In the ideal world all of our clients would be masters of their own universe — highly qualified, have worked in their jobs for ever, and know their industry back to front; they would all understand advertising channels, and be used to working with agencies and their processes. Unfortunately, the reality is often quite different, and this can be highly frustrating for account managers.
There are many reasons why your client may lack expertise in their own business. They may be:
It is highly unlikely that your client would deliberately use their lack of knowledge to make your life difficult; therefore how should you handle the situation?
Your client knows what they know, but they may not know that they don't know (you know?!). You have a handle on what you'll need to execute your projects and campaigns, so who better to help them through the process (in an empathetic, non-condescending way) than you?
If you can keep the conversation flowing, you'll give both yourself and your client the best chance of getting everything right. Conversation will allow space for questions, realisations and adjustments if required.
Using solid agency processes will help to catch any holes or anomalies in the information supplied by your client. Getting a solid brief from your client, then supplying them with a reverse brief, quote and a timeline with milestones will give your client the structure and game plan for each project. This is a great way to "educate" your client without looking like you are trying to educate them.
We want our clients to be infallible, but they are not. There will be times when they will let you down, as there will be times when you will let them down - guaranteed. A little patience and understanding will go a long way.
A client's lack of expertise will sometimes cause you trouble, but you can do your darndest to prevent this from impacting your work. Is the extra effort worth it? Oh yes - just ask any account manager that has ever reached revision #10 or above!