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Clients vs. Customers: Which One is Better for Your Business?

By The Leadpages Team  |  Published Jan 28, 2023  |  Updated Oct 06, 2023
Leadpages Team
By The Leadpages Team
Clients vs. customers

Businesses always talk about how they want more customers. But would they be better off with clients?

You’re forgiven if you don’t know the differences between customers and clients. To many, they mean the same thing. However, while they’re very similar, there are a few key differences that could have significant implications for your business.

In this article, we’ll compare clients vs. customers and discuss why one is more valuable than the other.

What are customers?

When people say “customer” they’re usually referring to someone who purchases a product (either physical or digital). They have an immediate need, find a product that satisfies that need, purchase the product, and then they’re done.

More often than not, customers are people who make one-time purchases from you and then you never see them again.

What are clients?

Generally speaking, clients are people who purchase professional services. They have a long-term need and require an ongoing service or solution from someone they can trust.

While customers are one and done, clients provide you with dependable revenue for months, years, or even decades.

Essentially, all clients are customers but not all customers are clients.

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What are the pros and cons of customers?

Customers might seem like the less preferable option, but they’re not all bad. There are a few key benefits that make dealing with customers a little easier:

  • They require less convincing: A one-time purchase generally isn’t a big commitment, which makes it less risky. As such, you’ll usually have an easier time getting a customer to say yes to your offer.
  • Sales happen quicker: Because they take less convincing, they also usually make up their mind quicker. This allows you to move on to the next sale.
  • They don’t require a personal touch: Customers aren’t usually going to need to deal directly with you or your team so you don’t need to personally reach out to them. In fact, a lot of the time, most or all of the sales process can be automated.

That being said, dealing with customers comes with some obvious downsides:

  • Revenue is less dependable: Customers usually buy once and then leave, so you can’t count on them coming back. This means your revenue will fluctuate from month to month depending on how many new customers you can bring in.
  • More money spent on marketing: Because you always have to find new customers, you need to keep spending on marketing. This can drain your resources, especially if you have a down month.
  • Harder to grow: Every time you gain a customer you’ll likely lose a customer, making it difficult to grow your business.

In the end, you’re trading an easier sale for a less profitable purchase.

What are the pros and cons of clients?

When it comes to clients, the benefits are clear:

  • Dependable ongoing revenue: You get paid on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. This helps stabilize your income and makes it easy for you to project your revenue into the future.
  • Less churn: Clients are more likely to stay with your business for an extended period of time. This means you don’t have to spend as many resources finding new business.
  • Easier to grow: Because you’re less likely to lose clients, every new client represents business growth. Having a stable group of dependable clients makes it easier to expand your operation and bring in new revenue.

But just like customers, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of:

  • It takes longer to convert leads to customers: Clients are making a bigger commitment, so you’ll need to spend more time earning their trust before you can make the sale.
  • It’s harder to automate sales: Since they’ll be doing business with you for a long time, clients will likely want to talk to you or a member of your team before making a purchase.

Overall, you’ll probably have to work harder for the sale, but the benefits are worth it.

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When it comes to clients vs. customers, which is better?

The answer to this question will depend on your goals and the type of business you want to build. However, in most cases, building a group of long-term and loyal clients will be better for your business than constantly cycling through customers.

Basically, when we talk about clients vs. customers, what we’re really talking about is recurring payments vs. one-time payments.

Building your business around recurring payments provides you with a consistent income and makes it easier to grow. You’re not constantly searching for a new customer to replace an old one—you’re searching for the next client that will take your business to the next level. This frees you up to focus on the future, rather than worrying about maintaining the present.

How to build a business around clients

So, you’ve decided you want to go after clients instead of customers. That’s great, but how do you actually attract and retain those clients?

Here are a few tips:

Start small

You can’t expect someone to become a client right away. As we’ve discussed, it takes time to build the level of trust required to invoke such a big commitment. You need to start small.

This is why many entrepreneurs utilize lead magnets. These are free products or offerings that are accessed by submitting an email address. The user receives a free piece of content that hopefully solves one of their problems (and also introduces them to your brand) and you receive their email address so you can start building a relationship with them.

Clients vs. customers

Another tactic to ease people into becoming a client is a tripwire offer. These are low-cost products that are usually offered right after someone downloads a lead magnet. For example, if you have a $100 course you could offer the first lesson for $10. Assuming your tripwire offer provides value, they’ll feel a lot more comfortable signing on to become a long-term client.

Offer group training and webinars

You might be wondering how you’re going to make make a personal sales pitch to all your potential clients. One way is to hold free group trainings and webinars (these also serve as excellent lead magnets).

With this strategy, you can make your pitch to multiple prospects at once, which is a much more efficient use of your time. You can also demo your products and services, and answer questions from the group.

Clients vs. customers

Most importantly, make sure your training solves a problem for your audience. This will go a long way toward establishing your authority and earning their trust.

Offer personalized services to your best customers

As we established earlier, clients are usually people who purchase professional services. So, what do you do if you sell products?

One way is to offer services that complement your products. For example, if you sell a video course on how to build an at-home business, you could offer personal business coaching as an additional high-ticket item (or group coaching if want something more scalable).

This is something your most serious and dedicated customers would likely take you up on. It helps them gain even more access to your expertise while allowing you to grow a solid base of loyal clients to build your business around.

Now, instead of your online course being a one-and-done product it acts as a gateway to your professional services.

Build a community

The one thing about clients is they often require a lot of attention—but that attention doesn’t always have to come from you.

One of the best things you can do to both add value for your clients and take the pressure off of yourself is to build a community. This could be a Facebook group, Discord chat, forum, or any other place where your clients can get together to chat and share their experiences.

Clients vs. customers

You’ll find that not only will your audience enjoy the camaraderie, but they’ll also be able to answer each other's questions and provide assistance. In fact, your community members might even share knowledge or provide solutions that you wouldn’t have thought of.

These communities are often a paid add-on, making them another source of consistent and dependable revenue. They’re also more hands-off than personalized services, which results in a great return on investment.

Clients vs. customers: the final verdict

The debate between clients vs. customers will really come down to your personal preference and how you want to run your business. However, the advantages of building a client-based business are clear, and if you currently serve customers you should at least consider adding services that attract long-term clients.

Looking for a platform to build your client-based business around? Leadpages has everything you need to reach your goals, including over 200 professionally-designed templates, a Drag & Drop website and landing page builder, and a complete conversion toolkit to help you turn visitors into leads.

Try Leadpages free for 14 days and build an online presence your clients will love.

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Easily create your website and landing pages with the only platform engineered by marketing nerds.

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