Back Off. You’re Not My Client!

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So it’s a matter of record that I do things a little bit differently. I’m a little… edgy is probably the best word. Someone recently referred to me as the “Bad Girl of Marketing,” which I thought was adorable, if not entirely accurate. I’ve been called a “Brat,” which I thought was rad and hence the Marketing Brat moniker. I’ve also been called a lot of less complimentary things that even I wouldn’t put into print (and that, my friends, is saying something).

And being so openly strange and different, I attract a more focused level of “feedback” than many other, more “corporate” marketers. Which makes for some interesting (and intense) experiences.

One of my favourites of late, has been the gleeful berating that begins,

“I would have bought from you … BUT.”

The overall message being:

“You’ve lost a sale, because if you were someone different I’d buy from you.”

And I think the reaction they expect from this comment is very different to the one they get

There are two things that are wrong with this statement:

#1 – It’s a Lie

And it’s the same lie you always hear from people who want to attempt to exert some form of control over you, whether it’s societal, bosses in corporate, your peer group when you were a kid:

“If you behave in a way I approve of, you will be accepted.”

And of course, it’s never really true … it requires compromise after compromise after compromise … to make one person happy. Someone who – frankly – is the kind of person who requires everyone else to change to suit their view of the world.

What a joy they’ll be to work with! Perhaps you can get REALLY lucky and find five or six people exactly like that!

(“In case you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic.” Homer J Simpson)

I call these people: Demandor the Clienator. And their goal is to devour your soul by capturing you in their neon grips …

My belief is that they’re working from their own values – they’re so desperate themselves, that if a “potential client” told them they were wrong, they’d bend over backwards to change.

#2 – I Choose My Clients

I started my business for freedom.

The freedom to never answer to a boss. The freedom to say what I like with no filters. The freedom to go “tatts out” – to be who I am without conforming to anyone else’s idea of who that should be.

I saw someone write the other day that when you start your own business, you’re not really your own boss – because your clients become your boss.

I was like – dude. If you believe that, you’re doing it wrong.

Clients are important and of course, you should over-deliver constantly.

But that doesn’t mean letting them call you when you’re supposed to be at dinner with your family (“I’d be your client, if only you’d take my calls in your sleep … “); it doesn’t mean letting them dictate to you when you take holidays (“I’d be your client, if only you worked 365 days a year …”); and it certainly doesn’t mean changing your values and behavior to please other people (“I’d be your client, if only you were someone else …”).

For no amount of money on the face of this planet can you own me.

Changing the way you market or run your business to please someone who isn’t even a client is a zero sum game. Hell, changing your business to please a CLIENT is a zero sum game!

My game – my field – my rules.

And contrary to what the lack-focused desperados so want you to believe – this has a phenomenally positive impact on your business. More (and better) clients. More money. And probably most important, more fun and less Demandor the Clienators.

About Leela Cosgrove

Leela Cosgrove (AKA the Marketing Brat), is the founder of Strategic Anarchy and Australia’s top Identity Marketing Consultant. Tattooed roller derby queen, punk rocker and Internet Marketing Geek, she swears she’s not nearly as scary as she looks.
View all posts by Leela Cosgrove ➞


  • George says:

    Now that is a refreshing piece in which I agree with and can relate to 100%. You are spot in with the appaulling attitude of ALOT of ‘unqualified’ prospective clients.

    Stand firm in YOUR terms and conditions of trading… They are YOUR terms, not theirs! And remind them when the vocal pitch changes like the bullying spoilt brats they become…

    “This is not personal – is how YOU do business”…

  • Anna says:

    LOVE IT!!! Completely agree with it!

  • Kelly says:

    weird that I read this today after yesterday reading about someone who was interested in what I “have to offer” but was “turned off ” by the word badass in my marketing as it gives such a “negative connotation.” I went by her Facebook fan page to take a peek and was turned off by the horrid marketing I found there. Suffice it to say she’s not my market, yet she desperately needs help. I’ll happily step aside to allow someone else to have this dream client.

  • Leela says:

    Ahhh – I guess, David, one of my hard and fast rules is that your ideal client should probably be someone who likes you the way you are … same rule as in ANY relationship! If you have to be “what they expect” to be attractive, are they really ideal??