What Do You Do When Your Client Is a Four-Letter Word?

By now you've heard me and my fellow writers on the Spin talk about bad sales reps and agency folk. But why doesn't anyone ever talk about bad clients? Oh, they're out there and I'm sure you either currently have one or have had one in the past.

Consider this: a client that doesn't pay their bills. This happens all too often. You know the type. When they bring you on board they are accessible and always ready to go to dinners, schmooze with the agency (especially your boss), etc. All of a sudden you get a nasty call from your finance department that the bill isn't paid. The team has been buzzing around like bees on honey, but the client hasn't paid. The agency has to talk to their folks. Your client pretends to know nothing about it. They say it must be a hold up in finance as they pile on the work. If the media bills (to publishers) don't get paid, you get on their list. It's a stressful situation.

Your client is never on time for meetings. The client insists on the team attending a weekly conference call at a specific time. When that day and time rolls around you always assemble your team. You all wait around the phone with pen and paper in hand. After a couple ear-suffering rounds of music on hold you keep stepping out of the room to call your client on your mobile phone. You leave nice message after nice message and wait. The team gets frustrated as they have spent a lot of time compiling data, work, etc. for this meeting. Morale is slowly slipping away and all you can do is wait.



You get treated like a second-class citizen due to the history of the relationship. The client was wooed by every C-level title during the pitch and now thinks they are buddy-buddy with your boss and the CEO. No matter how you make yourself available, you are not their top priority. You spend your time trying to build the relationship and all the while are treated like a hump.

The focus changes... if there even was one in the first place. In almost no time at all your client changes the game plan. Like any good ad pro you roll with the punches and adjust accordingly. You realize that the market is a sliding landscape. However, you also realize that many of these changes are out in left field and could damage their brand. Your stress level increases as you try to think of a way to address the situation. You also consider riding it out. If you do though, there's a huge possibility the campaign will tank and you will be in a sling.

It's Friday at almost 5 p.m. You've busted your tail all week long and all you can do is think about the weekend -- your plans, your life, your loved ones you've neglected because you are working so much. Like clockwork your client calls and says they want to pull together a meeting on Monday and "lots" has to be done by then. You send an e-mail to the entire team while you are on the phone, mark it as urgent, and ask all to reply upon receipt. You hammer down as many notes as you can while trying to remain oh-so accommodating and wish them a good weekend. You know yours will be terrible as you begin to pack up your laptop and think of what the heck you'll tell your spouse because you promised not to work this weekend. Heck, by the time Monday rolls around, your beloved client will most likely blow off the conference call anyhow. However, you know darn well if the work isn't finished impeccably by then, it sure as heck will be the one time the client actually shows up on time.

Oh dear readers, I could go on and on but I have a word count to adhere to. Tell me your horror stories. Post them to the Spin board. Misery loves company so let's start the week off with a laugh, shall we?

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