25 Tips on How to Be an Angel of a Client

Bad client says "I'm not going to pay for your mistakes!"

If every client wants to be liked and receive the best service, then why is it so hard to be a great measurement client? Many might blame some deep inner fears of math combined with existential control issues stemming from a childhood encounter with a ruler that left you with an indelible fear of being measured. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about that…

Instead, I asked the best and the brightest of my colleagues, who (alongside myself) have collectively survived about 500 years in this business. We ended up with 25 tips to get the most from your measurement vendors.


  1. If a vendor puts in a lot of time on an RFP or proposal, have the guts to let them know the results, and why.  If you don’t, chances are good they won’t be as responsive the next time.
  2. If you’re unhappy, sit down and have a beer with your vendor.  Chances are they are dying to know what they can do better.
  3. Do your homework before calling for a vendor quote.  No one can price out blue sky.
  4. Gratitude is great, silence is the worst. There’s nothing worse than running around like crazy to get a client something and then hearing nothing in return. A simple thank you email is much appreciated.
  5. Ask, don’t tell. You hired them for their expertise. So when you have a project or a problem, ask for (and listen to) their advice on how to troubleshoot it. If you just give them order, then you lose the benefit of their experience. Chances are good that they’ve dealt with similar issues with other clients and can offer a best practice or better solution.
  6. Treat your vendor as a partner. You selected your vendor because you both want the same thing: Accurate, timely, valid research. Many are also happy to be your friend, your therapist, your confessor, and your sounding board. But, first and foremost, they want to be treated with respect. You are not running Downton Abbey, so don’t expect them to jump when you ring the bell. They’ll work much harder on a project that makes them feel valued and respected versus one that leaves them belittled and unappreciated.
  7. If you absolutely have to have the end result by “tomorrow,” please contact your vendor sooner than the day before “tomorrow.”
  8. Manage your sense of urgency. Nothing is harder than when every project and every request comes with an urgent deadline. The sense of urgency gets to be numbing after awhile. You vendor will understand that sometimes deadlines need to be moved up, but we all know that not every instance cannot be that urgent. PR agencies: Are you listening?
  9. Let them inside your world, so that they know what will be important and what they can ignore. And that doesn’t mean just making sure they have all your measurement requirements. It means giving them the inside skinny on priorities and keeping them in the loop on the organization chart. If they don’t know what’s what, they won’t know what’s important.
  10. Be honest and forthcoming. They don’t mind if they have to be your therapist, but give them the same respect, be forthcoming, and willing to heed their advice.
  11. Lose the entitlement attitude. Your vendor isn’t your mother. As many times as they may pull off the impossible, every once in a while the rabbit just will not come out of the hat, no matter how hard you pull.
  12. Realize you aren’t their only client. Most likely they are juggling needs and asks of dozens of clients.
  13. Be clear in your objectives including who needs the reporting, how it will be used, timelines, and any other considerations (such as bonuses on performance).
  14. Invest the time needed to get the most out of your measurement project. It takes time to do it right. Vendors are not mind readers. It will make you look smarter if together you do a thorough job.
  15. Own the analysis. Add your own understanding to make it richer and more insightful.
  16. Build measurable tactics into your PR programs to help demonstrate that your message was heard, e.g. a call to action, like take a health screener, download a fact sheet, view an infographic, register for a newsletter, vote for preferred action/preference, etc.
  17. Educate yourself about measurement. Identify five smart people in the field and meet with them for a substantive discussion of the issues before you issue your RFP.
  18. Set realistic budgets. Measurement providers have to put food on the table, too. Know what things cost and know what the smart trade-offs are.
  19. Recognize that the truth will set you free and that the data is the data. Vendors don’t “make you look” either bad or good. We provide the data and the goal should be to use it to improve. If you have a smart measurement program, then you can do your job better and longer – either where you are or elsewhere.

Do not:

  1. Don’t yell. Ever. Take your meds. If you feel like screaming at your vendor, take more.
  2. Don’t come back at the end of a project and change the criteria because you don’t like the results or you forgot something. No fair-sies!
  3. Don’t lie or conveniently forget conversations, saying one thing to your vendor and another to your boss.
  4. Do not spread FUD (fear, uncertainly, and doubt) with vague threats. If you’re unhappy, explain why, then see #9 above.
  5. Don’t ask your vendor for something at 5:30PM on a Friday before a holiday weekend. Especially if you’re not even going to look at the results until the following week.
  6. Don’t set things up for failure. Don’t promise that something will be delivered by a certain day before checking to make sure it’s even doable. If as a result we don’t make your deadline, then don’t blame it on us. ∞

Thanks to Blog Seopult for the image.

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