Me: I'm sorry, but it just doesn't work that way.
Client: Sure it does, I checked on the Internet!
Me: (Googles in front of him and the first result clearly confirms what I was saying)
Client: We don't have the same Internet.
Not my client from hell, but somebody’s. I overheard the following on a public bus. The young woman behind me made a long and loud phone call, thus the one-sided conversation.
Client: Hey, I have a job for you!
Client: I need a flyer with our team and some of our opponents on it, it needs to show that there’s an important match in three weeks.
Client: We have 800 photos on our website. Just choose the best ones of our players and any of our opponents.
Client: I’m sure they are fine with it, it’s free advertising for them. But make them look weak. Our team needs to look powerful and dynamic. And the match has to look exciting! You are the designer, you’ll know what to do.
Client: As your reward you can also be on the flyer! You can look as important as the players!
Client: It doesn’t matter that you don’t wear a jersey, you are the designer! You can edit the flyer in a way that your clothes don’t show and you’ll look like part of the team.
Client: I don’t understand, what do you mean?
Client: I can pay you with a massage. *suggestively, suddenly not as loud* I can massage your neck, your back, your legs. We’ll see.
Client: Pay you money?
Client: …Yes, I do like my salary. But that’s completely different!
Client: Yes, I understand. But this is an opportunity, you should be happy! This is the perfect chance for you to be creative! Carte blanche, you can fill the whole space without any restrictions. I’m absolutely certain everyone will agree with whatever you design!
Client: …Why are you so mean?
She exited the bus, still on the phone, by then a bit more desperate. I truly hope the person on the other side hung up on her soon after.
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Me: Here is our roadmap for your SEO campaign. It includes milestones, deliverables, and desired outcomes.
Client: It’s just not detailed enough, I need detail, a few dot points won’t do.
Me: Well the roadmap does show all of the process and milestones along with descriptions for each step.
Client: Simple dot-points won’t do. I need you to copy what my last SEO specialist did.
Client then sent an excel sheet with short descriptions of each task. It was basically all dot points, except it included steps like this:
Step 1: Put username into WordPress.
Step 2: Put password into WordPress.
Client: You see? I understood what she was doing because I had a level of detail you aren’t providing me.
I then go and write a thousand words off the top of my head about each step in the process, how we do it and what it means for her and the campaign.
Client: Thanks, that is better but still not the level detail a person like me needs. Can you take (old SEO manager)’s list and just outline what is included with you and what isn’t?
Me: Sure I can do that, but honestly there is a lot of detail in there that are not necessary and realistically don’t have any benefit to the campaign or your business. It's adding time to my task list, and honestly, to yours.
Client: Oh, I'm not going to read it. I just want that level of detail in the future in case I do.
Me: Going forward, I would like to have all rates documented formally on a contract so that the terms are clear. Fees are 50% upfront and 50% upon completion of the project. All of this will be outlined in the contract that I will provide.
Client: If you require a signature on a contract that would be a problem as I have been working on the honor system very successfully for many years. I have done hundreds of thousands of dollars of business without contracts, and if my experience if you need a contract with someone you probably should NOT work them because they won’t be trustworthy.
Client: It’s a matter of principles more than anything for me.
…I’ve been waiting for payment from this client for 3 months.
I'm a marketer and I also have a finance business with a partner. He referred me to a client who wants to do Facebook ads for his business and get leads.
Me: Based on what you've told me, I would recommend Google MyBusiness, a website made for conversions, and Google Ads.
Client: No... I want Facebook ads with phrases that will lure people into buying my product.
Me: That might work for lower-cost products, but you're selling a $5K item.
Client: This is what I want.
I reluctantly accepted and created him a business name and logo with multiple examples. I studied his competitors and made an ad campaign that worked for his request and my professional acumen. I sent everything to him for review and told him that once he approved, we would be ready to launch.
The next day:
Client: Hey, I finally decided to cancel the project. Sorry.
Me: That's fine. Here is the bill for the services, for which you can pay 60% now and 40% when we launch the ads. I’ll give you this leeway because I want to launch the ads and we can probably do it successfully.
Client: I don’t want to pay for this! You took images off Google and found text which won’t work and I don’t want to do the project anymore.
I pushed back but quickly gave up when I realized it was worth more to me not to talk to him anymore.
...Except my business partner who referred him to me kept him on as a client for that business. He came into the office one day to talk to my partner. He saw me and looked quite angry. I overheard him talking to my partner:
Client: You shouldn't work with that guy. He's a total scammer. He did a bunch of work for me and got mad when I didn't pay him.
No, you didn't read that wrong.
Moral of the story: never, ever ignore the red flags. Even when it's your partner who refers you a client.
I have been working on a children’s book with an author who is not a very good writer. It’s about a kid who loves his toothbrush.
Client: Could you make the toothbrush floppy or strange for a kid to like?
Me: I’m pretty sure it’d be strange for any kid to really like a toothbrush.
Client: I want it to be floppy.