Anyone who has had to work with clients knows that after a point of time you start to form opinions about them. This has never been truer than for agencies who deal with brands. The unspoken friction between service provider and client has given way to a series of social media memes about client stereotypes. Every type of client is attributed a set of flaws and with every meme, the belief in these flaws gets reinforced.
Let’s look at some of the common stereotypes that are doing the rounds on social media:
The Millennial Entrepreneur: They want something unconventional, cool and yet relatable, and of course out of the box. The first meeting is great! Three meetings in, things are going south because, “Bro, you’re not getting me!”
The Old CXO: They know exactly what they want and they explain it to you very clearly. They ask a lot of questions so that they fully understand what you suggest but then say no to you without a thought.
The Female Boss: She’s the one who can never make up her mind. She says the logo needs to be red, but then says it has to be a different red. She is late for meetings and always checking her phone when you’re trying to explain something to her.
My Daddy Owns the Company: Kya tumhe patha hai ki main kaun hoon? Rude and arrogant, the boss’s kid is only there to throw his/her weight around and be a bully. Meeting with you is quite literally a joke to them but there’s nothing you can do about it.
Why it’s best not to stereotype
Don’t get carried away with stereotypes that social media has assigned to agency clients. While stereotypes might be based on a grain of truth, they often don’t paint the whole picture. It’s quite possible that you meet a client who fits the stereotype to a T, but it’s also possible that you meet one that couldn’t be further from that image. The reality is that every client is different and that clubbing them together in stereotype boxes is a huge disservice.
Even if you read a meme that stereotypes clients, just for fun, it is very possible that it reinforces biases in your mind. When you go to a meeting, you might form an opinion of the client just by looking at them. The mental image you form is hard to shake and from then on it becomes difficult to be objective when dealing with your client.
What should be done instead?
To form the best relationship with your clients you need to ditch all the stereotypes and enter each new meeting with an open mind. More than that, you need to go in with the intention of building your client up. You want to provide them with the best service possible so that their brand will shine. This is a lot easier to do when you think of your client as building you up too. The new relationship between brands and agencies should be one of collaboration and creating great stuff together.
Clients can work on those behaviours that give rise to stereotypes, for example, asking for changes at the last minute and setting unrealistic deadlines. At the same time, agencies need to stand their ground while empathising with the client. In the end, it is your common goal to produce remarkable results that should form the foundation of a lasting relationship.
Once you really get to know a client, you realise that everyone is unique. You will meet those that haven’t got a clue, and you will meet those who are amazing at their job. What they look like, their age, gender, or dad’s biodata will have no influence on their role as your client. And always remember, they pay your bills!