Should we do what the client wants?

1 Oct

Well, should we? Because they pay our bills and they should know what they want shouldn’t they? Let’s use the analogy of a painter and decorator. They just paint what we tell them. But if we use an interior designer, we are open to suggestion. It’s the difference between a home that is magnolia and one which is beautiful.

So, are we a client’s interior designers or are we just painters and decorators? Artisans or hired help? I was reminded in a meeting today of what the client whose business we are pitching for is expecting. Oh joy! We know what our client is expecting so surely we can surprise, excite and stimulate their minds by giving them something they are not expecting?

Wrong. We are worried. We need this business (never a good headset to go in with if you want to be truly creative) and we are ticking boxes like it is a prize draw and we want to win a holiday.

IMHO, forget what the client wants and give them what they need. Have an opinion that is different to ‘we agree wholeheartedly with everything you say.’ You never know, they might respect you, even if they disagree with that opinion.

Too often we are told to be pragmatic in pitches and go in with a banker – a dull oil tanker of an idea that excites no one, least of all the public who are expected to put their hands in their pockets as a result of seeing it.

Too often we fail because our work is magnolia, and if we do win a pitch with work that, at best, can be called ‘solid’, how can we hope to steer our the client towards work that inspires us, our colleagues, others in the industry and, best of all, the public?

So let’s not do what the client wants. What the client wants can go to hell. They might just respect us a bit more for it.

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