Using the 34 CliftonStrengths to Understand Your Marketing Clients

This simple tool will provide helpful character types

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Jan 21 · 6 min read
Photo credit: Nappy

Imagine going into your next marketing meeting and having the entire team complete a CliftonStrengths personality assessment. Now your boss — who excels at Strategic Thinking and Relationship Building — can finally recognize why you’re losing your mind every time she procrastinates. And now you — who excels at Influencing and Executing — will understand why she’s so persistent about analyzing every possible outcome before completing a project.

You consider her a slacker. She knows you can be blunt. You can’t deny that you have Command personality traits, and your contumacious personality means you’ll always struggle with having a boss. She knows she can get caught up in Ideation and be the reason projects are always behind schedule. Now because both of you know more about how you two work instead of just what projects you’re working on, your day-to-day relationships should be able to flow easier.

But what happens when your marketing team is working with clients — people who they can’t coax into taking personality assessments? These are people paying you who can choose to not work with you as soon as your work is not up to their standards. (Technically your boss can too, but that decision would have to factor in unemployment, justifiable termination, etc.)

While it’s nice that your reps have someone with a workflow of Harmony and Positivity, your client is paying for the bottom line. So how can your marketing team work with clients they barely know and avoid ruining the relationship in the process?

Pay Attention to the Client’s Past Battles With Marketing Teams

Let’s say you signed a new client who is unhappy with his prior marketing company. He complains that they weren’t “effective” — even though his company still made a profit (or didn’t). This client consistently gripes about how the last team had an, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Whenever the client wanted to try some new marketing idea that was on his mind, this old team would shy away from it. Meanwhile, this client has a zillion plans about what could possibly make the company better and generate even more revenue. He gives your marketing team these new project proposals and wants them implemented immediately. And when you’re done with those ideas, he has more.

From this behavior, your client seems to be more of a Futurist — someone who has exciting visions of what could be done if people would just give these ideas a chance. The last thing you’ll want to do is keep rejecting or ignoring his thoughts for your marketing team’s “better” ones.

Even if your new client’s ideas are impractical, you’re better off explaining how you can test out Idea A instead of dissecting the problems with Idea B and Idea C. Don’t bother trying to explain to this person why you want to stick to what works. Your client has lost interest in your hesitancy and will probably come to the conclusion that your company won’t represent him well. He wants to see his new visions in motion. You’ll lose out on his business altogether if you don’t at least try something new.

Photo credit: Nappy

Respect Your Client’s Concerns

If your marketing team is one who likes to wait until everything is “ready” to show any kind of results, you’re going to have a helluva time with an Achiever client. Luckily, you can figure out fairly quickly who this client is. This person wants to know how and when things are getting done. She loves a detailed checklist with due dates and sub-tasks. Matter of fact, even if she knows she’s completed something on her own checklist for your company, she’ll still add this task just so she can cross it off.

Marketing teams should take advantage of their most detail-oriented and organized staff members for this client. She is just not going to be patient enough to wait until presentation day and spontaneous meetings to confirm your team is working on a project. She isn’t so much a micro-manager, but she does want to know the status of the workflow. Use project management software like Basecamp or TeamWork so this client can quietly poke her head in every now and then to see who is currently working on any given assignment.

Make Sure Your Client Is Happy

Some clients love a good get-together to chat about what they did all weekend, how they’re feeling, and what’s new in their lives. They want to pull out baby photos and introduce you to their significant others. Meanwhile, your team is full of Responsibility and Focus workers, so mingling with this client and trying to be social butterflies may prove to be tough. He wants to know what type of people you all are and feel comfortable around you. Meanwhile, your team is watching the clock and thinking of all the things they could be getting done right now instead of forced laughter and empty smiles.

These workers are visualizing the pile of work on their desk and probably didn’t want to come to this networking event in the first place. If your whole team doesn’t thrive in the art of networking and soft skills, it’s time to send in your best Woo to work the room.

This person will probably be the face of the company and the liaison when there are hurdles, and it’s generally a good idea to have this people-pleaser on your leadership team. He will be someone that everyone (both clients and your marketing crew) will feel comfortable going to when there are problems. And your Woo leader will thrive in this meet-and-greet environment.

Using Clifton’s 34 Themes to Improve Your Team

When employees are hired, their resumes usually say they’re qualified to do the job. But it’s their actual personalities that often become the breaking point in employment. According to their total 34 themes, Clifton Strengths let team members understand why they do the things they do. They can also help you avoid adding team members who simply don’t gel with your clients.

If you’ve got a couple of clients who are into Competition, you can be pretty confident that you won’t have to chase this client around or deal with serial meeting cancelers. They’re always trying to beat their competitors, win awards, and have bragging rights. They’ve got their empty frames ready to hammer into the wall and tell anyone within hearing distance why their company is the best. So your team needs to also have someone who actually enjoys staying in the industry loop, not someone who couldn’t care less about posing for first-place award pictures or going to galas.

On an individual level, if you know what type of marketer you are, you’re that much more likely to recognize what jobs work best for you and which ones don’t. While you can’t control your client’s behavior, you can control who you take on as a client. Keep their behavior, as well as yours, in mind before signing any long-term contracts. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and avoid quite a few miscommunications if you know what you’re in for.

Would you like to receive Shamontiel’s Weekly Newsletter via MailChimp? Sign up today!

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

15-year vegetarian journalist/editor; part-time dog walker and dog sitter; Toastmasters member and 5x officer; WERQ dance and yoga enthusiast;

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade