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Client Profiling: Top of the To-Do List

Understanding a client’s personality makes for a more productive process, no matter what the goals and expectations

It’s all about us, isn’t it? We take endless quizzes and surveys, trying to figure out our ‘type’ – A or B personality, introvert/extrovert, hopeless romantic, cynic, do-it-yourselfer, whatever. 

The same profiling can help streamline the planning process if clients could also be categorized as a ‘type.’ Procrastinator? DIY-er? Bargain shopper? They come in all shapes, sizes, and idiosyncracies, but there are a few basic client types:

The Non-Planner (aka The Last-Minute Marketer)
Who they are: They need to promote a new product or their brand, but they have no idea where to start – so they don’t – until their deadline is upon them. Oh, and they don’t have a budget, either

The Non-Planner (aka The Last-Minute Marketer)
Who they are: They need to promote a new product or their brand, but they have no idea where to start – so they don’t – until their deadline is upon them. Oh, and they don’t have a budget, either.
Marketing savvy: Zip. They’ll be the first to admit they don’t understand most of what folks at the conference table are talking about….but they’re okay with that.
What they need: The first step would be to get them to admit they need professional help (er, from a marketing/promotions company, not a shrink), decide their budget and a rough idea of their goals: do they want to kick start web traffic? Create buzz for a new product? Then, let the experts take over.

The Do-It-Yourselfer
Who they are: They change their own oil, cut their own hair – and they’re proud of the fact that they can do a pretty decent job ‘designing’ an ad in Publisher.
Marketing savvy: Just enough to be dangerous. Singing in the shower doesn’t make anyone Sinatra, and knowing how to log into Constant Contact doesn’t make them a marketer.
What they need: Accept their role as client. Avoid cutting corners and costs at the expense of quality results (and their reputation as a professional) and learn to let the marketing pros do the heavy lifting. That’s what they’re paid for.

The Copy-Cat
Who they are: They’re on the hunt, looking for the next great idea. Doesn’t matter that it’s not theirs, or that they didn’t pay for it. They also believe that good (read: cool, awesome, viral) marketing strategies are one-size-fits-all and if they work for one company, this client is convinced lightning will strike twice.
Marketing savvy: They know enough to know they need help – but they don’t want to pay for it. Steak on a hamburg budget, that’s them. They have no problem emailing their nephew, the graphic design major, and offering him $10 to come up with a concept based on the idea they just heard in a preliminary meeting with REAL marketers.
What they need: Being honest in their dealings with that agency, and working with them on a reasonable budget that allows them to take their great idea and make it work. And that nephew? Well, pocket that 10 bucks.

The Shopaholics
Who they are: They believe every vendor/agency is interchangeable, so they constantly shop around and have no loyalty to any one partner. So much for consistent anything when it comes to their brand.
Marketing savvy: Not much. Relationships mean nothing. It’s all about the best price, not creativity or value, so with calculator in hand, they’ll pit one firm against another, approaching every project as if it’s a commodity purchase. Smell smoke? Those are the constantly burning bridges.
What they need: To commit. Thanks to social media (Are Facebook friends really friends?), it’s easy to hide behind technology, ask for stuff on spec (read: free), and wander off when they don’t get what they want, how they want, when they want. 

The Come-Back-Anytime
Who they are: They understand that you get what you pay for, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and saving a nickle at the expense of service, quality and results is short sited and counterproductive in the end. They enjoy working with folks who know their business – and theirs!
Marketing savvy: They value a job well done, and understand they’ll get what they pay for, since they’re willing to provide the resources needed.
What they need: A slap on the back and a hearty handshake, for being the client everyone wants. And we mean, EVERYONE.

No matter the client, we at HGX make two promises: More than you expect. Everything you deserve. And thankfully for us, great clients outnumber the other categories by a substantial margin. Still, we think this little exercise underscores the need for any client to look in the mirror and properly identify goals, budget and needs.

Ten minutes spent figuring out what you need and what you can spend saves more than time. It saves everyone a lot of confusion and frustration (yes, angst). How many emails, calls and meetings go nowhere – simply because clients didn’t take the time to figure out their needs and expectations – and communicate them openly and honestly to their agency partners?

Everyone’s goal should be finding a partner, not just a vendor. We should be the creative staff you don’t have in-house, but can’t afford to do without. And that’s the beginning of a lasting, mutually-beneficial relationship and a perfect fit, no matter what your personality profile

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