Your Marketing Clients are “The Office” Characters

If you have worked in an agency, you understand that juggling different types of clients can be stressful. All clients have different personalities, needs, strategies, budgets, preferred channels and styles of communication. Struggling to manage all of these clients can take away from your ability to work efficiently and productively, but it shouldn’t. If you treat every client the same, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You know how to make buyer personas…well why not make client personas?

Don’t worry, I did it for you.

Dwight Shrute 

These clients are no-nonsense machines. They mean business, and they have no time for fooling around. This means keeping the Jim-like humor away from them. The Dwights expect exactly what was promised — no surprises or late-game changes.

When working with a Dwight, reporting couldn’t be more important. Everything should be well documented and metrics speak volumes when communicating success. It’s also important to have a well constructed strategy that is easy to digest, because eventually this type of client will want to know the logic behind the campaign. They are interested in all its inner-workings.

Because Dwights are so no-nonsense, they won’t hesitate to let you go if things aren’t moving in the right direction. Although this type of client may seem like a burden, it’s really quite the opposite. Because of their critical and results-driven attitude, they often inspire some of the most prosperous relationships.

To make it work with a Dwight, you’ll have to:

Step it up a notch

Basically, be diligent. It’s the little things that will impress this client the most, so stay detailed and methodical in your approach. Make sure everything has a process and a submittal process to go along with it for the client.

Document, document…and document again

We’ll talk about the best means of communications in a bit, but with this type of client — it is essential to document everything. Take notes about expectations, goals, needs, revisions, or numbers during conversations and meetings.

Unless the client specifies that they would rather meet in person or speak on the phone — I would recommended email or messaging apps like slack. This ensures that everything you discuss with them is on record.

Stay on time

Don’t slack on due-dates or make changes to the agreed-upon schedule without consulting the client. If anything, be early. We all know things inevitably mess up timelines. If you or your team foresee any speed bumps, be clear with this client and have a detailed plan for how to get back on track.

Research it

None of your decisions should be made without the research or data to back them up.

Communication Channels and Techniques

The best means of communication with a Dwight is anything that can be easily tracked down and referenced. Email, slack, even texts if that’s their cup-of-tea. This because:

  1. They are extremely detail oriented
  2. You’ll want to cover your ass.

Your greatest tools with this type of client will provide valuable information. Provide things like:

  1. Graphs
  2. Tables
  3. Spreadsheets
  4. Charts

Give Dwights numbers and data, beginnings and ends — paint a picture with metrics of how you plan to succeed and where things are headed during your relationship.

These are busy and driven individuals. Keep communication short and sweet. And by sweet, I mean facts with no fluff. Include as many details as you can when explaining a project or campaign without distracting from the point.

Also, always seek their approval before moving forward.

These are two-way street clients. They are busy — but hard workers. This means they will want to help you where and when they can to get the best possible outcome. Make sure you know what they need from you and vice-versa.

Pam Beasley

These types of clients are what most agencies dream of. Beasleys thrive on casual relationships. They’re friendly, kind and most likely to be your biggest advocate when working together.

Beasleys are also empathizers. When working together, this can be a strength as well as a weakness. Empathizers are great and all, but they often lack the ability to provide necessary negative critique and feedback. You may have to pry it out of them.

This type of client also values the relationship over everything. Don’t let this get in the way of creating something successful — but also don’t test their faith or loyalty. Keep this partnership going by being transparent with them about what is going on.

To make it work with a Beasley, you should:

Be cognizant of how they are feeling

Agency life can be a stressful one. Hell, marketing life is a high stakes game for everyone involved. Projects and campaigns are highly scrutinized and people’s creativity is often on the chopping block. When giving feedback, revisions or critique,  you may have to use a little finesse to keep from straining the relationship.

Understand what gets them up in the morning

This type of client is different than most. They’re motivated by what they believe in and their expectations revolve around those beliefs.

Establish a relationship outside of the office

This one is invaluable. Grab a beer, share some memes, get to know them on a personal level. Yes, clients are first and foremost business affair. But fostering a connection by getting to know a Beasley outside of a business mold can translate into a successful and pleasant relationship.

Communication Channels and Techniques

Your relationship with a Beasley will be at its best when you make the time to for phone calls or face-to-face communication. Remember, these are empathizers — they will take notice and appreciate the little things that you do for them. Taking time out of your day for a more personal touch goes a long way.

Some of your greatest tools with a Beasley will be:

  • Agendas
  • Meeting notes/minutes
  • Appreciation

Always have the underlying strategy in mind when communicating with this type of client. Beasleys appreciate the big-picture, so make sure that you have their objective in mind when communicating about projects or in meetings.

This type of client doesn’t particularly enjoy tension. Keep things light and positive even if you’re giving feedback or explaining some bad news. They won’t shoot the messenger, but they won’t like the messenger either.

Jim Halpert 

Jims have a tendency to question everything. This a great skill for those of us that love critical thinkers, but it can make for a difficult partnership when they poke holes in your work. Don’t sweat, providing research and solid ideas that are clearly supported will bolster this relationship. Jims are great at their job, but they start to think they are better at your job if you muck it up one too many times.

