The Importance of Client Collaboration
Posted on July 16, 2012 16:55
So, it's the middle of summer and it's downright sweltering here in the heart of the Carolinas. It makes sitting in front of my Mac, in the office, feel like a relief! It also gives me a little time to think about things a little deeper and ponder the accomplishments we have had so far this year. I cannot say enough about clients, but I can also tell you, that sometimes clients are hard to fully grasp. Not in a bad way (though I have had my share of unhealthy client relationships), but in a great collaborative way. I have been on retainer with a great up-and-coming industrial tech assembly tools related company called Rhino Assembly since the beginning of 2012 to handle ALL of their marketing initiatives. The relationship really started back in the summer of 2012 when I was hired to create a great leave behind piece for them. That project took a long time to get through, but when we finally got it done (after the retainer began) it was a sight to behold. It won me Rhino's trust. In fact, I think it truly brought me into the Rhino family as any good retainer relationship should.
This brings me to my point on client/vendor collaboration and how that all works in a retainer relationship. You see, clients need me and I need them. Yes I have an ego and I believe I am great at what I do, but without solid collaboration, it might not turn out quite as good. Clients frustrate me all of the time, but they want to do things right. I have to respect that, so sometimes I start in an elementary fashion. In fact, Rhino held up one of my first concepts for their leave-behind and used it to joke with me about how far it had come. It was pretty funny! They feel close enough to me to make fun of me, that is ALWAYS a great thing, and even better when I feel comfortable enough to make fun of them back! So, we are at that level because of the retainer relationship. The immense chasm that exists between the first concept and the final piece really illustrates the importance of collaboration. Some designers never want to give a client the chance to help create the idea for the winning design, because the client doesn't have a lick of creativity in them, but I beg to differ on this. To me, the nuggets of gold are in the hints my customers give me as I go through the concept phase and on into the final design phase. In this case with Rhino, I simply had to start designing concepts – they gave me a couple of ugly pics, their old logo and told me to create a BEAUTIFUL leave behind. So, I used my skills as a creative to create the first concept (the one used to poke fun at me). They gave me their feedback and bang! I was off to the races with the next several concepts. I fought them on some of the ideas they had and they fought me on some of the ideas I had. Once we got through agreeing and disagreeing, we had a work of art for their leave-behind. I lost some of those arguments, but I am glad I did, because it PUSHED me to go in whole new directions. Sure, I created the final product and my ego remains intact, but I can honestly say that if I had let my creative ego get in the way, the end product would not have been as good as it turned out. Same goes for Rhino, if they had remained stubbornly against some of my recommendations, the end product would have suffered.
I pride myself on this part of any of my client relationships. It is always way more intense and way deeper in terms of a retainer relationship, but it is still pretty intense with a one-off design project for a client. The retainer though, creates an environment to do this in a very beneficial way. We become partners with a client when on retainer. They have our mobile numbers. They text us. They call us at night or on the weekend and we treat it as if we are a major part of their business. The collaboration gets that much stronger in this type of environment!
Another reason for the candid collaboration between me and my client, is that I am not at risk of not being used again, because I am retained. This makes me feel way more secure in my opinions as well as my work. So, if you are pondering a retainer relationship (
even if it's not with us, though it should be!!! - I am opinionated
), I highly recommend you wisely choose someone who believes in unabashed, open collaboration with clients. It is the best route to take if you want your business really humming along into the future. Just make sure you set your expectations with the vendor and make sure they seem easy to talk with and work with (whether it is an account executive or a creative director). You can be sure that if you feel awkward or closed off in anyway with the firm, the creatives or the account person, the relationship is already at risk.
For more info on how we can help you with your creative marketing please
P.S., click on the links below for the "from this to this" designs! Enjoy and leave comments! ;-)
INITIAL COVER DESIGN
FINAL DESIGN (FRONT)
FINAL DESIGN (BACK)
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 8:11 AM
Good advice. Good article.
villa deste italie
Monday, April 15, 2013 2:02 AM
Thank you for the advice.
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