From Client to Raving Lunatic

Have any of you had a perfect relationship? Me either.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m my wife’s best fan, a cheerleader for my kids, a rock of support for my parents, and a generous neighbor, but I’m well aware that none of those relationships are perfect.

That’s because, inevitably, we don’t see eye to eye.

My kids expect me to drop everything whenever they ask. My neighbor expects me to chip in for cutting down the tree that’s on their property. My parents want me to fly out for a week to help them clean their basement.

These are unreasonable expectations. And clients can be unreasonable, too.

I was reminded about this today as I went through the news. A manager of a doughnut shop, here in Austin, got national attention for making the unreasonable real.

Here’s what happened.

A customer, named Jia, is going through a therapeutic intervention where he wants to get rejected. Sounds masochistic to me, but what do I know?

So he walks into the doughnut shop and says, “I want donuts, linked together in the shape of Olympic rings, colored appropriately, in the next 15 minutes.”

He knows it’s an unreasonable request. He’s looking for rejection, after all, so he’s made the request as crazy as possible.

Then Jackie, the store manager, goes in the back, works away for 15 minutes, and comes back with an Olympic logo, made out of doughnuts.

And Jia gets it for FREE!

He was blown away, goes out to social media, starts a petition to get Jackie promoted, raves about her everywhere he can, and within a few days, the story is in the national news and the doughnut shop is filled with new customers.

There’s a lesson here for solopreneurs everywhere.

Doing the unreasonable turns clients into raving lunatics.

Whether or not you like it, clients ask for the unreasonable. They want revisions done on Sunday. They expect you to show up to a conference call at 6 a.m. They want you to drop everything, drive to the airport, and meet them for drinks.

(All of these have happened to me this year, by the way.)

So, when you get these requests, you have a choice. You can say Yes or No.

Many established copywriters might tell you to say No. After all, you don’t want your business to consume your life, you need to establish boundaries with your clients, you need to preserve order.

But I tend to choose Yes. Why? Three reasons.

  1. Solving problems builds relationships. True story: my wife and I worked together for six months, never really noticing each other, and then one day, I drove over to her house, which was out in the boondocks, to help her set up a wireless router. As I stood there, fiddling with settings, she said to herself, “I wonder what it would be like to date him?” Fourteen months later, we were married.
  2. Solving unreasonable problems turns clients into raving advocates. They will talk about you. Wouldn’t you want your clients to rave about you on Twitter? That’s happened to me twice, and in each case, I saw a spike in website traffic ― I was getting noticed.
  3. Raving advocates help me grow my business more quickly. Enthusiasm for what I do translates into more projects, better pay, and higher satisfaction ― for me and the client.

So what will you do when you’re faced with unreasonable expectations? What HAVE you done when faced with unreasonable expectations? I welcome your thoughts in the comments!

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Published: December 4, 2012

1 Response to “From Client to Raving Lunatic”

  1. Hi Brian, I watched the same video. Great lesson to be had...apart from Jia's original intent. I wasn't aware of the buzz it created, but I had the same reaction...if I lived anywhere near that Krispy Creme, I would gone and bought a dozen. The power of Yes!

    Alan SteacyDecember 5, 2012 at 9:45 am


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