To be honest, we all kind of wish we were this type of client ourselves. They are extremely dynamic. Jims are both logical and abstract — and have the ability to understand maneuver both. This means you should be prepared to back up your overarching idea with underlying strategies. Most of the time it will be difficult to impress this type of client, but when you do it’s well worth it.

To make it work with a Jim, you need to:

Come prepared

You’re going to have to be on your game with this type of client. Have the inner workings of your strategy down, Jims are critical thinkers and can tell when the ends aren’t even possible by the means.

Keep it about the work

Don’t waste time with this type of client explaining your weekend at the lake. Get to the point.

Ground your approach in research

If you’re going to present a new approach, idea or strategy — you better have one thing to back it up: evidence.

Put your best foot forward

And by foot, we mean your team-member that won’t get flustered or upset by a critical client. Jims can be harsh…like, really harsh. Put someone tough and reliable on the frontline. Come prepared and be ready to answer tough questions with thorough answers.

Ask plenty of questions (but not twice)

This type of client wouldn’t need your help if they hadn’t already tried a few solutions of their own. Get an idea of what they have already tried. A Jim wants a new approach, not the same one done by different people.

Communication Tools and Techniques

Keep the communication about the objectives you are aiming for. It’s a dance.

When it comes to conversations about business, you take the lead and keep things moving forward with ideas supported by evidence and research. When it comes to personal conversations, let them take the lead. Don’t veer a conversation into weekend talk. If a Jim wants to get personal, they’ll do so without you prompting it.

Like we said before, Jims are dynamic. Just because they appreciate research and data, doesn’t mean they want you to spew off metrics. It’s mundane. Talk big picture but be ready to spew off details and facts if needed.

Ask what type of communication channel they prefer. Most Jims will want to speak with you directly rather than over email when it comes to more important matters. This because they are perceptive and can judge the health of a relationship more effectively through personal communication.

Some of your greatest tools with a Jim will be:

  • Great overall strategy
  • Data and research to back it all up
  • The ability to take critique in stride
  • Confidence

Come ready for any and all questions that may come your way. If you’re presenting with a team, prepare everyone thoroughly. Not only should you prep them for the critical questions, but also for the emotional toll that this type of client can have.

Make sure they’re not going to take any criticisms or rejections personally. Jims aren’t mean or offensive people. They simply care a lot about their work and their business — and have likely been burned before. They don’t want to make that mistake again.

Michael Scott

You didn’t think we would write this entire piece without including Michael did you?

Alas we arrive at Mr. Scott.

Michaels are an interesting bunch. They either have the most brilliant and genius ideas, or absolutely absurd ones. Their minds are everywhere and their focus often needs some guidance.

They truly care about their company and their work. They will put a lot of passion into their projects. But, timelines for Michaels are more like suggestions. You may have to create earlier due dates in order to get deliverables when you need them.

To make it work with a Michael, you gotta:

Use but don’t abuse their creativity

Michaels are creative (remember the Willy Wonka idea). Use their ingenuity during the right steps of a project or campaign. Their imagination has its place, but can run rampant if it goes unchecked.

Be weary of deliverables

Thisn’t to say you can never ask this type of client for a finished product. Just don’t put all your eggs in this particular basket. Create realistic and possibly overextended timelines for things you may need.

Know when to corral the conversation

Michaels are lovable and personable, and there’s no lid on it. They can derail an entire meeting without anyone noticing they’re off track. Sometimes it’s your responsibility to corral them back before time gets wasted.

Understand their value

Michaels do possess the ability to create incredible work — but their true value is often difficult to measure. This type of client is great for company culture and can lift the spirits of anyone around them. Their value is easier seen in the improved mood and productivity of those around them.

Communication Tools and Techniques

Michaels are a blast to communicate with. This can be great for your business relationship, but deter from your business objectives. They prefer more personal and casual meetings, like lunch or a happy-hour to discuss their needs. That’s great, but it may be your responsibility to come with a more focused itinerary and direction to get things done.

When discussing projects or campaigns, we cannot stress this enough: Do not be abstract with a Michael.

Seriously, you’ll be amazed to see how far off the beaten path they’ll take something. Provide details, like…as many details as humanly possible about the direction you would like things to go.

Leave the big picture and creative mumbo-jumbo to them. If they do ask for some creativity from you, don’t be surprised if they monopolize it. You’re here to do the tedious stuff. They hate that part. They likely hired you to funnel all of their loose and untamed ideas to create something successful.

Some of your greatest tools with a Michael will be:

  • In-depth details about projects or assignments
  • To-do lists
  • Personable approach
  • Patience

It’s OK to be casual and “chill” with this type of client. In fact, they expect it. They didn’t hire you to be overly formal and professional. They trust your character, so be yourself.

Don’t let the casual aspect of your relationship negatively impact business objectives. Come prepared with necessary details.

Most people assume Michaels are sensitive because of their creative and compassionate nature. But this type of client does really well with criticism and honesty. You’re not going to offend them if you poke holes in their ideas. They have 100 more.