“Do Not Listen To The Bloke Down The Pub” & 5 Other Steps To Becoming A World Class Customer


Tomorrow I’ll be visiting a customer we’ve worked with for nearly 10 years. In that time his business has gone from start-up to market leader and we’re now experimenting with a variety of new product lines. It’s the dream agency-client relationship and I’d love to say that the success has happened all because of how life changingly, P&L shatteringly brilliant we are, but in truth that’s only half the story. Maybe 60%

You see… this client does everything right. He is the Messi of clients, only with no suggestion of tax fraud. This perfect relationship has been brilliant for us but also for him. There is nothing we wouldn’t do for this beautiful man.

But becoming a Grade A Client isn’t easy. Here are 6 ways you can be exactly that:

  1. The first is to be a little bit awkward – every primary point of contact for an agency should have the capacity to be a pain in the ass when required. Achieving remarkable things is never comfortable, so keep the bastards on their toes and tell them straight when you’re not happy.
  2. BUT, number 2, do not do their job for them – if halfway through a meal in a restaurant you were to walk into the kitchen and start cooking your own desert, you’d be considered a maniac and quite possibly thrown in the back of a police van. Give feedback, share your concerns and by all means spit your dummy out when you need to, but if you find yourself prescribing instructions to your agency, sack them. Immediately. Then either hire an agency you actually trust, or, if you really think you do know best, use freelancers to carry out your specific instructions. You’ll save a tonne of money and have a clear point of accountability for when it all goes wrong.
  3. Provide information quickly – imagine you hired a new marketing person in-house, then gave them nothing to do for the first 2 weeks despite their asking every day. Then imagine in week 3 you called an emergency meeting because timelines weren’t going to be hit for the big project you brought them on board for. This is 90% of projects with agencies, particularly where websites are concerned. Be the exception.
  4. Do not listen to the bloke down the pub – so you’ve spent 3 months researching the agency landscape, speaking to a long list of contenders and finally making a decision about who you’re going to work with and how. Now you’re going to undermine all of that because a stranger wiping the remnants of a 5th Rebellion from his chin tells you that SEO, email and PPC are dead, and that now it’s all about TikTok? Brilliant. Perhaps he could spare you another 5 minutes and write you a new will, once he’s finished installing your kitchen, of course. I should add that the bloke down the pub can also be found mascaraing as Graham in the IT department or your smart-ass brother in law.
  5. Don’t start a project beyond your budget – would you hire a new internal marketing team on PAYE if you were going to run out of cash in 4 months? I know you’ve created a fancy graph that shows everything magically clicking into place at the end of Q1, leaving you with more cash than you could dream of thereafter, but when that doesn’t happen you’re going to be left with one giant lesson and absolutely no resources to do anything with it. Be honest about your budgetary constraints, to yourself and your agency.
  6. Finally, most importantly, pick the right agency in the first place. You know where we are.

See you next time,


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