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April 1, 2015
Learning from Losing Clients
A client called last Sunday...a client of three years who never calls on the weekend. That didn’t bode well, and it wasn’t good news. Everything was going well. Probably too well, as the call demonstrated.

“I’ve got to end our relationship now,” said the client. “You’ve done a great job, but with all these new demands, I can’t keep up with our content production schedule.” My content marketing efforts had paid off handsomely for this consultant, who had recently aggregated 20-some published columns into a short book of advice for aspiring creatives, which also received solid media coverage. But as the publicity harvest grew, said client caught the attention of several online career websites, as well as conference chairs, and he was now under the gun to finish producing a series of video classes.

Good news for him, bad news for me, especially as he had been a regular source of new business leads. But what’s the lesson here? While I had taken on this fledgling business and helped it develop a growing brand, my client was unable to scale the business to meet its growing opportunities. Something had to give and, alas, it was the public relations campaign, which in his mind had largely accomplished its mission.

I had expected this all along — success is a double-edge sword — as most of my clients are marketing creatives who rely on their intellectual capital to make their way. And, often, the more work that flows in, the less time they find to invest in ongoing brand and leadership-building efforts.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed and flush with today’s success, they apply the brakes to public relations. Unfortunately, the absence of PR support will not become readily noticeable for months. By then the media trail will have cooled off and reinvigorating a PR campaign will take added effort.

No client relationship lasts forever. The only consolations are the recognition that my efforts had moved his business forward and the hope that he will continue to mention me to potential clients.

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Len Stein founded Visibility Public Relations to position the full spectrum of creative marketing services companies for industry thought-leadership. 

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