Diffuse Client Conflict with the Golden Rule

Diffuse Client Conflict with the Golden Rule

I learned about the golden rule — you know, “Treat people the way you’d like to be treated” — back on the playground when I was a kid. But that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant in my day-to-day interactions with marketing clients.

In fact, it’s probably even more relevant now than when I was pushing other kids on the swings. 

Project managers at 9 Clouds set out to act as partners to our clients. And just like any good partnership, that comes with conflict now and then. This often happens because the project manager is considering the big picture, while the client is more worried about an immediate ROI.

Based on my experience as a project manager, it’s not easy to develop a productive relationship with your marketing clients, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to form a worthwhile partnership.

3 Ways to Diffuse Client Conflict

If you’re struggling to speak the same language as your clients (or your own agency), try these three time-tested project management tips.

1. Set Goals Early, and Keep Them Visible

Part of our onboarding process includes setting goals for clients. It’s our job to find out what the client wants and to make sure those goals drive the work we do.

Setting goals right from the get-go keep our team on the same path as the client. It also gives us a leg to stand on if the client gets sidetracked from their own goals.

When something is proposed that doesn’t seem to move us toward an agreed-upon goal, we have the power to ask, “Is this the right decision?” Ultimately, the client gets to decide, but because we set expectations early on in the relationship, it’s easier to ask those difficult questions.

Keeping our clients’ goals visible is key because it’s a constant reminder of what we’re working toward. We like to put their goals in every monthly report so that we can track our success and show clients their results.

2. Never Lie to a Marketing Client

Think about your personal relationships. You wouldn’t lie to your best friend or partner and expect your relationship to thrive, would you? There’s no difference with your marketing clients.

If something goes wrong, own up to the problem, even if it’s your fault. 

Yup, that’s potentially a big pill to swallow — but if you do something wrong, you’ve got to admit it. It’s called integrity, people.

Clients deserve honesty from your team about what’s happening with their accounts, and (golden rule moment!) if you’re honest with them, they’ll pay you the same respect in return.

3. Overcommunicate

Marketing teams are paid to communicate messages on behalf of a company, but sometimes they fail to communicate well internally. That’s a huge problem.

The solution? Overcommunication.

At 9 Clouds, we try not to make assumptions (and not just because when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me). Assumptions leave room for mistakes.

It’s vital that project managers deliver clear information to clients to keep them informed on the status of their accounts. Depending on the client, that might take the form of daily email updates, weekly calls, or monthly in-person visits.

Whatever the client prefers, we make it happen. The point is that we’re covering all our bases to make sure everyone who needs to know about the client’s marketing strategy knows everything they need to know.

Start a New Partnership

Ultimately, just like on the playground, there are some clients (and some marketing agencies) that just don’t follow the golden rule.

When you can’t come to an agreed-upon definition of success, or when communication is totally broken down, it might be time to call it quits and seek a new partner.

Contact us for a free assessment of your current digital efforts, and we’ll show you opportunities for growth. Even if you don’t decide to work with us, you’ll learn what improvements your business might want to invest in.

Banner image: Donnie Ray Jones