Beware! of the happy client.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.
— Mike Tyson

 

If I could start every one of my blogs with a Mike Tyson quote I honestly would.

We’ve all been there: you have a goal, a task, a project, anything really that involves you achieving any result of any sort. To best achieve that goal, you need a plan. It can be as simple as ‘get out of bed and make my way to the toaster’, and as complex as ‘devote my life to cancer research through a systematic approach to analysis of the disease and action to lay foundations that one day may lead to a cure’.

The bigger the task, the more likely you’re not going to face it alone. Also the more likely the plan will evolve as it’s set in motion. Also the more likely something will go wrong along the way, to the point it often changes the outcome. Or even makes it unachievable. 

In my case of working in account management, my day job always involves a very necessary additional element to this planning process: a client. 

And they need to be happy.

Seems simple enough? Well, sometimes that is the problem. I recently worked on the major campaign of the year for a client, and like most projects that involve different parties for video production, tech, talent, digital production and social, it was near impossible to keep everyone on the same page, same timeline, with the same goal, and on track at all times.

Long story short, things just kept going wrong. And I was the person to continually break it to the client.

What I found the scariest of the whole process was their reaction every time I had to break the news.

 

“The website needs an additional week to develop.” 

“No worries.”

“We’ve gone live but there’s multiple bugs that tech are working through.” 

“I understand.”

“One of the talent isn’t happy with their representation and we may need to pull them from the campaign.” 

“Go ahead.”

“Unforeseen circumstances have led production to come in over budget.” 

“Just let me know the cost.”

 

Shouldn’t they be freaking out? Shouldn’t they be dragging me over the coals for why this is happening and demanding hard answers? Yes they could see the reason for each problem, and understood the solutions I was presenting, but at least be pissed off about it.

My fear is that if my direct contact is allowing all these small issues to mount up without ever seeming to escalate it to the business on their side, then they are not preparing themselves for the hard questions that they are about to face internally. Even more worrying, is that they’re notthat worried about it because they know there’s an easy out: blame the agency.

In a strange occurrence that I assume never happens ever, none of the problems we faced along the way ever seemed to come back to bite us. And the client has been extremely happy with the results of the campaign. 

However, that’s because the results have been legitimately impressive. I often wonder if the results on audience uptake and engagement had been sub-par, whether all of those problems in the setup of the campaign would have come back to bite us.

I believe ultimately, it depends on the client and your relationship with them. But I’ll say that the better the relationship with the client, the harder you want to push them to challenge you at every stage. It not only makes sure you’re staying on your toes, but gets you ready for the other type who will challenge you on every detail even when things are going smoothly.

If only a middle ground existed.

I’m sure Mike Tyson has a quote about that too.