by Allison Otting February 16, 2015

How to Lose a Client in 10 Days

An expert analysis on exactly what not to do

I’ve been here at Disruptive Advertising since its humble beginnings. There have been a lot of triumphs and Instagrammable moments, but there have also been some bitter and harsh mistakes. Every growing company has its mishaps, and we’re lucky that we’ve got a great team that works hard and is always improving.

We hate to see mistakes affect our bottom line, though! Having been involved with almost all of our clients, I have seen what can lead to losing them unnecessarily. While committing these five mistakes may drive any client away in 10 days, avoiding them will drastically increase retention for your marketing company (or any other industry with a book of clients).

So, here’s how to lose a client in 10 days:

1. Never assert your expertise or experience.

Is a client hiring you for your good looks, charm and compliments? It might have influenced the decision, but you’re usually hired for your talent and industry expertise.

I’ve seen client relationships turn sour from an Account Strategist being a yes-man who never pushes back or comes up with ideas. Why does it hurt you to be agreeable and obedient? The client starts to feel like they’d do just as well without you. Your credibility as an expert is gone because you’re solely an order taker. Inspire confidence by showing that you know what you’re talking about!

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Now it is possible to assert yourself TOO much, which brings us to our second common mistake…

2. Ignore your client’s ideas and requests.

It’s important to hear out your clients. They’ll often have industry insights that can really help you build smarter campaigns and landing pages. Asking them questions and presenting their own ideas back to them says that you’re listening and that you’re implementing the best options.

If you’ve worked at an agency, you’ve worked with clients wanting to try ideas you don’t think will work. They might even insist you try them. It can be really tempting to just ignore it or implement if halfheartedly and come back with a “I told you so” later. Unfortunately, they won’t be around long enough for that to happen.

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The best thing you can do is make your recommendations and explain your reasoning fully. Establish yourself as the expert. If they’re set in doing things their way, then do the very best you can—you might find that it works! Keep them updated, and always be humble if you are wrong.

3. Proofreading and testing are completely unnecessary.

At Disruptive we pride ourselves on turning around quality landing pages quickly. There’s a lot of urgency to build everything out so we can get good results as soon as possible. In one case, we sent a landing page over to the client before adequately proofreading it. The result? A few typos and one lost client.

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Was it an overreaction? Probably. Should we have proofread the page before sending it? Definitely.

Testing forms, buttons, CRMs and confirmation pages is essential. When a client catches a mistake before you do, you create a crack in their confidence. You’re lucky if you even get three strikes before they say goodbye.

Make a checklist that you go through before you send a client anything. If it’s not written down somewhere, you’re going to forget it.

4. Deadlines are more of a suggestion.

Even though proofreading and testing are important, there needs to be a sense of urgency. Clients want to know that you’re on top of things, so the worst thing you can do is miss deadlines. It says that they are not a priority and you’re in no particular rush.

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Always set realistic deadlines with your client, because the majority of them will understand if your resources are stretched thin. Set your personal deadline a few days before your “client” deadline. It gives you more time to work if things come up, and it can result in you sending projects over ahead of schedule. Letting them know they’re a priority and exceeding their timeline expectations goes a long way.

5. When the going gets tough, hide.

Things happen, mistakes are made and clients get angry. The worst possible thing you can do is stop communicating. If something is going to be late, tell them well before the deadline. If they send you a frustrated or hostile email, call them up to talk it out. You want your client to feel comfortable saying “I’m not seeing the value in your service” because you’ll be able to fix it and hug it out.

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You’re going to lose a few clients along the way no matter what you do, but everyone can identify where their client relationships are struggling. When you plug those holes you’ll find that you’re working with better clients longer. You’ll find that the clients you do lose will be the ones that weren’t the best fit anyway.

Let us know what you do to lose clients—or, better yet, keep them—in the comments!

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Allison Otting

Allison Otting

Allison was our very first designer, and is our most tenured employee aside from our CEO. She loves improving customers' pages with quality, educated design, as well as building loads of beautiful image ads. She also heads all the design projects for Disruptive's own marketing.\n\nOutside of work hours, you can assume she’s updating her dog's Instagram, watching reality TV with her partner, or streaming her latest video game obsession.

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