The other day I was watching an interview with Rob Chiarelli, music producer and engineer extraordinaire. (Sample clients include Christina Aguilera, Will Smith, Madonna and Leann Rimes.) The interviewer asked how Rob resolves creative differences — which are bound to run high when dealing with superstar egos. His response is spot on:
“They’re paying me for my opinion. They’re not paying me to fight.”
It is not uncommon for designers and marketers to adopt a “holier than thou” attitude. How about you? Are you fighting with your customers? After all, the client came to you, and clearly they are paying you for your expertise. How dare they question your methods and solutions! Heck, I’ve seen clients get duped by the designers who are the biggest jerks, excited to pay for someone that talks down and belittles them because it means the designer must be tuned into his creative vision. Um, no. The guy is just a jerk.
It’s true, we do have the training, knowledge and experience to execute a well-thought out marketing campaign. But we don’t know everything, and we certainly don’t know what our clients need as much as they do. One of the joys of working in this field is the opportunity to continually learn about different industries. We only scratch the surface though. The challenges faced by our clients are often similar, but the nuances can be quite different. We rely on our clients to educate us about their marketing struggles. We offer solutions based on past successes and experience. At the end of the day, our recommendations are opinions, and the client is not paying us to argue with them. By all means, offer your expertise, and don’t be afraid to dig in when you have the analytics and data to support your opinions. Just be sure not to leave your next client meeting with a black eye.