What’s the difference between a customer and a client?

There is a critical difference between customers and clients. It’s not just semantics, but the difference plays a significant role in the ongoing and continued health of your business.

A customer, whether it be an individual or an organization, places a single or occasional order with you. We refer to them as walk-in customers, as they typically walk in off the street, call you, or place an order online.

A client places orders on an ongoing basis. Within the awards business, they often have standard monthly, quarterly, or annual awards orders. Many like to order the same product repeatedly and expect you to create a standard layout for them.

Clients are often obtained through meeting buyers at networking events or by calling upon them at their office. They are the heart of your business.

We have designed our business around the “client” customer base by participating in networking organizations like chambers and calling on organizations of all types. We appreciate the walk-in business and provide excellent service to them, but we don’t spend our resources advertising or searching out customers. Besides networking, we have used mailing campaigns directed toward businesses, non-profits, military, religious, and other organizations.

Our products and services are designed for specific organizations’ needs, and we even selected our showroom location to cater to organizations. We are located in the business district on an easy-to-find side street. If we wanted to focus on the walk-in customer, we would have gone with a main-street location where we could use signage to attract potential customers.

You might want to take a look at your business from the point of view of your desired or chosen customer base. Are you building a business based on ongoing clients or the walk-in customer? What products and services do you offer? Where are you located? Do you have the right combination of location, products, services, and marketing for your intended customer base?


Bob Hagel

Bob Hagel and his wife Dana offered a full line of personalized products using laser engraving, sandcarving, and full-color UV direct print on products for nearly 20 years. The pair sold their 17-year-business Eagle’s Mark Awards & Signs in September 2020. Bob remains an expert in the awards, recognition, and signage industries while he enjoys retirement.

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