10 Client Red Flags To Watch Out For When Marketing

Are you aware of the most common client red flags to watch out for when marketing for your business?

Here’s a shared experience most professionals are familiar with…

If you work with people across multiple industries, you’re likely aware of exactly what it is that makes you tick. We’re not simply talking about clients that are difficult to work with as those clients offer challenges to help us adapt and grow as writers. Nope, we’re talking about clients with bold, unapologetic, blazing red flags you want to avoid entirely.

With over a decade of experience marketing for many clients, we’ve (nearly) seen and heard it all before. Whether we’re reflecting on corporate experiences or those as a small business, client red flags aren’t always visible right away. But, there are a few client red flags to watch out for when marketing for a company that you may be unfamiliar with.

Here’s our take on what we observe when working with new clients.

Psst! If you need copywriting for your business, we’re only a discovery call away! Schedule your discovery call now.

It’s Okay To Reject Some Sales: 10 Client Red Flags To Watch Out For When Marketing

Do you wish marketing client red flags were more…obvious? You may be missing out on these telltale signs that someone is not a right fit for you and your business.

1. No Respect For Your Time

We aren’t too firm around here about micromanaging our time. We strategize and acknowledge client expectations to determine what we do in a day. We’re also human, so running a bit late or canceling in emergencies is completely understandable – and we account for incidents like these, too.

However, when a client doesn’t respect your time, it usually becomes obvious right away – especially when it comes to meetings. 

If you think time might be an issue for your client, ask yourself…

If they are late or no show to a meeting, do they try to apologize and reschedule?

Are they late or do they not show up a little too often?

Do they go MIA after skipping meetings and remain unresponsive?

Sometimes, a meeting is necessary for quality work. But this isn’t the only way a client can show a lack of respect for your time… 

2. Expectations Are Unreasonable & Non Negotiable

Aside from scheduled meetings, do your client’s expectations align with your expertise, skills, and education? When it comes to copywriting, we sometimes deal with:

  • Too tight timelines
  • A queue of consistently rushed projects

Let’s be clear – we will turn copy around quickly and are happy to expedite for clients that we know trust us and our skills. But rushed new projects typically take away the time we need to research, plan, and execute properly. Seeing too many of these lets us know it’s just not going to work out because we cannot feel completely confident about the quality of work we’re delivering. 

We do our best work when there’s time and bandwidth for our copywriters to follow our process and get the deliverable done. And it would be wrong to knowingly deliver low-quality work to simply complete every task. In this case, negotiations and flexibility are key to working well together. Without the opportunity to meet in the middle, your chances of success and satisfaction with your copy are lower.

3. There’s Always A Fire To Put Out

Speaking of rush jobs, we get it. Clients can end up in a bind and really need your support to see them through. And, make no mistake, you are there! 

But what happens when 9 times out of 10, this particular client always seems to have a fire they need to put out with your immediate attention? 

Diving into daily rush jobs is no way to run a business. 

This should prompt you to ask, “How is this a sustainable way to operate for my client?” 

It likely isn’t.

4. They Treat Those Around Them Poorly

Whether you’re on a video call or in a shared chat, it’s healthy to notice the way your clients treat those around them. We’re not talking about the attitude that comes from having a bad day (we can forgive and forget). We’re highlighting behavior that isn’t acceptable in any type of professional or personal setting like:

  • Sexual harassment (no!)
  • Racist or discriminating remarks (double no!)
  • Blatantly rude comments
  • Yelling
  • Swearing
  • Aggressive behavior

If your former kindergarten teacher would be ashamed to see it, it’s probably not the type of behavior you want to deal with regularly.

5. Word Travels Fast

Pay attention to industry-related buzz. You can learn a thing or two from those who have worked with a potential client before. Hearing from a disgruntled employee is one thing. But be hyper aware of conversations about your client that have one or several similar things in common like…

  • Late or missed payments
  • Legal troubles
  • Inability to work with others
  • High turnover

Lookout! Problems like these have the potential to cut into your revenue stream, draining your resources. 

6. They Simply Won’t Pay

You don’t need to overthink it. Clients who are routinely unresponsive to communications about missed or late payments won’t change just for you. The truth is that you’re probably not the only vendor having trouble collecting payment. But if you have completed the work required using company time and resources, you deserve to be paid. Period!

7. No Loyal Vendors

If you notice a routine pattern of your client hiring and firing vendors, don’t be surprised when your services end up on the chopping block. It’s a huge red flag for a business without a handful of reliable vendors or other professional partnerships in their corner.

Ready to build your relationship with copywriting professionals you can count on? We’re SO in!

8. Bad Customer Reviews & Responses

Similar to word-of-mouth feedback, it helps to look at Google reviews, Glassdoor, Yelp, and Angi (Angie’s List) for authentic customer and/or employee reviews. Take note of recurring complaints to weigh the pros and cons of the marketing relationship challenges you may face moving forward together. 

Bonus Tip: Read their direct responses to negative customer reviews. Replies that are disrespectful and avoid addressing the customer’s problems with empathy are red flags.

9. They Favor The Blame Game

Having the ability to own up to one’s actions and mistakes is essential for business owners. If a client can’t or won’t hold themselves accountable, they may start to play the blame game. This means that they may be quick to point a finger at their own employees, co-workers, or even customers before taking accountability for themselves. And they won’t likely make an exception to give you grace when you need it. 

Yes, some mistakes are costly! But it takes everyone working together to remain focused on the task at hand, address problems fast, and offer solutions even faster.

10. Your Gut Is Telling You NO

Occasionally, deciding whether or not to cut off a client relationship can come down to your gut feelings. If something feels off, it might be best to listen to your instincts before moving forward. Do you like working with them? If not, think about what it is that makes you uncomfortable.

Also, communicate with the people you surround yourself with. If your team doesn’t enjoy working with a certain client, take the time to listen and find out why. They may end up saying something you’ve been feeling all along.

Beige Flags That We Love

What’s a beige flag?

We’re glad you asked! A beige flag is a characteristic or habit someone has that is valuable and should never be taken for granted. A few examples include…

  • Giving a head’s up about meeting or scheduling issues
  • Showing passion for the work they do
  • Sending OOO notifications
  • Constructive collaboration and criticism
  • Words of appreciation

Having clients we love to work with AND for makes copywriting so much fun! 

Big Takeaways About Marketing Client Red Flags

There is no clear-cut way to establish whether you should or shouldn’t work with someone.

Our advice for client red flags to watch out for when marketing? 

Include a red flag policy before deciding to work together. You should never have to compromise for anything less than mutual respect and the basic ability to be professional with one another.

Phew! Now, get back to business because you’ve got this!Need copy that speaks to your brand’s vision? Schedule a discovery call!

Focus Your Copy On Conversation & Conversion

Let’s Grab A Virtual Coffee With Us To Discover How To Boost Your Words