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Or we can go another way...

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Mark SuszkoOr we can go another way...
by on Jan 31, 2011 at 9:56:24 pm

Found this article on the diplomatic ways to tell a client their idea is stupid. It is geared more towards web designers but carries a lot of crossover value to our biz.

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grinner hesterRe: Or we can go another way...
by on Feb 1, 2011 at 1:12:31 am

Man, what a longass pain in the arse. Seriously.

When folks call my place, they already know what's up... hence the phone call. Now most of the time after hearing the schpill, I'm like "sweeeeeeet, soooooo, tuesday?" But really, other times I'm all, "WTF are you talking about? Are you messing with me? Let's not hop on the titanic." You know how many times I've offended a client?
Me either, man.
My job is to bust out some badass money-makin shit. I do that no matter what. I don't care who gets fussy in the process, man, I never have time to. The deadline is like Friday!. STFU, change your freakin mind and give me a big freakin lovin hug Saturday. How's that sound?
This stuff doesn't have to be hard, man. People dance on eggshells till their feet are sore, that's all.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Or we can go another way...
by on Feb 1, 2011 at 6:10:24 am

From the article, a bit I liked:

Speak The Client’s Language

One of the most common problems, especially among freelancers, is an inability to speak the client’s language. Being able to speak in a way that relates to the client’s business sense is crucial at all stages of managing a Web project, but never more so than when challenging a client’s decision.

If you’re trying to explain to a client that a rotating banner (or any other feature) may not be the most effective use of their budget, rather than say something like, “I just don’t think it will work,” or “I’m not sure you have the budget,” ask instead how they think implementing it will benefit their business, generate more quality leads or increase conversions.

Always emphasize the main goals, or KPIs (key performance indicators), of the project. You’d be surprised by how often such a question will result in a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, as the client realizes that they want the feature because they think it looks cool, when in fact they can’t connect it to a KPI.

So much THIS.

I'm rarely in a position where I can be so frank with a client, however, I find it helps to frame the discussion as clarifying questions instead of statements. If you can get the client to try to explain it to you, they may hear the words coming out of their own mouths and realize something is not entirely right. Make it be *their* idea to change something. Very often it is just like the article writer states, an inexperienced client sees something on TV somewhere and wants to ape it, without analyzing what it is about the thing that should be imitated. As the communication expert and problem-solver, you may have to walk them thru the process a little bit, but side-by-side, deferentially, not leading them like a child, which only hurts their feelings and makes them close their minds. Asking what about the context of the example is the same as your own client's usage context is a starting point.

"So, you're liking the way this example spot does a parody of the "Twilight" movies, is that right?"

(Client) "Yeah. Vampires are hot right now, and their spot is funny."

"It certainly is. But it's for ladies night specials at a bar. We are doing a series of spots about a funeral home, right? Bereaved people or people worried about planning their arrangements for the future, right?"

(client) "So, maybe that's sending a wrong message, maybe?"

"I'm just saying, if the viewer is spending all their energy thinking about the comedy and comparing your spot to this other spot, are we giving them enough time, in the 30 seconds, to figure out your specific message, or is it maybe conflicting messages he

Now maybe your specific job situation is such that you're not a creative part of the pre-production process; you are handed the situation as-is and your job is just to execute stuff that's already been decided, as best you can. That's too bad, but it happens. In cases like that, it may help your own soul, if not the client, to spend some off the clock time preparing alternate versions that are better. You might then show those to your bosses and let them make the call, as to if it should be shown to the client or not. Likely not. But the managers, if they are smart, might get inspired to bring you into the process at an earlier stage the next time.

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Mark GrossardtRe: Or we can go another way...
by on Feb 1, 2011 at 8:26:42 pm

Please, please, please tell me you made that vampire themed funeral home spot ...

Mark Grossardt
Video Editor
Clark Creative Group

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Mark SuszkoRe: Or we can go another way...
by on Feb 1, 2011 at 10:46:44 pm

It would have "sucked", I'm sure... but no, that was just a made-up example, for purposes of illustration. I have real examples, but I won't break a confidence with them, it wouldn't be professional.

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Mick HaenslerRe: Or we can go another way...
by on Feb 3, 2011 at 4:43:53 pm

C'mon Grinner, tell us how you reeeeeally feel....

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media

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