Podcasts and podcasting news from Robyn Tippins.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Client Relations Best Practices

From my Sleepyblogger site:

Click here to listen to the “client relations best practices” podcast or read the transcript below:

Today I’m going to discuss one of the most troublesome client problems that business owners face. Because much of my business is consulting, corporate blog management and writing, my business complaints are specifically different than yours may be, but they are generally the same.


We’ve all been there. You’re owed an invoice that’s a $1000 or more, and you are counting on it to pay some bills. And then, out of nowhere, the client lets you know, usually at the last minute, that they will not be paying the invoice.

Sometimes it’s because business has been hard, and they CANNOT pay it. I’m much more forgiving in instances like this. Of course, while I like to know a little ahead of time, I understand that you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, and if there’s no money at the end of the month, then there’s no way they can pay me.

It’s sad, but it’s understandable.

Then, there’s always the chance the client CHOOSES not to pay your invoice. Now, that’s a different matter altogether. I rarely continue a relationship with someone who decides their last invoice should be forgiven or discounted because their expectations were unrealistic or because they now think the price quoted initially was too high. I’ve even heard of people that decide they want to go a different direction midstream and choose not to pay their consultant, even though they did exactly was was agreed upon.

Unfortunately, these situations are very common when you are a marketing consultant. So, take some advice from someone who’s been in many of these situations over the years, get your retainer upfront. There’s nothing worse than going an entire month paying out for press releases to be written by your staff and distributed (PRWeb often costs as much as $150 per release), paying for ad development, inserts, adsense buys, etc. and then getting an email on the 30th from the client telling you this month’s payment will be delayed or not be coming at all.

Of course, if you’ve done the smart thing, they’ve signed an ironclad contract for fee payment, so if you absolutely have to, you can pursue legal avenues. However, no one really wants to go that route. So, take my advice, and take a page from large PR firms, do not work without receiving your retainer upfront.

I know this is a decision that I have recently made, and I encourage you to give it some thought. Whether it’s a fee for blog consulting or for a full marketing campaign, don’t end up working for free, unless you want to do so.

And, I have to insert this here…. I often DO consult for free, bcause I like it. I love sharing blogging and social netwrokign with a group or even one-on-one for the purre joy of knowing you are assistingin someone. Knowing you are doing something for someone because you want to help is often payment enough.

However, ifyou want me to wrok for free, it will beon my time schedule. I won’t be turning other clients away to assist you immediately. Often I do it immediately anyway, but don’t expect that type of treatment.

What really upsets me is when someone expected free consulting and never intended to pay in the first place, and had their consultant drop everything to travel to them or pay extensive out of pocket expenses with no intention of ever paying them back. That sort of treatment is just mean. And, it usually comes back to bite them in the end.

Next week on the podcast we will talk candidly about some Web 2.0 companies I’ve recently reviewed, because all next week I’ll be focusing on the blog on the social networking sites that are out there are reviewing each one in depth. I hope you’ll join me.


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