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4 Types of Clients and How to Manage Them

Written by CX3 Digital
March 9, 2020
4 types of clients

Anyone who’s ever worked at an agency knows how difficult it is to work with several different clients and manage their needs simultaneously. Alas, there are different types of clients in the marketing industry, each with their own personalities, priorities, brand strategies, creative tastes, and budgetary restrictions. If you manage them all the same way, you’re going to find yourself in a world of trouble.

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In this article you’ll learn:

  • Client management best practices
  • How to profile your client
  • How to recognize their personality type
  • How to manage each archetype

We’re going to break down your clients into four general archetypes. Then we’ll help you understand how you can best manage these types of personalities and provide actionable tips that you can use in the future.

Before You Begin: Quick Marketing Client Best Practices

1. Trust and Communication

Effective communication is a critical aspect of building trust, which leads to strong client relationships. You can’t have a solid relationship if you’re missing one of these two components.

The best ways to build trust and communication with your clients is by being transparent with them, and by communicating in an organized and streamlined way. Don’t hide information! Be open about your objectives and KPIs. Give them regular updates. You need to establish good rapport.

It seems simple, but it can be harder than it looks. Not getting along on a personal level, or poorly performing campaigns can seriously impact client trust.

2. Understand Your Client

You can’t deal with every client the same way. For example, some clients might hate sugar-coated news, so you best give it to them frank! Some clients are the complete opposite.

You need to know what your client likes and dislikes before getting knee-deep into a project with them.

Personality basics are quintessential in the agency world. You deal with multiple clients and have numerous touch points throughout the business lifecycle.

Personality comes out naturally in conversation, but don’t be fooled! You might figure out your client when it’s too late and run into serious problems once a project picks up speed.

Take an hour to understand how your client ticks during your client onboarding session. It’s essential to do this before you start working with them. Try the following:

  • Understand their strengths and weaknesses. Ask them or make observations based on your interactions. Work with their assets to get the most out of your partnership.
  • Ask them about their personality type. This will help you grasp who they are on a concrete level. You’ll be able to communicate better and avoid unnecessary conflicts before they arise.
  • Ask them about their pet peeves. It sounds so basic, but knowing these can help you tailor your services to meet your clients’ needs. Pet peeve discussions are always a fun bonding experience ?!
  • Understand what they like. Have a discussion about the traits, gestures, and business style that they admire. Implementing your findings will score you extra brownie points.

3. Be Patient and Respectful

The worst thing you can do is lose it in front of your clients. This can totally destroy your relationship, or worse, give them a reason to fire you.

Your clients rely on you to be an expert in your field. Respect them by educating them, and by being patient with them throughout their learning process. An educated client may be less inclined to force their ideas on your team because they understand the system and your role in it.

At the end of everything, be grateful for your clients and lessons learned. Use everything as a reason to be a better business partner and person.

The 4 Different Types of Clients You Will Meet in Marketing Agencies

1. Lawyers

Much like lawyers, these clients are orderly, succinct, to the point, and accurate.

They mean business. They don’t like fluff, bells and whistles, surprises, or smoke and mirrors.

They expect you to know what you’re doing, and report on it to a T. They won’t be impressed with you if you can’t explain the logic of your campaign and answer key questions about it.

These clients will be the first to let go of your firm if they’re not satisfied with your results and actions.

Common Characteristics:

  • On time
  • Orderly and organized
  • No nonsense
  • Results-oriented
  • Values procedure
  • Task-oriented
  • Detail-driven

Likely Personality Type:

  • Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (ISTJ)
  • Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking Judging (INTJ)
  • Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (ESTJ)

To Succeed With This Client: Step Up Your Game

Be organized. Your marketing campaign plan has to be laid out in advance, documented, and submitted for review before you start anything.

Have a timeline. Reference it! Make sure your client knows about delays that will cause a ripple effect.

Document everything. Have somebody take notes about conversations, details, numbers, wants, needs, etc. during meetings.

