A few weeks ago, Hubspot made a post about why clients fire PR agencies. Lots of the reasons you thought would be on a list like that showed up:
* Lack of communication
* Lack of results
* Lack of initiative
I get it. Agencies suck sometimes. But you know what, sometimes clients suck, too.
Yeah, I said it. Hey, I didn’t say MY clients suck. Quite the contrary. I couldn’t be luckier to work with the clients I work with right now. It’s a solid bunch (including my Sleep Number clients who have been working with me for almost six years now!). I’m very fortunate.
But the slamming of PR agencies and consultants has got a little tiresome. Not so much because it’s not true (a lot of it is true, to be honest). More so because there hasn’t been a fair-and-balanced discussion. What about clients? Aren’t they equally as difficult to work with in spots?
Look, I’m not hear to slam clients. Again, quite the contrary. I’m here to provide ideas and open up a discussion about how we can work better together. So, here are a few ideas for clients around how they can make a client/consultant partnership work just a bit better:
Put yourself in our shoes
One of the advantages I “sell” clients in working with me is this: I’ve been in your shoes. I worked on the corporate side for years, so I know the pressures clients face. Political pressures. Heat from their boss. Heat from the CEO. Legal breathing down their throat. I understand. I would ask clients to take a moment and put themselves in our shoes for a bit. Stop and think about what our day is like. Juggling competing client deadlines. Managing client (and agency) expectations. Working with internal teams to meet those deadlines. I know, we all have pressures and stress. But, I think putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can be quite healthy once in a while.
Treat us like an employee
Stop laughing–just for a moment. I’m serious here. What’s the one thing all clients/agencies say at the outset of a relationship? We want a true partnership. If that’s true, and you really believe that, why not think of your consultants as employees? As an extension of your team. Obviously, you can’t REALLY treat them like employees, but you can THINK of them the same way. Why does that matter? Because you motivate employees differently. You treat them differently. You give them a different level of respect.
Recognize when we go the extra mile (or 10)
Agency folks are well-known for recognizing clients when they earn and see success. They’ll send flowers, chocolates, lunches. You name it. But, they do it. Every time (OK, not EVERY time, but I’m making a point here!). Sure, it’s usually an attempt to kiss up a bit and make the client feel good about the work together. But, it’s also just recognizing good work from a partner (the client). Why doesn’t the same principal apply the other way around? Why can’t clients recognize when agencies/consultants go the extra mile? Why don’t they extend the same gratitude? In fact, sometimes they do. And you often hear about it (often via social media–I think back to instances where I’ve heard about Todd Defren and SHIFT being rewarded by their clients). Why can’t that happen more often?
Resist the urge to “feel the power”
One thing I’ve noticed about certain clients over the years: They like the power play of being the client. Certain people just like having that “power.” They like being able to hold an agency’s/client’s life in their hands. They like being in control. They like being the boss. That’s all fine. Except for this small fact: Every city is really just a small town (yes, even New York City). Translation: You may end up working for that agency account supervisor you’re berating on the phone each week . Be careful how you wield that power now–it may come back to bite you in the you-know-where some day in the not-so-distant future. Besides, that kind of approach isn’t healthy for a true partnership anyway.
That’s my two cents. Got anything to add agency/consultant friends?