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Meet the Killer Clients

By John K. Mackenzie

Originally Posted

John K. Mackenzie creates a monthly Meeting Masters Memo on his Web site, The Writing Works. Today, he looks at Client Personality Profiles -- the good, the bad, the bizarre -- in a practical, witty review of problem personalities producers often run into when they pitch potential clients. The Memo is reprinted here with the author's permission.
  1. The Resolute and the Rigid arrive fortified by the courage of their conventions. They know exactly what they want, even when it's something they should never have. They remain hermetically sealed to remedial suggestions.
    If the client's concept fails, it will be your fault!

  2. Meet, Greet & Eat clients love the attention lavished by suppliers. They schedule visits just before lunch, but they already know who's going to get the job.
    Also collecting multiple estimates to satisfy purchasing.

  3. Brain Bandits want new ideas to shop around. They ask lots of questions, take lots of notes. Much more interested in demos of what you did for others than what you can do for them. Quite common.
    If you suspect this, a polite retreat is advised.

  4. A Crisis Client is the mother load! They've got a real problem, and no time to make the rounds or get competitive bids.
    You should have a clean shot at this one!

  5. Low-Ball Lures want "The History of Mankind" for a buck-and-a-half because, "We have lots of projects coming up, and this will be a great way to get acquainted!"
    If other projects ever do come up, budgets won't.

  6. Telephone Teasers call or email 10 contractors with vague job specs, and inevitably say, "All we need is a rough estimate."
    Your estimate will be flash-frozen in a solid titanium block.

  7. New 'Guy' in Town just started with his/her company (or got a promotion). They assert independence with a blanket rejection of existing suppliers, but then have to play quick catch-up.
    Should produce new business if you're not on the old list.

  8. The Virgin from a conservative, low-profile company that never used an outside producer or planner. Prepared to spend money, until learning what things actually cost. Then react as though they have stumbled into a den of thieves! (And, sometimes they have.)
    Patience and gradual education can pay off.

  9. Uncertain and Insecure would rather stay in the office, but competition drives them out. Have a nasty suspicion they should be doing something, but don't know what.
    Keep it simple, and avoid options overload.

  10. Jack-the-Flipper never uses the same vendor twice. Has horror stories about abuse by other contractors.
    If you take the job, your story will be next.

  11. The 'In-House' Expert often works in corporate communications or sales. Visiting you because recent projects bombed and management is pissed. Needs help and/or ideas.
    Will gladly accept either, and then resent both.

  12. Weekend Wipeouts show up Friday afternoon with an urgent need for (something) by Monday. Have been turned down by others. Opening line: "We had a sudden request from our (department name) for a (whatever)."

  13. The Kickback Crew is alive and swell. Giving out to those who kick in. Paybacks run from five to 10 percent of the gross.

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