How NOT to Please Your Clients

Ever had one of those client requests that made you want to sucker-punch your dear and beloved customer right in the face?

Juuuust kidding. You should never sucker-punch your customers. Not even for crazy requests.

But you know exactly the sort of request we’re talking about, don’t you?

  • The guy that wants his advertisement a little more “catchy”
  • The bride that wants her photos to have a little more “pizzazz”
  • The business owner who tells you his copy doesn’t have enough “oomph!”
  • The person who wants something a little more… *cocks head to the side* “jazzy, you know?”

And you want to scream: NO I DON’T KNOW!!!! But simply grin instead and focus all your might on keeping your fist from flying off into a frenzy…

But what can you do that’s actually constructive?

You Job is NOT to Please Your Client

The biggest problem in dealing with such client requests stems from the belief that you must please your client.

And you mustn’t.

Shocking, no? Especially when you consider the first rule of business: the client is always right.

What they don’t tell you, however, is that though clients may (proverbially) always be right in what they want, clients are NOT always right in how they communicate what they want.

Let me put it this way:
A client walks into a hairdressing salon, sits aplomb on the swiveling chair, swipes to a saved image on her phone and declares: I want my hair exactly like this.

Nothing vague about that, right? No jazzy or pizzazz-y anything.

Except that, the hairdresser feels like throwing up in his mouth from anxiety!

That haircut and hair color would look horrendous on his client. Terrible. Yucky. Pale. No-no. Totally weird and simply wrong.

So does he do it? Should he go ahead and please his client?

Stop Pleasing. Start Satisfying

In the case of the hairdresser, the answer is obviously no. When the client sees the result on herself she’ll hate it. And hate the hairdresser even more.

And the same holds true when the request is expressed in the form of vague, jazzy, and pizzazz-y comments. Because in that case, not even the client knows what he wants. Yet!
That’s why he can’t articulate or express it. So how are you supposed to please a secret request?

Your job is not to please every crazy request. Your job is to discover the result the client wants. And satisfy that.

So back to our hairdresser.

He takes up the phone with a trembling hand and says: “That hair’s lovely. What do you like about it?”
“Oh, I like how she looks so sexy, you know?” The client responds. “And I love her bangs. Aren’t bangs in style now?”

Aha! Now the hairdresser knows more about the result his client is after: sexy and in vogue.

So he replies:
“Yes, I do think she looks very sexy! And bangs are sort of in style now, but I don’t think they’d do justice to your wonderful cheekbones. They’d take all the attention away. You know what would make you look drop-dead hot and sexy?” And he goes on to suggest the right cut, style, and color.

The clients knows what result she wants. She doesn’t know how to get there. And it’s your job to discover that path.

Fielding Crazy Client Requests

Next time you have to field a crazy request from a dear and beloved customer, don’t bite your lips down or press your jaws together in anger.


Instead, dive into the request to discover the desired resultAsk questions like:


  • What does more jazzy mean to you?
  • Do you have an example of what you mean so I can take a look?
  • Have you seen something similar somewhere else? (Chances are, they have; that’s why they’re asking for it.)
  • Is this more in the vein of what you’d like?
  • Why would you like to replicate this marketing campaign? How do you think it will benefit your company?
  • Why do you think you want a website that’s the exact replica of this well-known company or person? What specifically do you like about it?

These sort of questions will inevitably lead you to results. And results is what you want. We can work with results! And we can prepare awesome & creative solutions for those results!

    • Oh, you want a marketing campaign that brings in new clients from related fields?! Well, here’s how we can do that for you!
    • Oh, you like this email series because you read it brought in higher sales from existing subscribers for this company? Well, here’s how we can adjust that to your needs!
    • Oh, you want a replica of that website because this person is the thought leader in your field and you want to establish your own professionalism and authority?! Well, here are some solutions that would make you look professional and credible, without appearing like a copycat without a voice.

Your Client’s Not an Idiot; She’s Your Mother!

When talking about making commercials, David Ogilvy famously said:

The consumer isn’t an idiot; she’s your wife.

This was the great ad-man’s warning against marketers who created commercials that were all fluff and hype. The type of marketers that thought they could fool consumers into buying products they didn’t need.

But that strategy never works. Not in the long run.

And the same holds true for client requests that happen on a one-to-one scale.

Your client is not an idiot; she’s your mother.

Would your mother know how to request something in your line of work by communicating it the right way? Unless she happens to be involved in your profession, the answer is probably not.

Your mother would be the person who wants the flyer more “flashy,” and her text “louder,” and her pictures “fancier.”

But you wouldn’t hate her for it or throw a titty fit about it, would you?

Your clients aren’t purposely trying to irritate you. (At least most of them aren’t. And those who are, you should let go of immediately!) All they’re trying to do is achieve results.

As the professional in the deal, and as a creative professional to boot, your job is NOT to please your client’s every whim.

Your job is to discover what results the client is truly after and satisfy her true request.

And if you achieve that, you’ll never want to sucker-punch another client EVER again!
And that in itself must be worth all the questions you may have to ask. 🙂

What are YOUR Crazy Requests?

What are some crazy requests you’ve gotten from clients in the past? How did you deal with them? Or what did it turn out that the client really wanted in the end?

Share your crazy stories with us below and let’s all learn together from each other!