Be empirical. Rely on data to make decisions. Present all of your data to them. Base discussions on empirical facts. This helps them understand your campaigns and decision-making procedures.

Best Communication Style: Short, Detailed, and Sweet

Be straightforward and precise. These are practical, logical, and efficient people. Focus on sharing facts and details with them. They value short, detailed, no-frills meetings.

Ask them what they need and expect of you. Be sure to let them know what you need from them.

Demonstrate that you know what you’re doing by presenting data and facts. Share how this could affect the long-term picture. These clients think about the present and the future.

Communicate and seek their approval. This type of client likes to feel like they’re in the loop.

Best Assets and Tools to Work With:

  • Data, tables, charts, anything with information at its base.

Do Not:

  • Over-promise. They’re guaranteed to call you on it if you under-deliver.
  • Surprise them or give them last-minute decisions. They don’t respond well to surprises (except good ones) and they will call you out on any deviations from the plan.
  • Give them short deadlines. They require time and detailed information to make decisions.
  • Forget anything. These people are meticulous. They’ll remember details from conversations you’ve long since forgotten.
  • Be vague. They want to know details down to granular level. They care about how this affects their brand long-term.
  • Get personal. They are time-oriented folks who want to focus on what’s at stake in business, not your personal life.

This Client Wins At: Being Reliable

You can depend on this client. They are reasonable and easy to work with so long as you meet their needs.

If you ask something of them they will get it done right away. You can count on them for anything, which makes them excellent business partners.

They are a great resource to use. It’s likely that they know everything about their customers and target market. Focus on getting as much information out of them as possible.

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2. Artistic Geniuses (a.k.a. Tornadoes)

The iconic artist: a genius who is everywhere at once. They have lots of brilliant projects and ideas on their mind. However, they lack the organization needed to implement them.

They mean well and are heavily invested in their company. However, they may have bitten off more than they can chew, or can’t deliver for your timeline.

Their assignments or deliverables will either be late, stray from the initial idea, or be wrong for the campaign you discussed.

Common Characteristics:

  • Imaginative and creative
  • Fast-paced
  • Social, confident, and gregarious
  • Passionate
  • Disorganized
  • Amazing brainstormers

Likely Personality Type:

  • Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ESFP)
  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving (ENFP)
  • Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ISFP)

To Succeed With This Client:

Be diligent with time management. This will help prevent meetings from getting derailed by their creative windstorms and personable nature. Don’t be afraid to reign the discussion in and implement focus.

Draw from their creativity and passion. These folks are very driven. They have great ideas. Don’t be afraid to use them.

Know where to draw the line. These types of people will continuously throw ideas and constructive criticism at you. Take what is most valuable, but be selective.

Don’t rely on them for deliverables. These people tend to have a lot going on. Don’t rely on them. Set timelines that they can actually meet, or get required materials from them completed in your meetings.

Best Communication Style: Organized, Friendly, Firm

Engage with these types of clients on a human level. Part of their idea of success is having a good relationship with their business partners. They value exciting, fast-paced, friendly meetings. Make sure that you have a grip on the conversation direction so you can get things done.

As practical, concrete, and creative people, you should focus on sharing details with them. Stray from abstract ideas.

Show them that you can handle projects on your own. This will prove your value to them. Demonstrate that they don’t need to jump in with their creative genius to make a campaign succeed.

Best Assets to Work With:

  • Lists, project details, human experiences

Do Not:

  • Be long-winded. These fast-paced individuals will quickly lose attention unless the topic of discussion changes often.
  • Be overly formal. These clients are personable and like to connect on a light-hearted note.
  • Give them too much abstract, vague information. These people are creative, detail-oriented thinkers. They understand concrete and focussed ideas.
  • Rely on them for deliverables and tedious tasks.
  • Allow them to hijack the project with their creativity and personable nature.

