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My Client Doesn’t Respect Me!

On this episode of Can We Talk, we’re going to whip out our sequins and microphones and see what Ms. Aretha Franklin was all about: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

(Okay, you don’t really have to get glammed up for this chat, but you do your thing!)

There is no amount of money that a client can pay you that warrants you being treated as less than the capable digital professional that you are. This should be your personal standard without question, always—no matter how well your agency is doing at the time.

But there are many reasons that clients might not seem to respect you or your agency, and not all of them are intentional. Here are just a few examples of how that might come up:

  • They don’t quite understand what you—or they—are supposed to do. 
  • They really don’t understand what you do, or the fact that it’s more than just punching in a few codes. 
  • They don’t understand your preferences for agency-client communication. 

Miscommunication happens, but there’s a huge difference between accidentally hearing something incorrectly and choosing to ignore it. If you’re in a situation where you don’t think that the disrespect is intentional, then it’s worth your time, and theirs, to help your client adjust their behavior.

To help assess the true nature of the disrespect that you’re feeling from your client, let’s start with a few questions:

“How experienced is my client in working with people like me?”

“How have I already attempted to address my discomfort? Did my client seem receptive to the conversation, or were they more annoyed?”

“Is there anything that might not have been clear in my communication? What could I be doing differently to help myself and my client?”

Upon reflection, you might find that Questions 1 and 2 are major issues. And if you’ve answered, “a lot,” to Question 1 and, “annoyed,” to Question 2, you are totally free to interpret those as red flags.

If you feel like the problem could have anything to do with Question 3, it’s time to take a good look at how you’re presenting yourself to your clients. Here’s an excellent opportunity to not only command the respect you deserve, but to also set yourself up for even more success in the future!

Respect is not always given automatically, but it can always be commanded. It’s time to find the techniques that allow you to do that in a way that puts you on the path to excellent client relationships.

  • Pump up your image.

Being humble is a great quality to have—except when it comes to commanding respect for yourself and your agency.

What kinds of actions have you taken to make yourself look more established? Think about endorsements or references from other professionals that can make you shine, a portfolio that highlights your best work, and more. 

  • Watch your words. 

Command respect by talking yourself up, never down! By using language that downplays your experience or involvement, you set the stage for being viewed that way by your potential clients, too. This can even come down to the title that you give yourself. 

  • Refresh your communication strategy.

 Though your proposal might have laid down all of the information and responsibilities for both sides, you might still need to insist on your client’s participation. This often has to do with the way you’re framing the relationship through your communication, but it could just be that they don’t have much experience working with digital agencies.

Make sure that your clients know that they’re exactly that —a client— and that you’re not some kind of lackey. In addition, double and triple check how explicitly you’re stating your client’s responsibilities in the proposal stage.

I’ve said it before, but in case you need a reminder, you are worth what you charge for your services. Your skills, knowledge, and experience are proof of that alone.

Now it’s time to make sure that you are transmitting that fact to your clients, and that you are not letting yourself compromise your standards for how you are treated. If you feel that you’re not being respected, get in the driver’s seat and purposefully, but respectfully, change it!

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