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How to Handle Client Requests that Defeat Their Marketing Goals March 3, 2020

Persuasive skills come in handy when clients request design elements that work against their goals. When explaining alternative options, some clients will immediately see your point of view, but others won’t. When clients are emotionally attached to their ideas, persuasive skills aren’t enough.

When you can’t talk a client out of a bad idea, there’s a high probability you’ll get blamed for the poor results. While you can’t control what your clients

Educate your clients

When you’re the developer, it’s not your client’s job to understand how everything works. They’ve hired you to get the job done and that’s all they care about. However, when a client insists on a design element that defeats their goals – goals they’ve hired you to help achieve – you need to educate them.

Remember that clients don’t have the expertise to know when a request will work against them. They can’t see the big picture and whatever drives them to make the request is based on a misunderstanding. For example, it’s common for clients to request a designer to remove the watermark from stock photos to avoid paying for them. Sometimes clients ask designers to copy and paste content and images from competitors without taking copyright law seriously.

Other requests might include creating content that search engines won’t rank very well, or content that uses keyword stuffing. Chances are, if a client makes these kinds of requests, it’s because they saw something similar on a competitor’s site and assumed they should do the same.

Have references and resources on hand

Be prepared with facts, statistics, and expert opinions to help your clients understand how their idea works against their goals. Share only the bare minimum necessary to support your position. For example, when a client wants you to use the same keyword 20 times on the same page, be ready to show them articles from top SEO authorities who explain why that’s a bad idea.

If you’re performing email marketing services for your client and they request black hat tactics, refer them to thorough guides like this online marketing ebook published by Look for content that applies specifically to your client’s situation. For instance, the ebook linked above has a section on email marketing that addresses regulations concerning spam filters and the problem with the “quantity over quality” mindset. If your client is averse to playing by the rules, schedule a video conferencing session where you can read the article and show the client what you’re talking about.

Avoid debate-style communication

No matter how many debates you won in high school, that style of communication won’t work with clients. Clients aren’t looking for the most logical, practical answer. They’re looking for ways to get exactly what they want, even if what they want doesn’t work. You have to burst their bubble gently.

Before bursting a client’s bubble, be ready with an alternative solution to offer. Some clients will be more receptive to your ideas when they see you’ve gone out of your way to find a different solution.

Be ready to clarify over and over again

When communicating an idea to a client, you need to be aware of how they’re perceiving you and your message. This will help you clarify your points. If a client perceives you as saying something different, it’s your responsibility to clarify. Often, you’ll need to clarify over and over again until the client understands.

Clients have two major barriers to understanding designers: a lack of industry perspective and attachment to their ideas. You have to figure out how to speak through these barriers without invalidating your client’s ideas.

That sounds impossible. However, if a client’s idea isn’t workable, you need to validate their idea while gently bursting their bubble at the same time. Once you get a client to see how their idea is either impractical or self-defeating, their only option will be to let go of that idea.

For example, say a client wants to use Mailchimp as a CRM, but wants you to program functionality only possible with higher quality applications like Infusionsoft. You have two choices: convince your client to switch software, or settle for less functionality. By explaining the limitations of Mailchimp, your client will have no choice but to settle or switch.

Be amenable

Last but not least, if there’s any way you can implement a client’s request without sacrificing too much, do it. Sometimes that means creating a splash page with flash animation, but you have to pick your battles.

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