This Client Wins At: Being Go-Getter Partners

Artistic and gregarious, you will find these partners to be fun to work with and full of good ideas. They want the best for you and themselves. They’ll work hard to maintain a good relationship. They’ll also be up for anything! If you ask them to be a part of your marketing campaign it’s unlikely that they’ll say no. If you have a great, fresh idea, chances are they’ll love it!

Your job is to know how to take their energized spirit and work with it in a productive way.

Impress your clients with insider knowledge on how social media works at successful agencies.

3. Skeptics

Skeptics have a tendency to question everything (especially their colleagues), which makes them solid independent workers.

Sometimes you will run into a client who only works with you because they have to. These types don’t trust your skill until you prove yourself. They’re usually looking for an expert to execute on something they have little knowledge in.

Skeptics will be the first to poke holes in anything you propose unless you support yourself with concrete data.

This type of client thinks that they could do your job better than you (especially if you have a bad dynamic). They are not shy to drop you as an agency if you cannot deliver up to their standards.

Common Characteristics:

  • Critical thinkers
  • Skeptical
  • Independent
  • Decisive
  • Organized and task-oriented
  • Leaders
  • No-nonsense

Likely Personality Type:

  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging (ENTJ)
  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (ENTP)
  • Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving (INTP)

To Succeed With This Client:

Be straightforward. Cut to the chase because these clients aren’t looking for social niceties and friendly relationships.

Speak to the logic. Skeptics are both concrete and abstract thinkers. They think about the big picture, but rely on the how in order to trust it. If you can’t answer critical questions then it’s unlikely that they will trust you and want to work with you.

Have past results to support future plans. Skeptics believe in one thing and one thing only: evidence. In order for these types to trust you, they need to see that you can prove yourself. Show them all the success you’ve had in the past and explain how you can replicate it.

Solve problems with and without them. Skeptics have thought of their own approach and solution before they consult an expert. They’re looking for a second opinion. Ask them about their ideas and integrate them into your action plan. This will help you build trust.

Have your strongest and most positive teammates deal with them. Skeptical clients can be hostile towards weak team members who cannot stand their ground and answer questions thoroughly. Highlight your team’s success and emphasize how tightly you’ve aligned to their business objectives.

Best Communication Style: Cut to the Chase

These clients are objective driven. They don’t care to talk about the weather or your pet rabbit. They want to get down to business in a productive way. Don’t be long-winded in your meetings.

Citing facts will bore these clients and make them think that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Talk big picture and use facts whenever they don’t believe you.

Focus on the big picture. Know your campaign inside and out so when they ask a tough question you can answer it without hesitation.

Best Assets to Work With:

  • Reason, analytics, data, strong character

Do Not:

  • Go into a single meeting without a game plan. Skeptics can sense weakness and use it as a reason not to trust you. Your team should function like a well-oiled machine in front of them.
  • Take things personally. Skeptics will poke holes in virtually everything. Don’t take it personally. They’re doing it because they care about their company (sometimes they do it because they don’t trust you).
  • Drop numbers. The first sign of someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about is vacuous fact dropping. Cite numbers and facts when necessary, but don’t rely on them.
  • Be long-winded. These types of people don’t care for small talk. They want to have concise meetings and will easily lose patience with ramblers.

This Client Wins At: Forcing You to Know Your ?

Skeptics are intimidating, but they will teach your firm a lot of valuable lessons.

After working with one of these clients successfully you will be able to do anything. They will test your marketing knowledge and business relationship skills. You’ll quickly learn from the experience. They’ll force you to know literally everything about their marketing campaign.

You’ll learn how to answer tough questions and leverage empirical evidence to gain client trust, and a lot of future clients will value this.

Get instant feedback and client approval on your Instagram story ideas.

4. Empathizers

Empathizers are great people to work with. They want to develop a strong, friendly relationship with you. They’re your biggest cheerleader and want you to feel proud of your campaign. They want a partner, not just an agency.

