the opinions and musings behind the expertise
It’s just what I asked for, but it is not what I want
Posted: April 23, 2013
Have you experienced the client phenomenon in which you follow the creative brief to the letter, laboring long hours to produce something that makes you so happy and self-satisfied that it’s almost like an out of body experience? Then you present your genius concept to the client, and they admit: this is exactly what I asked for. And they proceed to trash it, leaving you shell shocked and feeling almost completely inadequate.
In my career in both digital and print advertising platforms for some of the largest companies in the country, this has been an unfortunate and all too common experience.
After spending months analyzing and digesting a client’s mission, goals and objectives, the product of many discussions around their business strategies and sales models, it all culminates in that one presentation, that crucial submission that showcases all the work your client, you and your team have put in. And then your reward is to hear those magic words: It is just what I asked for but not what I want. Nothing quite prepares you for that moment.
I have always thought that there had to be a better way: an approach that would mitigate this type of risk.
As we began to develop the concept of OPEN Communications, that challenge nestled at the forefront of my thoughts. Could a more open client-centric process be the answer? It would have to be more than window dressing: it would have to be genuine, substantive. Making the client the very heart of all development work without the barriers and walls we like to put up around how we get things done. Engagement would be critical to the exercise. We must be more open to reach out and to listen every step of the way. Getting to know them as people, understanding their preferences, their comfort zones, their hopes and fears.
Good relationships require a lot of work — just ask my husband.
They allow us to anticipate potential pitfalls. They make for deeper, more genuine ideas. They inspire more confidence in challenging convention. They make for better product.
Great campaigns are driven by the buy-in from both inside the company as well as outside. And both are critically important for true success. If your organization is solidly behind what you are doing, your chances of getting it right are that much stronger. From the marketer’s standpoint, it also allows us to challenge the ideas that the client has about their own business, about the path to success. It creates a confidence to engage and beat their competition and rise to the top of their game.
Relationships. Tangibly real, and open, and honest. It is how you can get a client to say “It is just what I asked for and it is just what I need.”