Be a Creative Partner to Your Clients

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Be a Creative Partner to Your Clients

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What is a creative commodity and is it a bad thing? Well, that depends where you’re trying to go in your career. I am of the opinion (shared by Jackie Goldstein who was the guest speaker for our webinar How to Avoid Becoming a Creative Commodity) that it’s vitally important in this economy to establish yourself as a creative partner who doesn’t just do the work asked of him, but asks questions and thinks creatively (no kidding) about how to solve the ACTUAL problems of the client.

The client wants a brochure? Why? Who is their target audience and will they read a brochure?

What does the client’s website look like? How are they (mis)using their brand? Of course it’s easier to coast along and just do what is asked of us (and surely many clients are not interested in finding a partner and just want something done) but that doesn’t make us stand out from the crowd. And there IS a crowd.

So what are you going to do to stand out? How will you show your value to clients?

There was a flurry of activity on Twitter during Jackie’s webinar and the tweets are a great way to understand the questions we should be asking ourselves as well as our clients.

Special thanks to: @LindsayBrennan, @erinmharris and @edfredned. The following tweets are mostly as-written with just a few minor corrections.

Don’t be concerned with those cheap logo services. Their clients aren’t yours
Your story is part of your brand, and your brand is what differentiates your value from others.
You want to focus on results, not design issues – focusing on favorite colors, etc. makes you a task-completer, not an expert.
(And, to be fair, a client’s favorite color is pretty much always irrelevant, anyway.)
Ask questions that show how you think AND how you listen.
Note your first impressions of the people, the logo, the office, their website, etc. It’s often very telling.
Show clients what it’s going to be like to work w you in the first meeting. Startle them.
Build an army of people behind you. They’re not competitors, they’re teammates.
Don’t minimize what you do by talking about tasks. Focus on results and how you can help them achieve those results.
Design is not about decoration, it’s about communicating.
Great question: ask the client “how will things be different at the end of the project?” Love that.
Share w new clients how you’ve helped create results for past clients.
Ask the clients how they’re going to measure success. (Can’t determine success without a way to measure!)
Find out if there are any relevant deadlines to the project (product launches, tradeshows, etc.). It affects the timeline.
Ooh, love this, too: Ask WHO you’re going to be working with and HOW you should use them. Then the client is assigning roles.
Discuss your work in terms of how it solved the clients problem, not in terms of the tasks you completed to do it.
Change the conversation from pure execution to problem solving then it’s less about artist’s “style” and more about “results”
Agreed – use ACTUAL dates in your proposal timeline, not “four weeks from,” etc. Gives a more concrete setup.
Oh, great idea: in terms of objections, talk to the client about the cost of NOT doing the project (or not NOW)
Ask questions that will differentiate you.
Build a network that offers valued resources to your clients. Join a membership org.
Walk away from the crazy, whether they’re clients or dates. Amen. 🙂
Set up your payment plan based on DATES, not deliverables. This helps you avoid getting screwed by stuff beyond your control.
“I would love to work on your project but it has to work for me too”

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