Anyone who’s ever worked at an agency knows how difficult it is to manage marketing clients and cater to their individual needs.

Marketing clients come in all different shapes and sizes, with unique personalities, priorities, brand strategies, creative tastes, and budgets.

For this reason, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing clients. In order to properly satisfy each of your clients, you need to cater your approach to their unique needs. Failing to do so could hurt your client retention rates.

Shia LaBeouf!

 In this article you’ll learn:  

  • Client management best practices
  • How to profile your marketing clients
  • How to recognize their personality types
  • How to manage each archetype

We’re going to break down your clients into four general archetypes. Then we’ll help you understand how you can best manage these types of client personalities and provide actionable tips that you can build into your client-management strategy.  

General Marketing Client Best Practices

While every client is unique and needs to be managed differently, below you’ll discover some fundamental best practices that you can apply to all of your marketing clients.

1. Build trust through communication

Trust is the foundation of any personal or business relationship. In order to successfully manage your clients, you need to earn their trust. The easiest and most effective way of building trust with your marketing clients is to communicate frequently and honestly.

The best time to start is during your client onboarding process. It’s easier to build client trust than it is to regain it.

Here are a few simple tips for building client trust through strong communication:

  • Under-promise and over-deliver – If you say you’re going to deliver a social media report next Monday, do it. While it may seem like a no-brainer, it’s easy for comms to slip through the crack. If you think you’re going to fall behind on a project, tell your client as soon as possible and let them know what the new target completion date is.
  • Establish a Service Level Agreement for communications – Having an SLA in place gives clarity to your team on what’s expected from them and helps your clients understand what to expect from your team.
  • Create a standardized project communication system – Many of your client comms will take place on a recurring basis. You can streamline your communication process by baking these recurring touch-points into a system.
  • Deliver all news, not just good news – Honesty is the best policy. If something didn’t work, communicate it. Your clients will appreciate you for it. That being said, make sure to outline what you’ve learned and how you will make it work in the future.

2. Understand your client

Ensure you take the time to get to know your marketing clients on a personal level. The best time to do this is during the client-onboarding process, but you can also find time in regularly-scheduled meetings to chit-chat about their personal lives.

These organic conversations will help you get a better understanding of your clients and how they prefer to be managed.

Some clients might prefer keeping conversations straight to the chase, others might enjoy small-talk, and some might want to get down into the weeds about project details. Ask exploratory questions early on in your relationship before getting knee-deep into a project with them.

Personality basics are quintessential in the agency world. You deal with multiple clients and have numerous touch points throughout the business lifecycle.   Personality comes out naturally in conversation, but don’t be fooled! You might figure out your client when it’s too late and run into serious problems once a project picks up speed. 

Try the following:  

  • Understand their strengths and weaknesses. Ask them or make observations based on your interactions. Work with their assets to get the most out of your partnership.
  • Ask them about their personality type. This will help you grasp who they are on a concrete level. You’ll be able to communicate better and avoid unnecessary conflicts before they arise.
  • Ask them about their pet peeves. It sounds so basic, but knowing these can help you tailor your services to meet your clients’ needs. Pet peeve discussions are always a fun bonding experience 😉!
  • Understand what they like. Have a discussion about the traits, gestures, and business style that they admire. Implementing your findings will score you extra brownie points.

3. Be patient and respectful

Your business exists to help your clients. Don’t lose sight of this when you are dealing with questions or issues that might frustrate you and your team.

Always remain calm, courteous, and professional. Your clients rely on you to be an expert in your field. Respect them by educating them, and by being patient with them throughout their learning process.

An educated client may be less inclined to force their ideas on your team because they understand the system and your role in it.   At the end of the day, be grateful for your clients and lessons learned.

Use every frustrating interaction as a learning lesson to grow as a business partner and person. 

Everything You Need to Know About the 4 Types of Marketing Clients

Marketing Client Type 1: “Lawyers”

Much like lawyers, these clients are orderly, succinct, to the point, and accurate.   They mean business. They don’t like fluff, bells and whistles, surprises, or smoke and mirrors.   

They expect you to know what you’re doing, and report on it to a T. They won’t be impressed with you if you can’t explain the logic of your campaign and answer key questions about it. 

These clients will be quick to fire your agency if they’re not satisfied with your results and actions.  

Common Characteristics:

  • Punctual
  • Orderly and organized
  • Straight to the point
  • Results-oriented
  • Values systems and procedures
  • Task-oriented
  • Detail-driven

Likely Personality Type:

  • Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (ISTJ)
  • Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking Judging (INTJ)
  • Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (ESTJ)

How to Manage Lawyer Clients: Step Up Your Game

  • Be organized. Your marketing campaign plan has to be laid out in advance, documented, and submitted for review before you start anything.   
  • Have a timeline. Reference it! Make sure your client knows about delays that will cause a ripple effect.   
  • Document everything. Have somebody take notes about conversations, details, numbers, wants, needs, etc. during meetings.   
  • Be empirical. Rely on data to make decisions. Present all of your data to them. Base discussions on empirical facts. This helps them understand your campaigns and decision-making procedures.  

