One of the most beneficial exercises you can do for your business is to go through and identify who are your favorite clients (and why they are), as well as your not-so-favorite clients (and why they are). The idea behind this is that if you know who and why some people make better clients, you can target your marketing to attract more of them. Conversely, in looking at your personae non gratae* clients, you can glean what makes them undesirable and avoid them in the future.
In doing this exercise a few times a year over the last 10+ years I've discovered that the best clients for me are intelligent, passionate experts in their field who are approximately 40-60 in age. Most of these people are in the service industry and run businesses from 1-10 employees.
On the flip side I discovered two specific groups of professionals that typically don't make a good fit for me: chiropractors and realtors. My track record with both professions is not a stellar one.
In my experience in working with 4 different chiropractors, I quickly noted that they all had some strikingly similar characteristics that really made them bad clients for me to work with:
It seems like these guys feel a sense of entitlement. I've found most of them want outstanding service, but they don't want to get involved with the marketing or design process at all. They're too busy to answer emails or take phone calls and when you do get a hold of them, they make it painfully obvious that they're time is so valuable.
I asked one guy who wanted me to design his business card, "What do you like about it?" He said, "My picture is perfect". I replied, "Okay, what exactly would you like me to change about the card?" "Nothing", he said. Finally, I came back with, "So how is it that I can help you today...why are we talking?" On a later project he complained that his picture wasn't big enough on the 4 x 6 postcard even though it was 2-3X larger than his partner's. All 4 of these guys took meticulous care of themselves and in my humble opinion were really pleased at what they saw looking back at them in the mirror. Narcissists.
Chip on the shoulder, bitter
One chiropractor and his wife used to work over in a small town in Italy - where they apparently were the toast of the town. In the U.S. they weren't "feeling the love" and were actually angry at how disloyal and "stupid" their clients were. During a couple of meetings, the chiropractor got visibly upset and kept threatening that he and his wife were just going to, "...close the damn practice, forget about these idiot people and move back to Italy!" All of these guys seem to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder regarding the rest of the medical community and how they were respected (or not) in it. Hmm, might be time to change professions if you despise the people you work with.
Yes, all four guys had a temper. Either towards their clients, the medical community, their wives or with me (only one of them got mad at me in an email).In response to hearing that I was unwilling to just give him my native PSD files, one chiro emailed, "I’m not interested in extracting your DNA for an additional charge. My God, I simply want to keep a cohesive theme in advertising!!!" Wow, I am sure after I dropped this guy other freelancers were lining up to work with him.
Keep in mind these are based on MY experiences, so their not necessarily true with all folks - but I have to be honest with you based on what I've seen and experienced. It's simple - when I hear "chiropractor" from a potential client - I run like heck. From running this exercise I learned to be extremely careful in considering chiropractors. When you sit down and look at your clients, what information can you glean from looking at who's a good client and who's not so good?
PS - Got a type of client that you struggle with a little. Who do you guys like/dislike working with? Drop me a comment or email me!
* Unwelcomed person(s)