How to be a good client – a very good client – a damned good client in fact the best client possible.
Some time ago I had to fire a client. It was painfully embarrassing for me but I had to do it. They came to me to ask me to create some new marketing materials for them. The current materials they were using had sold ZERO – not a thing. They knew this because they were also great at measuring their spend on marketing.
So I did all of my usual stuff. I interviewed them about their products. I took notes and wrote pointers. I researched and read everything I could. I jumped on my motorbike and went for a 4-hour ride in the sunshine. I came back to my writer’s room, slept on my small creative bed and made love on that very same bed.
Then I did what I always do – allowed my brain and my creative mind to chew over the best possible campaign for my new client. I always start with imagery in my mind. I then look at the way the buyer thinks, the way the feel, the way the go through the buying process and of course the reasons they buy so as to solve problems they might have. Once that starts to come together I go out and ride my motorbike for a while, come back, sleep, make love and then finally start to write. All the way through this process my client well honestly – hassled me.
They knew nothing about words, had read nothing about direct marketing, knew nothing of John Caples, David Ogilvy or even heroes of mine like Leo Tolstoy. All they knew was what they knew which were creating really great product and books but also creating terrible marketing with their marketing team. They had a tiny, microscopic amount of information about marketing yet not enough to get the sales they wanted.
I wrote the first advert and of course it read nothing like the failed adverts. They hated it.
I wrote the webpages and emails – they hated them.
I wrote a phone script – they hated it. In fact they wanted me to change all of the new materials I had written back to the old materials they had been using you know the materials that had failed them so miserably!
Before I pick up the phone and finally cracked I went for another ride on my motorbike. Came back, had a sleep on my writers bed, made love once more aon that same bed in my writers room and then picked up my phone.
They had paid me $50,000 as an advance. I had created FOUR weeks of work for them. I had been creating, testing and producing marketing materials, ads and copy since 1985 with some astonishing results. They had even come to me from a raving (not raving mad) just a raving fan of mine that had made some really good sales working with me. I picked up the phone and said this.
“Hi it’s Alan can you please confirm your address and bank details?” He told me what I wanted to know so I politely said to him, “please do not contact me again, I am refunding the whole $50,000, this working relationship is over”
He knew why.
Funnily enough, I got an email from this client two years later with a sob story about how they still had no sales from their campaigns and now they are really ready for change in their materials. They asked to work with me.
I gave them three competitors websites because I knew these other guys would allow themselves to be bullied for payments.
You see it takes years to become a scientist like I am.
YES a scientist a direct marketing scientist. A scientist loves to test and test and test and research and discover and refine until finally … he creates something powerful, potent and proven.
- That means I have to read everything direct marketing
- That means I have to write every day
- That means I have to be a student of the human mind
- That means I have to understand the difference between using ,would, could, should in a sentence.
- That also means I need a Harley Davidson to ride and think about words and processes (see picture at the top).
- That means I need to sleep and make love to process thoughts in my secret writers room.
- That means my clients get work that I declare to be works of art not just sales materials.
- I read at least 4 books a week
- I write daily and most days for at least 6-8 hours!
And I have been doing just that since 1985 so I deserve my white coat and stethoscope because I really am a direct marketing scientist that rides a Harley Davidson. So if you want the very best from your Adman, agency, copywriter or consultant here are a few things you need to know.
Once you know these things I promise your results (if they know what they are doing) will go through the roof. By the way when you find a genius Adman – you won’t have to guess – you’ll know – work with him or her and give them the space and freedom they need to create! So like I said here’s some tips you should stick to help you
- What’s the real problem with your sales or business, tell the truth (it could actually be YOU?)
- Will a new Ad man solve your problem or can you find a better way to work with your adman?
- Changing your adman slows down and sets back results. Select the right adman in the first place – don’t worry you’ll know.
- Brief your adman and miss out nothing
- Don’t compete in the creative department after all are you a scientist like him/her or someone with a small bit of knowledge that thinks they are an expert (if so why hire an adman?)
- Love, protect and honor your adman (most creative need nurtured not hassled. Find a good one and shower them with love and gifts when appropriate)
- Don’t ask opinions of office lackeys (what the hell does a tea boy or receptionist know about creative advertising? Don’t offend your adman)
- Make sure the Adman is well paid (Personally I will pay an adman what it takes. You cannot quantify mind-based results. If you pay them £50,000 and they deliver two million in sales … well … get over it and pay them well if they are delivering.
- Have a budget in place. This costs time and money and never free. Don’t expect your adman to create a campaign out of fresh air. Once the budget is in place be honest and tell him. When he asks it’s not a trick question he simply knows then what to work on around that budget.
- Don’t haggle over prices. It’s all priced for a reason. If it is too expensive you are not using the correct adman because good ads are the best return on investment you can possibly ever make.
- Good marketing changes lives first, businesses second!
- Set high standards – do not accept bad work from your adman – push them until its perfect.
- Do your homework. Don’t simply grab one from Google but do your homework and get a good guy.
- Cheap is always your worst option. Understand not all campaigns are winners one out of every ten is a good bench mark!
- Test everything until the results are what you are looking for Act fast – take actions on all suggestions from your adman.
- Tolerate genius – don’t expect your adman to behave like an office drone. Expect a good adman to do everything that annoys you and everything you never expect.
- Be honest at all times even when it’s hard to be honest.
- Give everything you have that the adman needs. Information, research materials, numbers – hold nothing back
- Voice expectations and disappointments but don’t take it personally – this is business. Say what you really don’t want Take advice and don’t fight your adman
Not exactly Moses Ten Commandments but all things that have made my life as an Adman better or worse over the years. I hope this helps you.
I’m heading out on my chopper, coming back, making love, grabbing tens minutes and then scribbling notes for my clients.
I love to love I adore my life
I love my clients even if they don’t love me.
If you need a word scientist … I’m here but don’t wake me too early.
Love and peace
Your resident Iconoclast
Alan Forrest smith