The Top 5 Client Characteristics Every Marketing Executive Should Possess.

client-service-account-management-types-of-clients-2-638Sweeney has declared 2016 as a year of positivity. From a practical standpoint, this means we are all trying our very best to experience life from a “glass half full” POV and avoid getting dragged into the muck. This gold stocks may be an exercise in futility for a group of well-intentioned but delusional professionals… only time will tell.

Regardless, my heightened state of positivity recently got me thinking about some of my favorite client experiences (as opposed to dwelling on and complaining about my least favorite client experiences). In no particular order, here are the top 5 favorite client characteristics I believe every marketing executive should possess.

  1. Clients with high floors and equally high ceilings. So often (too often), clients with severely limited marketing dollars expect the agency to meet their high expectations, despite low budgets. And I get it. They are being squeezed by internal forces, so they squeeze us. But every once in a while, I’ve experienced a client who says, “Jim, we need your help. We have a situation that needs to be addressed, but we have very limited funds; what can we do?” They make us part of the solution instead of part of the problem. And I love that.
  2. Clients who embrace us as part of their team. I love, love, love being a part of the client team. There is nothing worse than being treated like a “outside vendor,” and nothing better than being treated like a valued partner. Clients who bring us in at the earliest stages and openly share opportunities and challenges are the ones who benefit the most from our marketing expertise. And I love them.
  3. Clients who understand the agency perspective. Many clients have agency experience, but a lot don’t. For those who do not, I greatly appreciate the ones who have taken the time to learn what we do and how the agency world works and display a true empathy for our business. There is this mistaken impression that agencies are funhouses for adults… offices full of Nerf guns and ping pong tables and open bars where wacky adventures are the norm and work is a magical byproduct. Seriously, it’s work.
  4. Clients who are good marketers, are passionate and give good direction. Just like every Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Florence, SC and every doctor isn’t Christiaan Barnard, every marketing executive isn’t Steve Jobs. And they don’t have to be. But it sure helps if they are trained and experienced marketers. Better still if they love marketing and are passionate about what they are doing. And best of all if they know how to convey that experience and passion to the agency.
  5. Clients with vision.  These are my favorites. Clients who can see beyond the tactics, beyond today, beyond the immediate project and budgets. Clients who see the big picture and are able to connect dots to a better and brighter future; these are my personal heroes. Clients who are open to ideas and possibilities are gifts from God. Clients who realize that just because it’s what we’ve always done, doesn’t mean we always have to do it. Clients who realize just because something is new and shiny doesn’t mean we need to do it. Thank you for making my professional life more rewarding.
  6. Bonus Characteristic: Clients who take responsibility for mistakes. Listen, I’ve made more mistakes in my career than I’d like to remember. I have worked devilishly hard for 30+ years to get better every single day. I always put my clients and their work first and I do everything in my power to deliver the best service and results. Every day. But as the bumper sticker says, “Sh•it Happens”. As a practice and policy, we take full ownership, responsibility and liability for our mistakes. It is the only way we can learn and move forward. And I love clients who are of the same mindset and practice. I have been sacrificed and thrown under the bus more than a few times these past three decades, but I have also been saved from time to time. And there is no better feeling than when a client steps up and holds him or herself accountable with you… or at the very least, defends you. There is a special place for you in the next life.


Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.