We all have clients that second-guess everything from the highest-level strategy down to the nittiest of grittiest tactics, that force revision after revision of your web design and copywriting work, and that are never satisfied with your effort or the results you produce.
Be thankful for these clients! It’s wise to embrace them, because they are good for your marketing business.
Usually, the first reaction when a client second-guesses you, tears your creative work apart or questions your ability is to push back, to react defensively. It’s OK to feel that way, because it’s a natural feeling.
But in any kind of business, acting impulsively on your emotions, particularly your negative emotions, leads to trouble. When you take a deep breath and really think about a situation with a difficult client, you may see some big benefits coming your way along with the headaches.
- Maybe there is some validity to the client’s criticisms of your work. Sometimes we work on autopilot without realizing it, and miss important nuances of the client’s business.
- Maybe the underlying problem is not the work itself, but in the way you’re communicating what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
- Maybe the client’s “unreasonable” demands are actually an opportunity to take your capabilities to a higher level.
Put differently, difficult clients push us to take a cold, hard look at the quality of our work. They push us to hone our pitches, client relationship techniques and campaign reports. They push us to broaden and deepen our skills. All of this helps us to win new clients, to win bigger and better clients, and to retain clients for a longer time.
The easiest way for a marketing business to slide into mediocrity is to never challenge itself. A marketing business adept at handling tough clients is the one that grows most dynamically, because it forced itself to become adept — by improving its deliverables, its workflow and its relationship management.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things.” — Sir Winston Churchill