Voicing Your Opinion To A Client

While working with a group of designers and programmers today, we had a little powwow about a new site design which led to some interesting conversation about managing clients and when it is appropriate to voice your opinion about staying with the design and strategy choices of a project to clients. This made me start thinking about how client relationships differ from shop to shop while reflecting back on shops that I’ve worked at.

One ad agency that I’ve worked at had a rather interesting approach that seemed to work for them when voicing their opinions and ideas about projects to clients… and honestly, I kind of applaud them. Their take on taking bad client suggestions/requests and turning them down stemmed from the phrase, “we were hired as an advertising agency because of our years of experience and sound, proven tactics.” In a nutshell, when a client whom thought they knew a thing or two about advertising decided to suggest a change to a project’s collateral whether it was a brochure, TV spot, or Website was based on irrelevant information, or purely personal preference, they were quick to point out that they were hired as their advertising and marketing agency, and that they advised strongly against such changes because of the goal of the project and the research method of attaining that goal. Surprisingly, that worked about 90% of the time. There was still 10% that said, “my way or else,” and they were just as fine to step aside in their argument and do as the client requested.

A common problem among many agencies across the world is when to say no to a client. My take on it, is very similar to that advertising agency I once worked for. I’ve been doing what I was hired to do for quite some time, and have experience, knowledge and sound, proven logic behind the decisions I make for my clients to help them meet their goal and overcome any hurdles between getting their products or services to their customers. However, there are times when dual input actually enhances a project and its effectiveness in meeting the goals and overcoming those obstacles. I have on several occasions suggested moving a project down one path, had a client respond with a request to move down another path, and after a meeting where both sides gave case-in-point examples, we were able to form a new path together with ideas from both sides coming together to form a plan that actually turned out to produce more results than either previous plan of achievement would have produced.

It is when we take all things into consideration and look at the marketing challenge with open eyes that we are able to take an idea, no matter how bad or good it may seem and look at it objectively and be able to see it for what it is and make rational, strategic decicions based on the objective and the plan of action to meet that objective. When you’re able to separate personal bias and “he’s paying, so he gets his way” thinking, you’re able to come to a well positioned strategy to meet the needs of the business.

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