The “perfect” client

Quick Answers
Have you ever had any "consumer products" clients?

Certainly. We’ve marketed a number of “consumer” products; everything from parental-control software to home computers, peripherals, and home-office equipment. And work we’ve produced has reached millions of consumers. However, the majority of our clients market products and services to businesspeople.

Why are so many of your clients B2B?

We like selling to business and industrial buyers. They tend to be more analytical and rational, and appreciate a logical, persuasive story based more on facts, features, and benefits than emotion. That’s not to say emotion is not a factor; it’s just that it’s less important in the final equation than logic.

In addition, we’ve found some of the most intelligent, creative and imaginative people within our clients selling products or services to other businesses. They give us the opportunity to produce highly creative work for their very targeted prospects that would be impractical to execute against much larger and more diverse audiences. Finally, they are businesspeople – as we are – who like our dedication to measurability and accountability, and our use of established processes to deliver results.

Are you interested in adding new clients?

Of course we are – if they are the right types of clients. There is an established hurdle, however: we decided long ago to focus on gaining new clients referred to us by others we know and trust; people who could personally vouch for the prospective client’s integrity, ability and willingness to pay their bills, and demeanor. Very rarely have we had success with a new client who did not come to us through this process – but it does happen.

How can I tell if I’m a Client from Hell?

If you’re even concerned that you might be a Client from Hell, chances are you probably aren’t. True Clients from Hell enjoy being thought of as that. They think it somehow puts everyone on notice that they’re going to have to work a lot harder – and our favorite moronic directive: “work smarter” – than they would for other clients.

However, if you’re still wondering, just take this simple test:

    I’m interested in learning more... This is the stupidest idea I’ve ever seen – did some idiot dream this up? Frankly, I’m amazed you’d waste my time with this junk... I expected better from you...

Still wondering?

The criteria for being a "perfect" client for us are not all that mysterious. In fact, most of what defines a perfect client would also be found in any good business relationship. Here's what we look for, in no particular order:

Have passion about your product or service - We prefer working with people who have a real passion about what they want to promote. It's true not every new product or service will revolutionize the world, but if you can't convince yourself it's worth putting the effort into, you're not going to devote the time or energy required to help us do a good job for you. And the work will suffer. It's easier – and more stimulating – to do work for motivated clients "on a mission"; those who are genuinely excited about the benefits of their products or services. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and infects everyone who works with them. That's the surest way to get truly great work. So don't be bashful with us. Let your passion show.

Honor your commitments - If you give us your word you will do something, then do it, or at least tell us why you can't as quickly as possible. We'd do the same for you. You can always tell us the truth. If one of our bills hasn't been paid because you forgot to turn it in, we understand – these things happen. If you were going to send us something we needed to complete your project and got sidetracked into an all-day meeting – we understand. But if we're waiting for something from you and it doesn't arrive when expected, and you haven't let us know, we will worry needlessly.

If you don't like something, tell us - In fact, tell us right away. The only way we'll work well together over time is if we know what you honestly think. The quicker we know about something, the quicker we can remedy whatever is troubling you. And if there's something you want us to do that we think is a bad idea, we'll tell you, too.

Be the expert on your product or service - Or at least have ready access to the expert on it in your organization. We look to you to verify and take responsibility for the "facts" about your offering; our job is to package and present your facts in a way that convinces people to select and buy your product or service.

Give real deadlines - Please. If you really need it tomorrow, or next Tuesday, or even this afternoon, let us know. We work very quickly and will meet your deadline if at all possible. However, avoid pushing the panic button unnecessarily. If you're not going to be back in your office for three days, for example, you may not really need our stuff on your desk by 10 AM tomorrow.

Be willing to teach us – We're quick learners, but we're not mind readers. You can give us materials to read, set us up to interview someone you designate to help us learn, or provide us with links to visit, among other possibilities. However, doing this will require some effort – and some patience – on your part, as will answering questions we will have along the way. Always remember that we are simply trying to learn all about your product or service and about your company; we see this as essential to doing a good job for you. Yet also please remember that we can never know all the details about your product or service as well as you do; we will need your help to teach us what we need to know.

Nobody is perfect. Still, we can say in all honesty that our very best clients – those who have been with us for years – share all these admirable traits.

They get great work from us, consistently. And they are a pleasure for us to work with, day in and day out. We believe those two points are inexorably linked.