How To Deal With 4 Of The Toughest Types Of Clients

Have you ever heard this from a client?

"If you can do this one for half price, I'll give you plenty of more work down the road."

Or what about "Let's just make sure you get all of the statistics about our organization in the film."

Then there is the lovely, yet impossible, "We want a recruitment film, but it should also grow our mailing list, and perhaps get people to Facebook and Twitter too!"

The list goes on.

Difficult clients will find you at every point of your filmmaking career. But knowing how to respond to each type helps to preserve both your profit margins and your sanity.

Watch this film to learn about the 4 main types of problem clients (and what you can do about each):


Now let's dive into each type of problem client.


The Public Service Announcer prioritizes statistics over story. Rather than letting you create a moving film, they want nothing but facts and features throughout.

How to handle them?

You need to educate the Public Service Announcer on story.

It’s proven that story converts better than stats. Many studies show that simply sharing a story about one person is much more effective than trying to share all of the complicated statistics about an issue. Take the time to discuss what story is, why it works, and how it helps to drive action. 

Check out this blog post if you want to dive deeper into why story converts better than statistics.

Blind Pilot.jpg

The Blind Pilot has no direction. They want a video, but have no clue where they want it to go – and they don't want to help you find out where it should go.

They just want you to get ‘it’ shot, without ever really defining what ‘it’ is. 

How to handle them?

Here’s the thing with the Blind Pilot, if you don’t have a destination in mind, well….then there’s no way you're going to end up somewhere you like.

Always start with the end in mind. Try to work with the Blind Pilot to come up with a one-sentence objective for the film. Once you have an objective, you can start making decisions with intent – and you'll create a film they actually love, instead of a film they passively accept.

Penny Pincher.jpg

The Penny Pincher prioritizes budget over story. This is one of the most notorious types of clients….the one who offers you more work, or better work, or other work...something else if you’ll just do this ONE piece for less (often heartbreakingly less).

How to handle them?

With the Penny Pincher, it’s critical to assert your value right now. Your first rate with a client will affect all of your negotiations with them – this is because people have a tendency to “anchor” the value of your services on the first price they see.

Rather than a discount, simply reduce what you’re offering to them, as a way to match the proposed budget. Do less, for less.

And if you really do need to give a discount, make sure your contract reflects your full rate – with the discount clearly labeled. This helps to create that anchor at the proper value, and the client will appreciate the full value of your work.


And The Shotgunner has too many calls to action. They want one film to accomplish many different goals...and as a result, they make your job impossible.

How to handle them?

Here is the thing to remind the Shotgunner: if you say too much, you end up saying nothing at all.

Ever heard of the paradox of choice? It’s an idea in psychology that fewer options are actually MORE effective, if you want somebody to actually make a decision. When you reduce the number of possible outcomes for a customer, you help them create a more clear path to move forward.

When working with the Shotgunner, help them understand that choosing one clear action for the video will deliver far more results than a series of smaller actions. Always work with your client to have one clear action they’d like from the video you create.

Which type of problem client do you run into most? And what have you found as the best way to handle them?

Comment below, and share your advice with the community!