How Best to Communicate with Lawyer Clients: Short, Detailed, and Sweet

  • Be straightforward and precise. These are practical, logical, and efficient people. Focus on sharing facts and details with them.
  • Cut to the chase. They value short, detailed, no-frills meetings.   Ask them what they need and expect of you. Be sure to let them know what you need from them.
       
  • Leverage data and results. Demonstrate that you know what you’re doing by presenting data and facts. Share how this could affect the long-term picture.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! These clients are always thinking about the present and the future. They want to know that projects are moving forward and be kept in the loop on what’s happening. Communicate relentlessly and seek client approval along the way.
  • Ensure you’re on the same page. When discussing strategies, make sure to recap the deliverables and expectations from your call. This way, everyone will be on the same page and your client will appreciate the clarity.

Best Assets and Tools to Work with Lawyer Clients:

  • Reports and charts
  • Project management tools
  • Detailed notes

Do Not:

  • Over-promise. They’re guaranteed to call you on it if you under-deliver.
  • Surprise them with last-second changes. They don’t respond well to surprises (except good ones) and they will call you out on any deviations from the plan.
  • Give them short deadlines. They require time and detailed information to make decisions. Allow them time to analyze your requests.
  • Forget anything. These clients are meticulous. They’ll remember details from conversations you’ve long since forgotten. Make sure to take detailed notes and confirm your clients’ expectations.
  • Be vague. They want to know details down to granular level. They also want to understand how your efforts will impact their brand long-term. Don’t just tell them what you’re going to do. Tell them what results they can expect.
  • Get personal. Lawyer clients are time-oriented folks who want to focus on what’s at stake in business, not your personal life.

This Client Excels At: Being Reliable

You can depend on this client. They are reasonable and easy to work with so long as you meet their needs.   If you ask something of them they will get it done right away. You can count on them for anything, which makes them excellent business partners.   They are a great resource to use. It’s likely that they know everything about their customers and target market. Focus on getting as much information out of them as possible.  

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Marketing Client Type 2: Artistic Geniuses (AKA Tornadoes)

The iconic artist: a genius who is everywhere at once. This type of marketing client has lots of brilliant projects and ideas on their mind. However, they lack the organization needed to implement them. 

They mean well and are heavily invested in their company. However, they may have bitten off more than they can chew, and often struggle to manage their tasks. 

Their assignments or deliverables will either be late, stray from the initial idea, or be wrong for the campaign you discussed.  

Common Characteristics:

  • Imaginative and creative
  • Fast-paced
  • Social, confident, and gregarious
  • Passionate
  • Disorganized
  • Amazing brainstormers

Likely Personality Type:

  • Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ESFP)
  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving (ENFP)
  • Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ISFP)

How to Manage Artistic Genius Clients: Create structure

  • Be diligent with time management. You can guarantee that your meetings will veer off into different topics with this type of marketing client. Create and agree on meeting topics prior to the meeting. This will help prevent meetings from getting derailed by their creative windstorms and personable nature. Don’t be afraid to reign the discussion in and implement focus.   
  • Draw from their creativity and passion. These folks are very driven. They have a roladex of great ideas waiting to be implemented. Don’t be afraid to use them.   
  • Know where to draw the line. These types of people will continuously throw ideas and constructive criticism at you. Take what is most valuable, but be selective. If client requests start to pile up outside of your project scope, be sure to refer back to your SLA.
  • Don’t rely on them for deliverables. These people tend to have a lot going on. Don’t rely on them. Set timelines that they can actually meet, or get required materials from them completed in during your meetings.

How Best to Communicate with Artistic Genius Clients: Be Organized, Friendly, and Firm

Engage with these types of clients on a human level. Part of their idea of success is having a good relationship with their business partners.

They value exciting, fast-paced, friendly meetings. Make sure that you have a grip on the conversation direction so you can get things done.   

As practical, concrete, and creative people, you should focus on sharing details with them. Stray from abstract ideas.   Show them that you can handle projects on your own. This will prove your value to them. Demonstrate that they don’t need to jump in with their creative genius to make a campaign succeed.  

Best Assets & Tools to Work with Artistic Genius Clients:

  • Lists
  • Project management tools
  • Service level agreements
  • Clear project outlines
  • Friendly conversation

Do Not:

  • Be long-winded. These fast-paced individuals will quickly lose attention unless the topic of discussion changes often.
  • Be overly formal. These clients are personable and like to connect on a light-hearted note.
  • Give abstract or vague info. These people are creative, detail-oriented thinkers and often have so much on the go. They understand concrete and focused ideas.
  • Ask too much of them. Artistic Geniuses keep a full plate of tasks and projects. If you rely on them for project deliverables, your project will likely fall behind.
  • Let them hijack meetings. These clients have no shortage of great ideas and want to implement them all. They also enjoy having personal conversations. It’s very easy for them to go off on tangents during your calls. Don’t let this happen.

