Landing clients is your first (and very doable) challenge. But after that, there are some clients that require more work than others. And some that require a lot more work. Here’s what to do with the clients that don’t want to hold up their end of the bargain. Read on…
Today’s question is from Kwame F., who asks, “I just got a new client who is a chiropractor. I’m glad he wants my help, but it’s almost like he doesn’t want to work with me. I’m writing a brochure for him and he won’t give me any background information about it. I don’t know anything about chiropractic procedures! When I ask him, he just says, ‘Do what you can and then I can fill in any information you’re missing.’”
Most clients understand that if they want good output (copywriting), they need to give you good input (background, objectives, details, etc.).
But there are some clients who don’t get that. It’s almost as if hiring you was the hard part, and now they’ve earned a break.
I affectionately call this “Lazy Client Syndrome.”
Lazy Client Syndrome usually takes one of two forms. The first is what today’s letter writer describes: The client is lazy about giving you input and just wants you to ‘figure it out.’
The second form is the other half of the same coin: The client inundates you with too much information—competitor’s pieces, notes about ideas, websites you should look at, etc.—and expects you to sift through it all to find what you need.
Now, I call this “Lazy Client Syndrome,” but its cause isn’t really laziness. More likely than not, your client is overwhelmed by the whole process of marketing, doesn’t even know where to start, and wants you to take it off their hands.
Your first option for dealing with LCS is to come up with a very detailed list of what information you need and schedule a call with your client to get that from them. (Calls usually work better; it’s very easy for a client to dismiss an email.)
When I say, very detailed I mean don’t ask something broad like, “What happens during a chiropractic appointment?” Break it down and ask, “What’s the first thing you do to examine a patient? Are they usually standing up or lying down? Do they need to disrobe?”
Asking detailed questions often helps to draw your client out and organize their thoughts. Plus, you get what you need to move forward.
Your second option for dealing with LCS is to charge more, pure and simple. If your client is very resistant to giving you the information you need, it’s likely you can find it out somewhere and then make revisions when your client gives you feedback on your draft.
But that research is going to take time—sometimes even more time than it’s going to take to write the piece! And if you’re going to spend time researching, then you’d better be getting paid for that.
If you don’t mind doing the research yourself, then build the cost of this research time into your quote.
Your third option is, of course, to stop taking work from this client. Some clients are just naturally disorganized and resist being guided or cajoled into giving you what you need. Depending on your personality, you may be okay with this—or it may drive you absolutely nuts.
If this kind of client makes you completely crazy, you may find that it’s not worth the stress to even try to make things work.
Client/copywriter relationships are just that: relationships. And not all relationships are going to run smoothly. If Lazy Client Syndrome is like metaphorical nails on a blackboard to your way of doing business, it might be better to let your client find a copywriter who’ll be more willing to work with their style.
Your turn! Have you ever encountered Lazy Client Syndrome before? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!