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May 31, 2009


The Non-Responsive Penalty

by Anthony Verre

The Non-Responsive Penalty: Ignoring Us Will Cost You

The Two Types of Clients

The Two Types of Clients in BusinessYes, there really are only 2 CORE TYPES of clients that exist in the world:

The Hyper-Responsive Client

This client is the most fun, the most engaging. Can also be the biggest pain in the ass due to their Ultra-Type-A personality.  Key Characteristics:

  1. Make progress and results. Period.  In any direction.
  2. Extraordinarily vigilant about anything you request from them
  3. Extraordinarily vigilant about anything they request from you
  4. Tendency to request progress updates and/or why things are not progressing as quick incessantly
  5. (Usually) extremely grateful

The Non-Responsive Client

The lazy businessman’s dream. They go for long stretches of time (as long as three months) without so much as an email, a call, an anything.  Can be a worse pain in the ass when they finally get around to reading any communiques.  Key Characteristics:

  1. Results-orientated (when they finally look at them)
  2. Vague memory. Claims to have emailed/called about a particular issue multiple times, but can never remember when
  3. Uncanny tendency to impede any/all strategies formulated and clog progress on those strategies
  4. Mostly grateful because they know they’ve been immovable objects throughout the process, but secretly spiteful that you “pushed” them through the process instead of letting it “happen naturally”. (A.K.A. We never have to pay for anything because we authorized nothing)

Pretending We Don’t Exist Will Cost You

That's right. Just keep pretending we don't exist.

That's right. Just keep pretending we don't exist.

It’s the non-responsive clients that forced me into this position in the first place. It sucks. I don’t want to do this either, but you’ve forced my hand.

I know, I know, you ‘haven’t gotten any of the emails I sent”. And, strangely enough, you never got the voicemails I left. I also know you are “extremely busy”, but are you really that busy that you can’t return phone calls or emails? In over 2 months?

I’ve been doing everything I said I would. You get your reporting and analysis. You get your strategy and recommendations.  We have conference calls, I explain things that could be confusing in great detail, and we even have face to face meetings. And now I can’t get you to authorize these or pay for them. You’re just sitting on them hoping I’ll forget.

Look. I know economically times are tough. You have to be careful with your budget. But we have a contract. And, I know the “Ignore Penalty” is not in there now, but it’s going to be.  Here are just some of things where the Ignore Penalty comes into play:

The Ignore Penalty Clauses

  1. If emails/phone calls are not responded to within 1 week , PENALTY. *Out of Office auto-response does count*
  2. If information is asked for and is not responded to and/or not gotten to me in a timely manner, PENALTY
    *Timely is relative to the time-sensitivity of the issue. But again, most cases will be 1 week*
  3. If authorization, of any kind, is needed to move forward with agreed upon strategy and is not given, PENALTY
    *For each week authorization is not given, the penalty is applied*

*All penalties multiple for each week of lateness, by 20%.

Jump = How High? Applies to us Both

Believe me, this is going to hurt me as much as it’s going to hurt you. I like my clients. I really do. But you’re going to have to “grow-up” sometime and realize this “internet marketing thing” isn’t a fad. It isn’t just for unshaven twenty-somethings who are doing this for fun. Our business is just as serious as yours.

Hopefully, I never even have to impose the “Ignore Clause”. But, if I do, my hope is that it only takes one time. You expect promptness from me, you want what you asked for immediately. I have no problem with the JUMP = HOW HIGH rule.  Unfortunately that door swings both ways.  And, if you don’t believe it, just keep ignoring your responsibilites.

  1. Jun 4 2009

    I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site? Thank you in advance.

  2. Jun 7 2009

    I enjoyed this post as well. The interesting thing would be to see how this would play out in the market place.
    How would this be written into a contract?
    How would this be presented to the client during the sales process.
    It is interesting because the cost of following up with clients that don’t respond costs a company in more than just time. It costs them in employee morale as well.
    Quite frankly I think if you are dealing with the owner or main budget holder this would probably go well. Where it might get dicey is when you are dealing with a person who has been given the responsibility to handle it and is not responsive and then tries to talk you down. However, as a business person the idea seems to be something worth trying.
    Jim Bernthal

  3. Aug 14 2009

    This is great information and would definitely help any SEO professional deal with his/her clients. You have some great points and you put them in words really well. Thank you for the amazing post.

  4. Dec 29 2009

    I like the way you mentioned the non responsive client. Explains a lot of crap if you know what i mean. However, if there ever was a time to start working towards that goal. Then I think NOW is the time. Thanks for the heads up.

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