When to say no to a client

Saying no to our pet projects or marketing tactics that attract our eyes is one thing, but saying no to clients; that’s something else.

I’ve thought of four times when you absolutely need to say “no” to a client or opportunity.

1. When it moves you off of your mission or values

This one is easy. If doing the work goes against your values, you have to say no. Your values are there to tell you what to say no to.

The second half of this is harder – when the work is taking you off your mission. Your mission is the difference you are making – your 100-year goal that is your North Star. It’s clear you don’t want work that distracts from that, but at the moment, it can feel really subtle. It’s work. We can make money. That 100-year goal is pretty far away…but you still have to say “no.”

2. When they won’t take no for an answer

When clients come to you with an idea or a tactic, and they want you to execute it – watch out.

Creative engagements only work when the client is willing to let you take the lead. When they start telling you what to do, it’s time to regain that leadership position or “say no.”

When the client takes the lead, the engagement ends in disaster 100% of the time – cut it off at the beginning to save you and your team the heartache.

3. When they’re paying too little

That client that’s been with you forever and you’ve never raised your prices with them. It’s time.

That other client who negotiated an amazing deal? Don’t renew at that rate.

There’s business out there, and your personnel costs are going up – you can’t keep going with those low-profit clients.

4. When the love is gone.

Some relationships don’t age well.

If you’ve had a client for a while and they’ve seen all your tricks, and it does not impress them anymore, you can try to come back and redo the strategy to birth the next “big idea” that can fire up the love again.

Or you can get a new, bigger client who has the love.

What did I miss? Who else should you say no to that I didn’t mention? Hit reply and let me know.

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