when to fire inbound marketing client I recently heard from two colleagues (one a HubSpot partner, the other a user of a leading marketing automation platform) about customer engagements that seem doomed to failure.

My question is: When do you decide to cut bait with such clients?

Partnership Pain

One case involves a start-up with promising technology, but limited budget and marketing expertise. They have only a general idea of their target customer groups, much less specific personas or guidelines for scoring individual prospects. What’s worse, they’ve been very slow delivering feedback on content, as well as other promised material such as existing email lists or log-in information for their social media accounts such as Twitter.

The other case involves a large, established client looking to integrate an existing Web site with their in-house marketing automation platform. The consultant has asked the customer, without success, how many leads the customers wants from the marketing program, what they would consider a quality lead, and what parts of the inbound marketing process the customer will perform in-house and which the consultant will handle.

The lack of answers makes the consultant, naturally, very nervous about committing to a scope of work that could explode and sap their margins, and about being called on the carpet for failing to produce results that were never defined for them.

My questions are 1) what would you do with clients like these? and 2) What red flags have worked for you in deciding to ditch – or never start working with – an inbound marketing client?

Storm Warnings

My danger list, gained from much painful experience, when clients can’t or won’t:

  •  Pay a fair rate or commit to several months of effort.
  •   Quantify the number of leads they expect.
  • Describe what constitutes a “great, good or poor” lead.
  • Provide feedback from sales on the quality of leads a
  •  content marketing campaign is providing.
  • Provide promised sales material or access to subject matter experts to guide content development.
  •  Repeatedly miss scheduled meetings or deadlines of marketing content.

Those are my “gut feeling” indicators of when to pull the plug with a client. What are yours?  No names, please, to protect the guilty. And any “tough love” tactics that have helped get a wayward client back on track also very welcome.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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