The cost of winning the wrong type of client

I have wanted to write about the consequence of taking on the wrong kind of clients for a while because it’s something I see causing problems for agencies time and time again.

What prompted me to write this now is because last week I sat with a client and worked through their pain of having to invest WAY too much time dealing with the issues and grief having wrong type of client on their books.

We all want full order books. I get it. We all have bills to pay and mouths to feed, and we, the owners, are the last to be fed. So I understand the practical need of filling our capacity and avoiding cash flow dips. However, when we have the wrong types of client on our books, we store up several problems for ourselves and our team:

  • The wrong kind of client is hard for us to manage, since they are not in the core ‘sweet spot’ of our expertise or what we do
  • They don’t really appreciate the VALUE that we are bringing them and may well evaluate us based on the wrong metrics (who was cheapest or who was fastest, for example)
  • They are super demanding (because of points 1 & 2 above)

OK so if we can all agree it’s not ideal having the wrong kind of client on our books, how do we find the right client? (I know that’s your next question!).

Well first off, you have to know who the right type of client is. That means:

  • Being really clear about your niche (and a hint here; the more niched the better because it becomes much easier to define and reach your ideal target client)
  • If you are clear then it’s easier to define your customer personas or customer avatars
  • And if you can pinpoint your target customer then it’s easier to produce sales and marketing messages that resonate with them

So, if we have worked out who our ideal target client is, we now can start to build sales and marketing messages that resonate with them and also ‘hang out’ in the places they frequent. But we need the time and space to work on our sales and marketing. However, if we are super busy (over)servicing the wrong type of clients we neither have the time nor the energy to go out and find the right clients.

Every way you cut this, having the wrong clients on your books is really damaging.

One thing that really resonated with me last week when I was discussing this with my client (who is the right type of client FOR ME even if they have been currently taking on the wrong kind of client FOR THEM!) was how TIRED and FED-UP they were. I had to remind them that when we run our own business, we should be there to enjoy the journey, despite the many ups and downs we need to navigate. They were just tired and questioning WHY? We worked on a specific plan to change this and I hope they felt somewhat better and back in control when they left the session with me.

I know this is a big topic and one almost everyone is interested in (including me!) it’s something we discuss in our group and something I tackle in the group content.

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