clients. Though it can be tough, sometimes you have to terminate your relationship with a client because of miscommunication, disrespect, or egregious behavior. However, the best marketers never begin a relationship with these clients in the first place. They learn the red flags to avoid during the prospecting process.
It is a great idea to grow your client base and work on more projects, but when your clients disrupt your peace of mind and workflow, it leads to a bad experience for everyone. The time and effort you invest in handling a customer are as important as the revenue you generate from their projects. Wasting time and energy can hinder your growth and be a barrier between you and other healthy relationships that you can develop with potential clients.
Always remember that not every offer that comes your way is worth taking. If you learn the art of filtering clients, you will save yourself from unnecessary engagements and allocate your energy towards more rewarding projects.
Detecting red flags is something that will come with experience. But some red flags are clear, and once you learn to recognize them, you can act accordingly. Listed below are the five red flags that you must avoid in your potential marketing clients.
- A Lack of Professionalism or Work Ethic
You might come across clients with a decent budget but lack basic professional ethics and courtesy. The outer persona of a company might be entirely different from its internal team. When you deal with a client, this in-house company culture directly affects your work. The way your client addresses you, your team, and your work reflects their core values. They might constantly question the relevance of your services or compare you to the agencies they worked with in the past. Insulting and micromanaging tendencies in clients reflect an immature demeanor that hampers productivity.
It often happens that the client holds no consideration for the commitments made on their behalf. They might keep rescheduling meetings or delaying follow-ups. This indicates disorganized behavior and a lack of professionalism. They might instigate conflicts, disagree with briefs, or overlook your suggestions and requests. Their bad attitude will lead to extended timelines, extra labor, and decreased productivity. Above all, it will cost you your creativity, enthusiasm, and sometimes even your sanity.
- Unclear Communication
Marketing is a subjective field requiring detailed research and analysis to brainstorm creative ideas that can lead to desired results. All of this requires active communication with the client. There are instances when the client expects exceptional results but is not available for regular communication. They do not provide relevant information and follow-ups to the marketing agency.
Delayed responses, procrastination, and “professional ghosting” are red flags that you must be sensitive to. If you are not getting timely responses, it will eventually affect your strategy and results. Even though such clients justify their lack of communication, they often won’t hesitate to criticize your hard work.
- Refusal to Accept Standard Policies
We create policies to protect our interests as service providers. If your potential client is not comfortable adhering to your standard policies, you may experience future conflicts with them. Create a policy with terms that clearly state your values, conditions of work, and other details that safeguard your efforts and hard work once the project begins.
If your client finds it difficult to agree to the contract, and there is a lot of back and forth, it proves the possibility that your client might not be the best at working collaboratively with you. Though many clients will want to be the exception to your rules, you have to draw the line somewhere. Through our marketing careers, we’ve come to realize that disagreements with our policies during the prospecting phase usually mean our professional relationship isn’t going to go forward.
- Low Budget and High Expectations
Having a low budget is not always an issue. Often, small-budget projects are easy to acquire and help you build a portfolio with diverse experience. But the problem arises when a client’s expectations surpass the scope of the budget.
The client may request additional services which were not a part of your initial contract. Some companies with small budgets expect unrealistic results. These clients often get too involved with the process and constantly interfere with your work. This scenario can hinder your creative freedom. It might also create unhealthy pressure that hinders your relationship with the client. You must make sure that the client is fair, and avoid working with a client that will squeeze you on the budget and take up all of your time.
- Too Many Points of Contact
You may encounter projects when you will deal with larger companies. They also might have disorganized team members that lack internal coordination and will not hesitate to reach out to you individually. You might have to explain the same concept and provide a follow-up to every individual from the company who contacts you separately. Their team members might also give you separate contradictory inputs that create unclear expectations.
We always tell our clients that we want ONE point of contact (POC) from their team, period. This has saved us so many headaches through the years.
Sometimes, it’s essential to have the opinions of the entire team. But they should come through the POC, not through multiple channels.
Constant interruptions, follow-ups, inputs, and updates from different people at different stages of the project only set us back. Instead, communication should be orderly, streamlined, unified, and directed at the right person.
The red flags discussed above act as guidelines that will save you from getting caught up with clients who are not worth your time. Marketing is a job that requires a passionate mind and a dedicated work structure. It’s easy when you find great clients, but it becomes more difficult when you deal with clients that add to the complexities of the job.
Further Reading: Top 5 Free Tools for Outbound Prospecting