Recently, I had a situation in which I was not at peace with the client that I was working with.
I worked with this client for about one year. The client came to me with no marketing strategy. He said he had a website and that was it. I put together an online marketing strategy for him. I designed a new website for the client, setup and managed a Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ page, and a LinkedIn profile.
I explained to him how he needed to focus on his niche, which was in a very reputable industry – one in which he could succeed in if he followed the plan.
Without getting into all of the details, here are a few things this client did after we agreed on the marketing strategy:
- He set up other websites and social media accounts without my knowledge.
- He sent me and his list of 10,000+ untargeted contacts SPAM message after SPAM message, daily, about joining network marketing groups, joining affiliate programs, joining his meetups, etc. Each one was shadier then the other. (That is not to say that all network marketing and affiliate marketing is shady, however as a long time online marketer, I recognize scams when I see them.)
I thought, this guy just doesn’t get it. So, after speaking with him on several occasions, I had another consultant who I also had working on this project with me talk to him, again, about the importance of integrity in the online marketing world. Each time we spoke to him, he assured us he got it and would apologize for what he was doing.
Eventually, the Facebook pages that he was managing were shut down. He had LinkedIn profiles shut down. He also had Google+ pages shut down. Each time he would frantically write to us and say that “someone” had his Facebook (LinkedIn and Google+) pages shut down. Even though we would explain to him it was because of his deceptive practices, he was still convinced that “someone” was behind all of this.
Once I wrote this in an email to him: “I have no idea what is happening with your pages. I am sure they are monitoring your activity.”
To make a very long story short, this is how the relationship ended:
The other consultant contacted me furious because he continued to receive SPAM email messages from the client. He was also furious because the client sent him an email asking him if he knew how to “take down” other people’s Facebook pages. This is just part of the “break up” email the other consultant wrote to the client:
“… from the beginning you did not listen and you do not seem to learn. I am actually wondering if you take your business seriously.”
I could not believe what he had asked the other consultant to do.
Generally, I look people up before I start working with them. I did just that prior to working with this client, but did not do a thorough search. Well, it came time for me to do so.
This is just some of what I found, and what I sent to this client in an email:
‘Over a month ago, we lost [the other consultant], who was a valuable part of my team, due to your spamming activities. Following those incidences you and I had a discussion where we talked about your allowing me to help you clean up your (very overwhelming) online presence. After that meeting, I noticed that the spamming behavior did not stop. I sent you a couple of email messages requesting information that I needed from you. Your response was not the information that I asked for, but instead, you sent SPAM email messages asking me to sign up for various affiliate programs. It was at that time that I decided to track what you were doing online.
I spent the last month monitoring your online activity, and I am so very disappointed by what I’ve found…
Following is what I found while reviewing your online activity:
- You continued to open social media accounts even after our discussion, and even after having several social media accounts shutdown by Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
- You continued to SPAM your own Facebook page, which I was managing for you.
- You began spamming your own Twitter page, which I was managing.
- I found numerous other social media accounts you’ve opened on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.
- I found numerous websites online.
- I found many email addresses that you use for various things to also include “mingling” online with women. Just in case someone has to tell you, that does not look real good for your business.
- I found the following social media, email addresses and domains:
[I will not list the details in this article such as I did in the email to the client, but they included:]
- 10 Facebook Pages
- 4 LinkedIn Profiles
- 8 Google+ Pages
- 2 Pinterest Accounts
- 14 Email Addresses
- 43 Domain Names
- 3 Twitter Accounts …”
Though, there is more to the email that I sent to him, you get the gist. That was my goodbye message to the client. Believe it or not, he continued to write to me and the other consultant begging us to take him back. Whew! Crazy, right?
I encourage each one of you to do research on your clients before starting any projects. Remember, this person came to me claiming he didn’t have anything online other than his website. He hid a lot by using other names and misspelling his own name. So, I had to get creative when doing the final research.
After saying all of this, again I ask, when you’re not at peace with a client and/or project is it okay to walk away? My answer is, ABSOLUTELY!
If this client had not consistently been a nice person, I would have walked much earlier. I got caught up in the fact that he was so polite, and always so apologetic – forgetting that there truly are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
If you are a consultant, please let me know how you’ve handled similar situations. How did you feel when you walked away? Did you feel guilty, relieved or both?