I always wanted to read a blog post that had some sort of threatening title. I should have probably called this one dealing with clients or lessons learned from my two year old on how to deal with clients in the field of graphic design, but you wouldn’t read it and I’m sure I’m going to fuck you up is a more popular search term with the search engines (look at me, thinking about SEO).
Two year olds
Being the father of a two-year-old boy has taught me a lot. I am not going to go into detail because that would take way too much time (and I am extremely lazy, I’m actually surprised that I am typing this today, it’s sunday for fuck’s sake). Raising Anthony has actually made me a better person (not necessarily a good father, but I’ll get it right with Isabelle). The qualities that I have been able practice are patience (lots of fucking patience, never shake a baby, never), understanding, discipline, routine, and how to have fun.
Clients, can’t live with them…ummm, can’t pay the bills without them. I like most of my clients, some of them I consider friends and attend orgies with, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t difficult to deal with sometimes (always).
So what the fuck do you do?
I treat my clients like I would treat my two year old without talking down to them or making them feel like idiots. clients don’t like being treated like idiots, especially when they are acting like idiots.
client x: When can I expect this? Kind of a rush.
me: Okay, well as long as I can get everything from you that I need I can have this to you pretty quick.
client x: What stuff?
me: Copy, logo, pictures of your product, and anything else you want me to use.
client x: Oh…I don’t have any of that stuff, could you do it?
Ahhh! I get this a lot. I have nothing, but was wondering if you could put together a million dollar campaign for the same price that you quoted me when you thought I would provide this stuff to you, oh and by the way, can I get it tomorrow.
What I’ve learned is to communicate effectively. Instead of getting frustrated and blowing up, I take a minute to explain to the client what my role in this partnership is and what their role is. I let them know that it is important that we each do are own role so that the project runs smoothly and in a timely manner. If the client doesn’t have something I need and refuses to get it to me then i let them know that it can still happen, but the price quoted will change and that it will take longer to complete.
They don’t always get it and trust me this will test your patience, but remember they don’t know better and if you don’t try and educate them in the process, they’ll just frustrate some other designer.
client x: Can I give you a jpeg of the logo? Why does it need to be vector? What’s vector?
This is related to patience. You as the designer need to understand that not everyone knows the terms that you use. Once again it should be your responsibility to educate the client. It may take more of your time, but if you’re planning on having this client for awhile it might be a good investment.
client x: Sorry, but I need these files to the printer by today. I knew about this for a few days now, but you have done last minute jobs for me before and they turned out great.
You should have let them know before that their request was unreasonable, but you let it slide. If you were to say to them now that you can’t do it, 9 out of 10 times you’ll lose a client. I have rules (sometimes pretty unreasonable, why do people still want to work with me?) and when someone challenges those rules I have to make sure that I am consistent, firm and in extreme cases administer spankings.
Pretty straight forward. People like routine (for the most part) if I can make things easier on my client by approaching all my projects the same way then why wouldn’t I do that. Not only will the client be happy, but I’ll be happy because the project will be done quicker.
client x: How’s my logo coming along?
me: Let’s go get shit-faced and talk about it.
client x: It’s 10 am.
They may piss you off, but so does my 2 year old and I still manage to have fun with him. Next time a client pisses you off, blow on their belly. Everyone loves that shit and remember never shake a client, never.
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