This Client Excels At: Being Go-Getter Partners

Artistic and gregarious, you will find these partners to be fun to work with and full of good ideas. They want the best for you and themselves. They’ll work hard to maintain a good relationship.

They’ll also be up for anything! If you ask them to be a part of your marketing campaign it’s unlikely that they’ll say no. If you have a great, fresh idea, chances are they’ll love it!   

Your job is to know how to take their energized spirit and channel it in a productive and organized way.

Looking to streamline your social media and client approval process?

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Marketing Client Type 3: Skeptics

Types of Marketing Clients - Skeptics

Skeptics have a tendency to question everything (especially their colleagues), which makes them solid independent workers, but they can be difficult clients to manage.

Skeptic type clients will likely only work with you because they have to. They’re usually looking for an expert to execute on something they have little knowledge in. These types will not trust in your skills until you’ve proven your worth.

Skeptics will be the first to poke holes in anything you propose unless you support yourself with concrete data.   They might even think that they could do your job better than you (especially if you have a bad dynamic). They are not shy to drop you as an agency if you cannot deliver up to their standards, or at least threaten to

Fear not! While this type of marketing client may not seem ideal, you can build a solid relationship if you manage them with the right approach.  

Common Characteristics:

  • Critical thinkers
  • Skeptical
  • Independent
  • Decisive
  • Organized and task-oriented
  • Leaders
  • No-nonsense

Likely Personality Type:

  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging (ENTJ)
  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (ENTP)
  • Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (INTP)

How to Manage Skeptic Clients: Demonstrate Results

Be straightforward. Cut to the chase because these clients aren’t looking for social niceties and friendly relationships. They hired you to generate results and that’s all they want to see.

Showcase results. This type of marketing client will be quick to lay down the hammer if they don’t see concrete results. More often than not, they are entering into a relationship with you where they don’t trust your worth. Prove them wrong.

Speak to the logic. Skeptics are both concrete and abstract thinkers. They think about the big picture, but rely on the “how” in order to trust it. If you can’t answer critical questions then it’s unlikely that they will trust you and want to work with you.   

Have past results to support future plans. Skeptics believe in one thing and one thing only: evidence. In order for these types to trust you, they need to see that you can prove yourself. Show them all the success you’ve had in the past and explain how you can replicate it.   

Solve problems with and without them. Skeptics have thought of their own approach and solution before they consult an expert. They’re looking for a second opinion. Ask them about their ideas and integrate them into your action plan. This will help you build trust. 

Get their approvals. This type of marketing client is the type that will want to deliver their seal of approval on projects before they go out. Be sure to share your work with them and get client approval on bigger, more impactful projects.

Have your strongest and most positive teammates deal with them. Skeptical clients can be hostile towards weak team members who cannot stand their ground and answer questions thoroughly. Highlight your team’s success and emphasize how tightly you’ve aligned to their business objectives.  

How Best to Communicate with Skeptics: Cut to the Chase

These clients are objective driven. They don’t care to talk about the weather or your pet rabbit.

They want to get down to business in a productive way. Don’t be long-winded in your meetings.   Citing facts will bore these clients and make them think that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Talk big picture and use facts whenever they don’t believe you. Focus on the big picture. Know your campaign inside and out so when they ask a tough question you can answer it without hesitation.

Best Assets & Tools to Work With Skeptics:

  • Patience
  • Preparation
  • Data & Analytics
  • Confidence

Do Not:

  • Go into a single meeting without a game plan. Skeptics can sense weakness and use it as a reason not to trust you. Your team should function like a well-oiled machine in front of them.
  • Take things personally. Skeptics will poke holes in virtually everything. Don’t take it personally. They’re doing it because they care about their company and you might not have earned their trust yet.
  • Drop numbers. The first sign of someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about is vacuous fact dropping. Cite numbers and facts when necessary, but don’t rely on them.
  • Be long-winded. These types of people don’t care for small talk. They want to have concise meetings and will easily lose patience with ramblers.

This Client Excels At: Forcing You to Know Your 💩

Skeptics are intimidating, but they will teach your firm a lot of valuable lessons.   After working with one of these clients successfully you will be able to do anything.

They will test your marketing knowledge and business relationship skills. You’ll quickly learn from the experience.

They’ll force you to know literally everything about their marketing campaign.  You’ll learn how to answer tough questions and leverage empirical evidence to gain client trust, and a lot of future clients will value this.

