Have you ever heard of the song from Kenny Rogers called “The Gambler?” The song is about gambling – on the outer surface. However, I believe it may have many deeper messages than what you see at first glance. Here are a few lines that makes me think about client relationships and agencies.
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run”
There are times – especially the lean times – the the advertising/design business – that we take on business just because it is cash flow. It sure is nice to have the cash, but are we really helping or hurting the business?
Pursuing business is both arduous and time consuming. Winning the business can be rewarding and the additional income is always a plus!
However, for the sake of keeping a healthy shop, we sometimes need to learn to walk away from potential new business. Sometimes, we need to know when to RUN! Continuing to pursue mismatched clients can be harmful to the maral as well as the bottom line of our shop.
Here are four signs to be on the lookout for that may let you know when it is time to fold ‘em and run!
- Too specific directions given about layouts, typefaces, colors,size and shape. Another major indicator. This client is going to be a micro-manager of your work. You no longer are the specialist,but the one who just implements what the client sees as the right way.If it works, they will take the credit and explain that you just implemented their ideas. If it doesn’t work, you will get blamed.
- This is their first attempt at working strategically.In other words, they are marketing virgins. These types of prospects are not hard to spot. They will shift their focus and their goals back and forth. They are the type that will ask you to throw as many balls in the air at a time and then see how many you can catch.
- It absolutely has to be done right now.If this happens while you’re pitching the business, do you really think it’s going to get better? Do you really believe that this is the only time this client needs something yesterday? Yes, all clients will need this expediency from time to time, but if they are looking for it at the prospecting stage,before warned!
- There are more than more of the clients’ people than the agency at the first meeting. This is a huge billboard that thereis not one decision maker, but a committee. What this means to you if you pursue the relationship is missed deadlines andchanges in the scope of projects midstream.
If you decide to walk away from a prospect, do so tactfully. While the relationship with this client/contact may not be a fit right now, there is always tomorrow. You never want to burn any bridges – you may choose to cross that bridge someday.
Instead, compliment them for the decisions they have made. Let them know you believe they are currently in good hands and ask if you can check back in at a later date.
Your goal should be to do business with companies and people who want to build quality relationships with you. Those who appreciate your professional advice and creative executions. There are many new business opportunities to seek. Have patience until you find the right prospects with whom you and your agency want to work.
What are your “Run Away” client experiences?