As a former client-side marketing executive, I have engaged hundreds of agencies, designers, developers, search experts, and other digital specialists over the past 20+ years.

Whether the engagement is a multi-million dollar full-service retainer engagement or a basic web redesign project, some actions, attitudes, and assumptions can be major turn-offs to your clients.

Even well-established agencies can be guilty of these common blunders (all of which are real-life occurrences).

“What’s Your Budget?”

Although finding out, in advance, what the client’s cost parameters are, bluntly asking this question very early on in a business relationship positions you as a resource who cares first and foremost about billing. Better to ask the client what the scope of work is and then to respond with, “Normally for a project of that size, our price range is between X and Y. Is that something you can work with?” Clients suspect that if they divulge a budget up-front, that’s what will be spent — up to the penny. Offering alternatives helps establish you as a proactive experts — rather than people just looking to spend someone else’s money.

“We Couldn’t Get to Your Job This Week Because We Had Another Rush Project.”

Every client wants to feel as if he or she is the only one your team cares about. Delays may happen. But simply inform your client as early as you can and agree to revised dates — or figure out how to make up for lost time.

“The Intern [Programmer/Designer/Other Person] Made a Mistake.”

A client hired you because he assumes you will take responsibility for the project. Your employees and freelancers are irrelevant. The buck needs to stop with the client’s contact person. If people made an error on your watch, simply own it and face the consequences. (Explaining what you’ll do to avoid similar mistakes in the future — without being asked — may result in faster forgiveness.)

“When Will You Be Giving Us Copy?”

As a web developer, you may limit your services to graphic design and programming. Unless a client has expressly told you that he has a writer on staff or in mind, don’t assume that website or other communications content will be provided to you. Building your own network of writers and offering to assist with content development adds value to your client relationship.

“Your Current Marketing is Not Good.”

That may well be the truth. But you don’t know if the agency that created it has a close relationship with your client. Rather than trashing competitors’ or predecessors’ work, spend your time and energy showcasing how you can help the client grow his business and attract new customers. Asking a client what he liked or didn’t like about working with other companies can, however, be very helpful as you evolve your own relationship and processes.

Claim Your Listing

Clients look for agencies that deliver great results AND are great to work with. Make sure prospective clients can easily find you — and read glowing reviews about you. Claim your listing on the UpCity site.  It’ll open up a whole new stream of prospects — companies looking for the best in local and national digital savvy.

Nancy A Shenker
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Nancy A. Shenker is a marketing innovator, brand builder, writer, and speaker, with both client- and agency-side experience. Over the course of her 40-year business and marketing career, she has been a C-level marketing executive, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to hundreds of small businesses at all stages. Founder of theONswitch marketing(R), Shenker was formerly a senior executive for major consumer and business brands, including Citibank, MasterCard, and Reed Exhibitions. Shenker has written four books, and publishes a women’s entrepreneur community called sheBOOM, as well as A.I. website Embrace the Machine(R) and travel and lifestyle website BleisureLiving(R). She writes a column for Inc.com called Bots & Bodies, covering the human aspects of technology and speaks about digital marketing, transformation, and women’s career paths at national conferences.