Saturday, February 5, 2011

Three Mistakes Not to Make with Clients

When doing client work, it can be fraught with a difficult push-pull power relationship; who is really in charge? When a client pays for services, it may seem like they get to call the shots. Yet it's your company and expertise they rely on. But think about it for a moment. All companies have to answer to someone. Big companies have to answer to their Board of Directors and customers. So, power is not absolute no matter who you are and where you work. In our business I see people makes mistakes in how they interact with clients and what they push back onto a client when, in fact, it's their responsibility even though it might appear that maybe it's not. If you work in a marketing and PR or even publishing group, avoid these common pitfalls:

It's-not-my job syndrome. This is the mistaken belief that you don't have to provide a client service because you don't believe it's part of your job. Here would be another example. I offer to provide a press release as part of my services. Instead of asking you for background material to write your release, I actually ask you to write a draft and give it back to me. That act is not the right approach. The client has hired you to write the release. You write the release, period. You do not ask the client to write the release for you and then you supply a few edits. That is not good customer service -- and, in fact, that is a cop-out. Client paid X hours for you to write it not them.

Mistakes, mistakes too many mistakes to count. Never ever turn over an incomplete draft of anything to a client. An early draft of something like a newsletter or blog post or press release with one small edit is fine; but turning over a draft riddled in mistakes and errors always looks bad. You are in charge of your product to the point where you want to make it look professional. Your client is sure to be turned off if you expose them to a draft that appears you frankly don't know what you're doing.

The business of details count. Glossying over something and only looking to finish it isn't good. Make sure you are always detail-oriented. Anything less than that looks sloppy or incomplete. In any project big or small, it's the attention to details that impress. People are not impressed when you skip over small things to leap to the finish line. Always turn over your very best effort to your clients whether it's the first or final draft -- especially if it's a printed piece. And here is my joke once something is printed: if it was wrong yesterday it's still wrong today.

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