I'm one of the directors of multiple digital marketing and creative design/development agencies in the UK. This doesn't happen particularly frequently but this week, I found myself in this scenario.
We have one existing client which are a local business to us. They sell a type of product which they design and manufacturer themselves. We designed, developed and branded their responsive eCommerce website and currently host it.
Let's call them client X (x for existing).
This week, we received a referral within the SEO industry and another eCommerce business selling the same type of product but not exactly the same because client X design and make their own. This business is ready to start work with us, has a starting monthly retainer budget and wants to proceed asap.
Let's call them client N (n for new).
The only revenue we currently generate from client X is monthly hosting and perhaps the very infrequent off job here and there on their website. They do however want to start doing some marketing/SEO at some point soon (no idea when this may be though).
Client N however is ready to start working with us immediately and has a budget at the ready. If we were to begin working with client N, there would, at present, be no conflict of interest as client N would want great visibility for their products on the web whereas client X don't currently hire us for this particular service however if they were to start this up in a few weeks, then conflict of interest becomes very likely and we'd find ourselves with two clients that want to be found on the web for the same products and would essentially be competitors.
Originally, I was going to instruct our team to turn down the new enquiry explaining that we already have a client in the same niche and wouldn't be able to work with them as well but I'm now thinking why shouldn't we take them on as a new client - as it stands, our existing client don't pay us for marketing their business - but we did play a huge role in their online presence, brand and business growth.
Is it a conflict of interest to take on multiple clients in the same niche?