Creating Strong Relationships

Bad Clients are Easy to Find
by Mary-Lynn Bellamy-Willms

Most creative companies have worked with clients that have morphed into something nasty. How does it happen? Are there clues that the client will be a disaster? Are there clues a client will be a dream? The short answer to both questions is yes. There are definitely clues and if you know what you're looking for, you can see the signs almost from the first contact.

Here's a four-point checklist that can help you spot the bad client before you get stuck with them. If you say 'yes' to these, you're in for trouble:

Will this be a bad client? The Four-Point Checklist
  1. The client's brief is unclear and unfocused. Yes____ No____
  2. The client claims they don't know what their budget is, but for some reason, they think you can define one. Yes____ No____
  3. The client asks for free strategy, free creative and cost estimates before they agree to pay you for any of it. Yes____ No____
  4. The client's timeline is ridiculous. Yes____ No____

What if you have a new client and your 'spidey senses' are telling you something is just not right. Here are the clues that things will eventually end poorly. And by poorly, I mean that you won't get paid for all of the time you've spent and in fact, you may even get left empty-handed.

Here are the clues that this relationship will eventually go sour:

So... enough about the bad client behavior. What are the signs that your relationship will succeed?

Here's how to spot a great client. Look for clients who:

Clearly, no one wants bad clients. They end up taking your precious time and energy (and face it, they seem to drain the tank), and almost without fail, they never pay you fairly for the work. They simply don't value what you do.

When it comes right down to it, the difference between a good client and a bad one is respect. And that goes both ways. A good relationship is always rooted in respect for one another's contributions to achieving a goal, and recognition that you are all on the same team and are working together for the greater good.

Inevitably, a good client is worth their weight in gold. Literally. They respect you, pay for the work, and provide good and constructive feedback. So go forth and seek out the good ones and say good-bye to the bad ones. You'll be happier, richer, more fulfilled, and your work will actually be better, too.

This article has been written by FunctionFox CEO and owner of Suburbia Advertising, Mary-Lynn Bellamy-Willms. For more articles and resources, see

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