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Setting Boundaries with Clients: Combining Market and Social Relationships

Setting boundaries with clients involves more than just knowing when to say no. You also have to know when to say yes, and when to make exceptions. This article explores the realm of boundaries when it comes to meaningful relationships with your clients.

How to Protect Yourself AND Support Clients You Care About

Is your business client-focused?

Are you passion-centered?

Are you relationship-oriented? 

Then you need to read this because your business faces a unique challenge:

Where do I draw the line between market and social norms? 

What do I mean by this? 

I’ll explain with an example. 

Thanksgiving is coming up. Let’s say you’re hosting a Friendsgiving and you’re stoked to cook for all your friends. 

But buying ingredients for a feast costs a fortune! So when your friends ask, Is there anything I should bring, you decide not to brush them off with a cutesy little, “Just bring yourself!” 

Instead, you ask them each to bring $10 to chip in for your expenses. That’s not very much, right? But just a little contribution will really make a dent in your shopping costs. 

All your friends arrive with the $10, but they criticize your cooking all night. 

This turkey is too dry. 

The cranberries are too sweet. 

You’re like, wtf just happened? 

setting boundaries with clients
When your friends don’t like your turkey

The problem is, you just put a market price on something that used to be purely social. Now, here’s a better solution:

You host the Friendsgiving, but instead, you make it a potluck – everyone brings a favorite dish to share. Everyone shows up in happy spirits, complimenting one another’s dishes and making memories. 

This happy arrangement takes the market out of the equation, and you still don’t have to break the bank. 

How Friendsgiving Relates to Setting Boundaries with Clients

Imagine if your client approaches you and says, “I’ve lost 50% of my business due to COVID. I can’t afford to pay you the full amount for your services. Is there anything you can do?” 

You can respond in two ways:

1. The market response

“I’m sorry to hear that but the due date is this week. Maybe you have some friends who can loan you the money?”

2. The social response

“I’m sorry to hear that. I’m happy to work out a different payment plan. Would it help if we postpone the due date to next week? 

OR…

“I’m happy to lower the monthly payments to make them more manageable for you until it’s paid off.” 

While I’m not saying you should let people overstep boundaries and walk all over you, I am saying that relationship-focused businesses do need to allow some leeway. 

Is that something you’re willing to deal with? If not…you may as well slap a corporate logo over that picture of your face on your bio. Detach yourself a bit. Take away the ‘personal brand’ and replace it with just ‘brand.’

Because the mixing of market and social boundaries is a delicate line. Once you bend it too far in one direction, it’s hard to reel it back.

How Friendsgiving Relates to Your Copywriting

The fact is, Copywriting isn’t just about writing sales pages. While sales pages and high converting launches are the main bread and butter of your business, every interaction with clients is a form of copywriting. 

For a launch to be successful, you need to cultivate all the aspects of the launch:

  • Your social media channels
  • Emails
  • Ads (if you go that route)
  • Private Messaging

Copywriting pops up in all the nooks and crannies of your biz.

setting boundaries with clients

If you want to show up as your authentic self, each one needs to represent you accurately. 

Copywriting is how you present your brand to your audience. If you’re constantly posting about alignment and authenticity, I challenge you to dig a little deeper and decide what that means for managing your economy. 

You can’t be super authentic and caring one minute, then Devil Wears Prada the next.

What Does Digging Deeper Look Like?

There’s no firm answer to this question since it really depends on how committed you are developing your brand personality.

But here are some great ways to start your self-exploration journey. 

Make your own rules.

You send all your clients a contract, right? Well, make a contract for yourself to refer back to. Ask yourself, 

“How will I handle it when a client wants me to do more work than we agreed on?”

“How will I respond when I client can’t make their payment on time?” 

“How will I describe my program when a potential client asks me about it in the dms?” 

Bounce your ideas off someone else. 

There’s no shame in asking other entrepreneurs how they manage different situations. See what they’re doing and try those ideas on for size. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to let yourself off the hook. You need to put thought and work into exploring your values. But if you don’t think you handled the conversation well the first time, don’t be mad at yourself. 

This whole thing is an experiment, and it’s all about seeing what works and what doesn’t. 

Get help when you need it. 

You don’t have to struggle along on your own. When I do your copywriting, I help you through some of those questions. In our kickoff call, I’ll ask you the deep questions about why you’re in this business and how you truly want to help people. 

I have a questionnaire that gets down to the nitty-gritty of your brand voice and personality. Answering these questions helps me write your launch copy, but it also helps you be more aware of how you’re setting boundaries with clients and how you’re showing up consistently. 

If you want that for your next launch, hit me up for a strategy call

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