Empathizers will do their very best to work with you by providing ideas and words of encouragement. Don’t get lost in their positive feedback. These folks avoid confrontation because they don’t want to hurt others around them. It can be difficult to give them criticism without hurting their feelings. You may never receive constructive feedback from these clients (which isn’t a good thing).

Empathizers want decisions to be made based on feelings, rather than facts. They will push you to agree with them, which could put your campaign on the line.

Don’t breach their trust or loyalty. This will make them re-evaluate your partnership.

Common Characteristics:

  • Friendly and personable
  • Empathetic
  • Open-minded
  • Keen organizers and planners
  • Tendency to juggle too much at once
  • Imaginative
  • Strongly driven by morals and feelings

Likely Personality Type:

  • Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging (ENFJ)
  • Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging (INFJ)

To Succeed With This Client:

Position things in a personal way. Empathizers work hard for causes that they believe in. Frame your projects around things that matter most to them.

Learn how to give emotionally sensitive feedback. Things can get tense sometimes. Some personalities can handle tension well, but empathizers struggle with this. Give them feedback gently.

Be highly personable. These clients value strong personal relationships and loyalty. Make sure that your team is able to connect with them on a deeper level. They will get a lot of value out of this type of business relationship.

Listen to their ideas. Empathizers are naturally good listeners. They also want to be heard too. During meetings be sure to take detailed notes and seriously consider how to implement at least some of their ideas.

Show them how you’re making the world a better place. Nothing is more rewarding to these clients than seeing how they’re making the world a better place. Integrate long-term, positive impact into your proposals and outcomes.

Best Communication Style: Affectual, Friendly, and Big Picture-Oriented

These clients are objective driven. In order to get there, they need to have a strong relationship with your team. Integrate personal aspects into your whole business relationship. These clients will be infinitely grateful to their agency partners who take time outside of work to meet and bond.

Empathizers love big-picture plans that involve genius strategy, a strong agenda, a good schedule, and apt planning. Come prepared to your meetings. Focus on outcomes and how they are benefiting the cause that your client believes in.

Avoid conflict, don’t be harsh, and remain positive. You’ll be able to get through to your client with difficult news, criticism, and team goals much easier this way.

Best assets to work with:

  • Meeting minutes, gratitude, agendas

Do Not:

  • Be short or harsh. Criticism and judgement can be taken the wrong way with these sensitive types. Lay down negative points gently.
  • Disregard their moral compass. They take their personal values very seriously. Disregarding them can destroy their loyalty and make them question your relationship.
  • Allow their moral compass to dictate everything. Morality isn’t always an effective marketing strategy. Don’t allow abstract ideas to dictate your work. Harmoniously balance marketing goals with your clients’ feelings.
  • Allow their lack of criticism to mean that you can’t do your job better. Ask them how you can improve.
  • Focus on the small stuff. These people are big-picture thinkers who like to see results in a positive way. Don’t concern them with the granular level of your project.

This Client Wins At: Opening Your Marketing Heart and Mind

Working with empathizers will teach you valuable teamwork and empathy lessons.

They’ll show you how to make your marketing less about numbers and KPIs, and more about intrinsic impact. Marketing has a tendency to be vanity-metric oriented, and the majority of clients believe in these vanity metrics. For the first time in a long time you’ll have a client who looks past that and teaches you more about genuine human connection as a long-term benefit.

Your team will learn a lot about listening, emotional sensitivity, and how to give feedback in a productive way.


Knowing how to manage the different types of clients doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and energy to learn how to understand different personality types. On top of that, learning how to manage each personality differently is a constant process.

Dealing with different types of personalities is a huge part of working in an agency. Before you master it, you truly need to understand how to build client trust, and communication underlies this journey.

This is a learning process! Take it one step at a time, make notes, and get client feedback.

Which clients do you run into most frequently? How do you manage them? Share your stories with us at [email protected]

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