Myth #1 - The client is always right.
Your agency exists to do what clients tell you to do. If you do that, success will naturally follow.
Heard this one before? That’s because it’s incredibly common for agencies hoping to grow to take on whatever work will help them up their revenue. But it’s your responsibility to be thoughtful about the clients you take on, and how you interact with them. Acting on your strengths, your relationship with the client, and what they truly need is better than being the “yes” team.
Making clients successful is your top priority.
Doing only what your clients ask for may not make either of you successful in the long run. Consider these scenarios and how you might handle them:
1. Your client’s cousin built their custom, unintuitive, beast of a website.
They ask for a mobile app, convinced it will make them seem “cutting edge” and boost their user base. You can spend weeks developing a killer iOS app—but you know no one will download it.
They didn’t need an app at all. Their site was confusing, clunky, and put mobile users through a complicated series of zooming, scrolling, and clicks to get the information they needed. What they really should’ve asked for was a better user experience and mobile-friendly site, but instead they might blame you for their low adoption rate
2. Your client has a tight budget, so they ask for low-cost hosting.
You know saying yes will mean billing them more in the long run for administrative tasks and fire drills that arise with unreliable, low-cost server setups.
What they really needed was reassurance that they were making smart investments. They weren’t thinking of the long-term costs—just the monthly bill they’d be getting for hosting. You could’ve helped them pick the best hosting and website management options and become their long-term technology partner, but now they’re coming to you when the servers crash.
There’s a fine line between authoritative and imposing. Striking the right tone with clients when you know they’re not asking for what they need can be a challenge, but the payoff is a lasting relationship with a client who knows you have their best interests in mind. These clients can make a huge difference in your career, sending you new business through referrals instead of chalking you up as “someone they tried but it didn’t work out”.
Andy Crestodina, Cofounder, Orbit Media Studios
Clients often request features that have negative return on investment. It happens all the time. Here’s an example: A client called asking to add a rotating image area to their home page. They wanted it to appear just under the slideshow, which is another area of the home page with movement. But data and experience shows that it’s not effective to have two areas of movement on a single page, since they will compete with each other, dividing visitors’ attention. Their logic? “We’re a B2B company so we need to make the homepage less boring.”
This is not a good idea, and the client isn’t right. They’re making decisions based on opinion, rather than evidence and best practices. They aren’t seeing the site through the perspective of visitors and data.
The greatest challenge of the web designer or digital marketer is to educate the client, but do so in a firm yet empathetic way. The purpose of web design and digital marketing is to guide the visitors through a series of pages during which they become more educated and trusting. This is the key to lead generation best practices.
Clients hire you because you have expertise and insights that they do not have.
Tactfully push them in the right direction on decisions you know will benefit them in the long run.
Do this next
Pick one thing you know your client can improve on, and suggest it in your next meeting. Gauge their reception—are they happy you caught something that they didn’t? Are they open to change? If so, think about being more opinionated with your clients. Chances are they’ll be happy to have your input.
MAKE GOOD CHOICES
Help clients choose their hosting with these buyer’s guides to WordPress and Drupal platforms. Choose your version below: