We Failed at Client Management

I wrote this up for LinkedIn, but by the end of it I really thought it would make for a great conversation starter here in SMP.

What have you failed at, and what were the lessons learned?

Have any tips/tricks or fancy procedures for client management?

Here’s the full post:

As a marketing agency, we experienced great success in 2022, but we also faced challenges that taught us some invaluable lessons. One of the lessons we learned was the importance of prioritizing client management.

As we have taken on more complex projects, we’ve come to realize that a client’s active participation is not always guaranteed. We’ve learned that underestimating the time and energy required to keep clients engaged and bought in to projects can lead to stagnation or even project failure.

The very nature of our work is being nuanced, a bit of a mystery, and a lot like an iceberg. What you see above the surface (deliverables, final outcomes) is only a tiny amount of what is actually going on in the background (research, planning, timing, designing, testing, troubleshooting). Without communicating along the way, it’s easy to see how clients can assume “nothing is getting done.”

Even when we are distracted and overloaded, a more responsible version of myself would not be complacent simply knowing “the ball’s in their court.” We learned the ball is never truly out of our own court. We need to be better client managers.

Here are three specific lessons we learned from our failure:

  1. Communication is key: We learned that open and honest communication with our clients is critical. We now prioritize regular check-ins and clear communication channels, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

  2. Establishing clear processes and procedures: Having well-defined processes and procedures in place has proven essential to maintaining client engagement. By establishing clear expectations and keeping clients informed throughout the project, we ensure that they feel like they’re part of the team and that their input is valued.

  3. Prioritizing relationship-building: Our experiences have taught us that it’s important to invest time in building strong relationships with our clients. By understanding their needs and goals, we can tailor our approach to better meet their expectations and keep them actively involved in the project.

We’ve learned that successful client management is essential to project success. By prioritizing communication, establishing clear processes and procedures, and building strong relationships with our clients, we’ve become more effective at keeping them engaged and bought in to the projects we tackle.


Nice share on the client management experience. Not always easy… still love it though!

It is interesting to see how we get initial buy-in from clients and then people realise that its a collaboration and that can change the dynamics. I am also a big fan of trying to establish the relationship earlier on so that we can position ourselves as a trusted advisor … and bring more strategic value to clients.


Right? It is kind of “work” being a client too! Such a unique dynamic. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to sort this out.

This is great @amykpsh - so many good points in this post! I just this second finished recording a video on the importance of Client Expectations with Communication – so as soon as I have a link, I’ll share it in here, too. I’ve found that the client communication piece is one of the most essential parts of a successful relationship.

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