In praise of great clients

client-i-love-you STRAIGHT

Most clients don’t tend to read advertising blogs and that’s probably a good thing because it would be hard for them to not be offended by the frequent and barely disguised bitching about bad clients. Adland are terribly guilty of villanising their clients and framing the creative process as a battle between the illogical demands of their paymasters and their desire to make outstanding work. And that’s probably because sometimes that’s a little bit how it feels.

But what is not talked about enough, to our immense discredit, are all the really great clients that are out there. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of them over the years and a celebration of their virtues is long overdue.

Great clients are always great in their own personal way, but in my experience they share a number of traits:

1. They know their stuff

Invariably the best clients I’ve worked with have been very smart thinkers with an intuitive and learned understanding of how marketing works. This sounds like it should be agiven, but unfortunately it’s not. There are a shocking number of top marketers that haven’t done any homework since they learned about the 4Ps, and the worst of them peddle the type of waffle and jargon that give the discipline it’s bad name with finance directors. (I should add that there are plenty of people agency-side that are guilty of the same).

2. They also know they don’t know everything

Because they know their stuff, the best clients are confident enough in their own abilities to admit when they don’t know the answer. This makes for much more open and honest conversations because no one is worried about losing face.

3. They trust other people

The best clients are empowering, both with the agency and with their own team. They have the humility to recognize that other people may have expertise they don’t and they actively seek out other’s perspectives to add to their own.

4. They’re motivated by the potential to win, not fear of failure

This is a crucial factor in buying genuinely creative ideas. Great clients are almost always ambitious. They want to win awards. They want to upturn the market. And they recognize that limiting risk is limiting reward.

5. They can look at advertising as a marketer, and as a human being

And finally, the best clients can judge creative work well. They’re able to analyse it strategically from the perspective of what they need as a marketer and what they can sell into the business. But they’re also able look at the bigger picture and judge the Ad the way a normal person would. They can tell the difference between the details that will make an actual difference to the effectiveness of the Ad, and the details that are just ticking a box to make people feel better internally. And they go with their instincts when they feel the power of an idea.

These are all the reasons we love the great clients out there – now we just need more of the same, from many more of them, please!

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