The 20-80 rule

You’ve heard about the 80-20 rule. What about the 20-80 rule? I’m guessing not.

Some time after a running a marketing campaign, which attracted a scant few new clients, we ran into difficulties with one particular new client.

Now, it’s worth prefacing this with an explanation about their particular circumstances. Having spent a large four-figure sum on a major overhaul to their website, in the end, there was almost nothing to show for it. Worse, due to some naivete on their own part — and I didn’t get a complete picture of things — there was no legal recourse.

I came along to “firefight”, which had been about 75% of the work Octane had been doing since 2001; clearing up the chaos caused by a number of web design agencies who seemed to be popping up like mushrooms between 2000-2006 who either failed to do the job or had no intention of doing so.

As you’d imagine, the budget was tight and the profit margin became razor thin. Complicating things further was the clash of personalities, which — for me at least — manifest itself in a fundamental lack of appreciation for the task at hand, its scale, and the challenge of accomplishing much of what had been asked of the previous web designers but on a fraction of the budget.

I didn’t have either the time or the patience for capturing the Moon and putting it on a lollipop stick for a fraction of the price, deliverable by last week. At the same time, a number of other clients had been growing more vocal and more difficult to deal with.

In fairness, these were hard times, but we weren’t doing great either. I came to a realisation — that 20% of the clients were responsible for 80% of the problems we were having, such as:

  • poor lines of communication;
  • late or non payment (I took two clients to court and won both claims);
  • high-maintenance support requirements, but an unwillingness to pay for the service;
  • difficult and obstructive personnel;
  • unethical and immoral business practices.

… the list went on.

It was a difficult a decision to make (not some much were there was a lack of morals and ethics), and more so given the economic climate, but I made the decision to cut that 20% lose, and — over time — reaped the rewards, the most immediate benefit was that we had more time and resources to deal with the work coming from the remaining 80% of the client base.

Photograph from Pixabay.

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