Want to Save Time Managing Social Posts & Client Approvals?

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Marketing Client Type 4: Empathizers

Types of Marketing Clients - Empathizers

Empathizers are great clients to work with. While they are harder to come across, when you land one you’ll want to do everything in your power to keep them on your client roster!

They want to develop a strong, friendly relationship with you. They’re your biggest cheerleader and want you to feel proud of your campaign. They want a partner, not just an agency. 

Empathizers will do their very best to work with you by providing ideas and words of encouragement. That being said, don’t get lost in their positive feedback. These folks avoid confrontation because they don’t want to hurt others around them. On the flipside, it can be difficult to give them criticism without hurting their feelings.

Given their tendencies for wanting to be liked and hating confrontation, you may never receive constructive feedback from these clients (which isn’t a good thing). 

Empathizers want decisions to be made based on feelings, rather than facts. They will push you to agree with them, which could put your campaign on the line.  Don’t breach their trust or loyalty. This will make them re-evaluate your partnership.  

Common Characteristics:

  • Friendly and personable
  • Empathetic
  • Open-minded
  • Keen organizers and planners
  • Tendency to juggle too much at once
  • Imaginative
  • Strongly driven by morals and feelings

Likely Personality Type:

  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging (ENFJ)
  • Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging (INFJ)

How to Manage Empathizer Clients: Build bonds

Position things in a personal way. Empathizers work hard for causes that they believe in. Frame your projects around things that matter most to them. 

Learn how to give emotionally sensitive feedback. Things can get tense sometimes. Some personalities can handle tension well, but empathizers struggle with this. Give them feedback gently. 

Be highly personable. These clients value strong personal relationships and loyalty. Make sure that your team is able to connect with them on a deeper level. They will get a lot of value out of this type of business relationship. 

Listen to their ideas. Empathizers are naturally good listeners. They also want to be heard too. During meetings be sure to take detailed notes and seriously consider how to implement, at least, some of their ideas. If you disagree with one of their ideas, be gentle and considerate in your approach to letting them know.

Show them how you’re making the world a better place. Nothing is more rewarding to these clients than seeing how they’re making the world a better place. Integrate long-term, positive impact into your proposals and outcomes.  

How Best to Communicate with Empathizers: Affectual, Friendly, and Big Picture-Oriented

These clients are objective driven. In order to get there, they need to have a strong relationship with your team.

Integrate personal aspects into your whole business relationship. These clients will be infinitely grateful to their agency partners who take time outside of work to meet and bond. Unlike Skeptics, Empathizers love to chit-chat on a personal level.

Empathizers love big-picture plans that involve genius strategy, a strong agenda, a good schedule, and apt planning. Come prepared to your meetings. Focus on outcomes and how they are benefiting the cause that your client believes in.  

Avoid conflict, don’t be harsh, and remain positive. You’ll be able to get through to your client with difficult news, criticism, and team goals much easier this way.

Best Assets & Tools to Work with Empathizers:

  • Meeting minutes
  • Gratitude
  • Personal bonds
  • Agendas

Do Not:

  • Be short or harsh. Criticism and judgement can be taken the wrong way with these sensitive types. Lay down negative points gently.
  • Disregard their moral compass. They take their personal values very seriously. Disregarding them can destroy their loyalty and make them question your relationship.
  • Allow their moral compass to dictate everything. Morality isn’t always an effective marketing strategy. Don’t allow abstract ideas to dictate your work. Harmoniously balance marketing goals with your clients’ feelings.
  • Allow their lack of criticism to mean that you can’t do your job better. Ask them how you can improve. You’ll need to extract this information out of them because they’re unlikely to tell you how they really feel about the negative stuff.
  • Focus on the small stuff. These people are big-picture thinkers who like to see results in a positive way. Don’t concern them with the granular level of your project.

This Client Excels At: Opening Your Marketing Heart and Mind

Working with empathizers will teach you valuable teamwork and empathy lessons.   They’ll show you how to make your marketing less about numbers and KPIs, and more about intrinsic impact.

Marketing has a tendency to be vanity-metric oriented, and the majority of clients believe in these vanity metrics. For the first time in a long time, you’ll have a client who looks past that and teaches you more about genuine human connection as a long-term benefit. 

Your team will learn a lot about listening, emotional sensitivity, and how to give feedback in a productive way.

Wrap-up

Knowing how to manage the different types of clients doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and energy to learn how to understand different personality types.

On top of that, learning how to manage each personality differently is a constant process.   Dealing with different types of personalities is a huge part of working in an agency. Before you master it, you truly need to understand how to build client trust, and communication underlies this journey.   T

his is a learning process! Take it one step at a time, take notes, and be sure to collect client feedback along the way. 

Which clients do you run into most frequently? How do you manage them? Share your stories with us at marketing@heyorca.com!  


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