These days, all you hear about is how important it is to have a robust online presence. Unfortunately, many small business owners only realize the importance of investing in digital marketing once it’s too late. Couple that with demanding clients with unrealistic expectations, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
BlakSheep Creative has had its fair share of challenging clients. They like to call them “clientzillas.”
You know the type: they’re demanding, high maintenance, and never happy with the results.
We sat down with Clint L. Sanchez, owner and creative director of BlakSheep Creative, to get his take on working with clientzillas and how he deals with them.
Here’s what he had to say:
“The first thing you have to understand is that most clientzillas are actually just misunderstood,” said Sanchez. “They’re usually small business owners who are new to the world of digital marketing, and they have no idea what to expect.”
“They’re also usually under a lot of stress,” he continued. “They’re worried about their business, their employees, and their bottom line. And when you couple that with the fact that they’re new to digital marketing, it’s no wonder they can be a bit… challenging.”
So how does Sanchez deal with clientzillas?
“The key is to remember that they’re coming from a place of misunderstanding,” he said. “They don’t mean to be demanding or high maintenance. They’re just worried and unsure of what to expect.”
“I like to think of myself as a digital marketing coach,” Sanchez continued. “My job is to help them understand the process and what they can realistically expect from it. Once they have a better understanding, they’re usually a lot more relaxed and open to what we have to say.”
How can agencies spot and avoid working with them in the first place?
“The best way to avoid working with a clientzilla is to screen your potential clients before you take them on,” Sanchez said. “Make sure you have a candid conversation about their expectations and what they’re looking to get out of the relationship.”
“If they’re not willing to be open and honest about their expectations, then it’s probably not going to be a good fit,” he continued. “It’s also important to set realistic expectations from the beginning. If you do that, you’ll avoid a lot of headaches down the road.”
For example, Sanchez said he always tells potential clients that digital marketing is a long-term investment. “I explain to them that it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight,” he said. “It takes time, effort, and commitment to be successful.”
“If they’re not ready to commit to that, then we’re not the right agency for them,” he continued. “It’s better to part ways before we get started than to try to force a square peg into a round hole.”
What are some tips for dealing with clientzillas once you’ve already started working with them?
“The most important thing is to stay calm and keep the lines of communication open,” Sanchez said. “If you can do that, you’ll be surprised at how quickly things can turn around.”
“It’s also important to remember that you’re the expert,” he continued. “They hired you because they trust your judgment and expertise. So if they start to second-guess your decisions, just remind them that you’re the one with the experience.”
Finally, Sanchez said it’s important to be flexible. “Clientzillas often have very specific ideas about what they want,” he said. “But the reality is that digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape. What works today might not work tomorrow. So you must be willing to evolve and change with the times.”
He adds, “Unfortunately, there may be times when it’s best to cut the cord and move on. If a client is constantly demanding and never happy with the results, it might be time to part ways.”
How can agencies successfully manage challenging clients without compromising their own values or standards?
Next, we asked Sanchez how agencies can successfully manage challenging clients without compromising their own values or standards.
“The most important thing is to set boundaries from the beginning,” he said. “Make it clear what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do. Once you’ve established those boundaries, it’s important to stick to them.”
“It can be difficult to stand firm when a client is being demanding,” he continued. “But if you don’t, you’ll only end up enabling their bad behavior.”
Sanchez also recommends setting realistic expectations from the outset. “If you set the bar too high, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment,” he said. “On the other hand, if you set the bar too low, you might not be able to deliver on what you promised.”
“It’s important to find a happy medium,” he continued. “And always remember that it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.”
Finally, Sanchez said it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one in the relationship. “The client-agency relationship is a two-way street,” he said. “If you’re not happy with the way things are going, don’t be afraid to speak up.”
“At the end of the day, the only way to have a successful relationship is to be honest and transparent with each other,” he concluded. “If you can do that, you’ll be able to weather any storm.”
What red flags indicate an agency-client relationship isn’t working out?
“There are a few key indicators that an agency-client relationship might not be working out,” Sanchez said. “First, if the client is constantly changing their mind or going back on their word, that’s a red flag.”
“Second, if the client is never happy with the work you’re doing, no matter how hard you try, that’s another sign that things might not be working out,” he continued. “And finally, if the client is constantly trying to micromanage your work or second-guess your decisions, that’s a surefire sign that it’s time to move on.”
What are some tips for avoiding or managing difficult clients?
“There are a few key things you can do to avoid or manage difficult clients,” Sanchez said. “First, make sure you’re clear about what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do from the outset. This will help you set boundaries and avoid taking on work that you’re not comfortable with.”
For example, he said, if you know you don’t want to work with a particular type of client, ensure you’re explicit about that from the beginning.
“We had a client once that was constantly changing their mind and going back on their word,” Sanchez said. “It was a nightmare to work with them. So once we fired them, we added a component of our workflow that we vet our clients a little bit more carefully.”
“Second, don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re not happy with the way things are going,” he continued. “Remember, you’re not the only one in the relationship. If you’re not happy, chances are the client isn’t either.”
And finally, Sanchez said that agency owners should come to grips with the fact that not every client will be a perfect fit.
“You’re not going to please everyone, no matter how hard you try,” he said. “And that’s OK. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move on.”
Are you a Clientzilla?
If you’ve read this post and realized that you might be a clientzilla, don’t worry – there’s still time to change your ways.
Just remember that the client-agency relationship is a two-way street. If you’re unhappy with how things are going, speak up. And if you’re constantly micromanaging your agency or second-guessing their decisions, you may be a clientzilla.
If, and only if, you’re not a clientzilla and are looking for a digital marketing agency, I suggest you give the team at BlakSheep Creative a look. They’re a full-service agency that specializes in helping small businesses grow. Visit their website to learn more about BlakSheep Creative and how you can get started with them.