By Angela Kambarian, President of Essential Communications (//www.kambarian.com)
How do you deal with an unresponsive client? As you know, an overwhelming majority of account managers and directors encounter this problem, at least every now and then…
Let’s say you have an interesting idea for a marketing campaign, or there is an urgent piece of information that needs your client’s approval. You shoot an email to a client. Nothing happens. You send a follow-up email. Nothing! You send another. The same result. You give your client a call. They appear to be unapologetic. They promise to take a look at your correspondence right away. But still nothing. Sounds familiar? Let me assure you this problem is surprisingly common. Yet most PR and marketing professionals struggle to deal with it.
So, here are seven pointers to keep in mind if you are faced with an unresponsive client who won’t put his or her stamp of approval on your materials.
1. Remember: It’s not all about you.
Your clients are busy people. Some of them are running large companies, working on challenging and time-consuming projects and supervising large groups of people. Despite your best efforts and persistence, you may not be their number one priority at all times. Simple as that. So, keep on following up. If it’s a great idea and important to them, EVENTUALLY they will get back to you.
2. Call them rather than email
Even some of the best and most efficient managers are notoriously bad at email. They peruse messages on their mobile devices and think: “I will deal with that later.” By the time they get back to the office, they have 100 more emails to review and 100 phone messages to respond to. If you are not getting any response to your correspondence, just pick up the phone and make a call.
3. Make sure your client knows what to do with the information you sent them and why it’s important
Some PR folks fail to explain to their clients what they need to do with all the work that’s been sent to them. Simply put, if your client has no idea how to respond to your idea, chances are they won’t respond at all. So, why don’t you tell them? Your job is to state clearly in the opening line of your email whether you need them to add technical information to the document, sign off a draft letter or agree to a budget.
4. Make sure the quality of your materials is up to snuff
Most people hate giving negative feedback. Clients might ignore your report or your marketing materials for one simple reason: they think your work is NOT good enough and don’t want to spend hours correcting it. If your work is being constantly ignored, perhaps, you should ask yourself if the quality is up to par and if your materials are strong and compelling enough to ensure your client’s approval.
5. Ask yourself if your idea is pertinent to what your client is hoping to accomplish
Some PR or advertising agencies like to generate activity just to show perceived value to their clients, rather than fully focus on the tactics that are important, can make a difference and generate measurable results. If your clients are busy and you send them stuff that isn’t important to them, not only will they ignore it…but you will also irritate them and make them wonder why they are paying you in the first place.
6. Have a regular chat with your client
Your client’s time is important. That’s why they hire PR professionals to do the work for them. Respect your clients by managing their time effectively. Schedule regular meetings or conference calls, ask questions, clarify all nuances, and make sure you understand EXACTLY what their biggest goals and needs are, which will enable you to deliver results and fulfill their expectations. Give them your undivided attention during each encounter. In fact, that’s a far better way of getting them to sign off your work than constantly chasing them by email.
7. Accept the way things are.
You may not want to hear it…but sometimes great ideas and great pieces of work don’t go anywhere. It happens. Accept it and move on.