How to Treat a Client

Over the holidays, I relocated my office a few doors down the hallway in order to accommodate some staff changes. While cleaning out a bookcase, I came across a 1991 edition of Courier, the in-house newsletter for Ogilvy & Mather Direct. I had saved it because it was chock full of great tips on Client Service and reminded me of how much I had learned during my days at OMD.

Over the holidays, I relocated my office a few doors down the hallway in order to accommodate some staff changes. While cleaning out a bookcase, I came across a 1991 edition of Courier, the in-house newsletter for Ogilvy & Mather Direct. I had saved it because it was chock full of great tips on Client Service and reminded me of how much I had learned during my days at OMD.

As I reread the front page article, it struck me that the 20 pithy tips in How to Treat a Client, penned by the late David Ogilvy, had stayed with me throughout my career—and, that I espouse them as my own. Given we’ve just entered a new year and there’s always lots of great advice being thrown around, I thought I’d reprint them here as a reminder of how great agencies truly operate. And they are as relevant today as they were 24 years ago…

  1. Never submit an ad unless you honestly think it is good.
  2. Tell Clients what you would do if you were in their shoes.
  3. Always put your Client’s interests above the agency’s.
  4. Never tell a Client a lie.
  5. When you make a serious mistake, tell your Client before he (or she) hears it from somebody else.
  6. Ask your Client for their opinions, and listen attentively to what they say.
  7. Never get between a Client and the footlights. Give her (or her) the credit for our success.
  8. Never miss a due date, even if it means working nights and weekends.
  9. Never get involved in the politics in the Client’s office.
  10. Never leak the Client’s secrets.
  11. When your Client makes a mistake, rush to the rescue.
  12. Know more about the Client’s business than he (or she) does.
  13. Invent new ways to help your Clients grow their business—above and beyond the call of duty.
  14. If you think a Client is a dope, conceal your opinion.
  15. Never use a product which is manufactured by one of the Client’s competitors.
  16. Make friends with your Clients, but never grovel. For example, never thank a Client for coming to a meeting.
  17. Never give a job to anyone in a Client’s family. They are impossible to fire.
  18. Expose your Clients to other people in the agency, in case you are hit by a taxi.
  19. Never argue with Clients about charges. Leave it to somebody in our Treasurer’s department.
  20. If you think you are a bad fit on an account, tell your boss. He can then assign it to someone else.

If you behave like this, you will win the gratitude and respect of your Clients—and of the agency.

Thank you, David. Truer words have never been spoken.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

One thought on “How to Treat a Client”

  1. Thanks Carolyn. Great reminders for everyone. Having never read this, I found I practice most of these; will look to adopt the other. But why wouldn’t you thank a client (#16) for coming to or for participating in a meeting. Would Mr. Ogilvy have said that its expected? Of the 20 its the only one I question. Please advise your thoughts.

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