What clients want from design firms Matt 27 Oct 2005

17 comments Latest by xiaochunpi

Consultant Joe Grant has interviewed thousands of companies that buy advertising and design to find out what they really want in their relationships with design firms. The answer, according to HOW Magazine’s What Clients REALLY Want, is communication and trust.

Some of the article’s (mostly common sense) advice: Whoever’s going to be responsible for the project must be at the new-business presentation. Never say, “We don’t do it that way.” A client shouldn’t have to call your office to ask where you are on the project. Think of a client relationship as a “trust account.” Always anticipate and be proactive. And so on.

17 comments so far (Jump to latest)

REHarlow 27 Oct 05

This is past common sense and into the realm of “duh”. That doesn’t mean that these keys are followed. Just like I know I’m not supposed to supersize my fries (duh), but I still do.

Rabbit 27 Oct 05

Lame read. The part about:

If your client wants invoices twice a month and your office manager usually generates them only once, change your system.

I disagree with. Why? I just do. :)

The site looks like it was designed by a bunch of “junior” web developers anyway. What’s with the 10px copy and putting ‘::’ in front of everything?

Then we have this rubbish:

You should be hiring people at the same level of sophistication as your clients.

If that were the case, I wouldn’t be working where I am. Instead, our clients would enjoy the company of 16 year olds who dig big ass photoshopped graphics and trendy flash. (Those sorry bastards…)

*sigh* Yes, I’m a disgruntled developer…

Megan Holbrook 27 Oct 05

This is past common sense and into the realm of “duh”.

A lot of it was obvious but it was well-stated, and serves as a good checklist for firms that prize their strong relationships with clients. After all, who wants to have to keep repeatedly /selling/ their services when great client relationships can lead to effortless referrals?

I did have a concern that the “Be Easy to Work With” could be taken a little too far:

If your client wants invoices twice a month and your office manager usually generates them only once, change your system. If they want status reports in two copies, one in pink and one in goldenrod, get to Kinko’s for that colored paper.

If your firm has a /rational/ methodology for how they approach certain tasks, then rather than just acquiescing immediately to a client request that could be time-consuming, you should try to educate the client as to why you work in a specific way. If the client still wants the task to be done differently, then that’s the point at which you can decide whether or not it is worth changing your methodology…and also whether the client is going to be a good fit for your firm. If there is friction in small requests, there may be other long-term issues with the relationship.

MMI 27 Oct 05

I have to agree with some of the comments above, if you customized all your processes to every client that came through the door, no work would ever get done.

I’m actually surprised to see this on 37signals. I know one of the questions that always gets asked, is “How do you get clients to agree with your philosophies” (as in getting real, less software, etc) Your answer has always been - we only work with clients that trust us to do things that way.

JF 27 Oct 05

I’m actually surprised to see this on 37signals. I know one of the questions that always gets asked, is “How do you get clients to agree with your philosophies” (as in getting real, less software, etc) Your answer has always been - we only work with clients that trust us to do things that way.

We didn’t write the article, we’re just linking to it as many people will find it interesting.

We still believe you need to hire the right clients.

Anonymous Coward 27 Oct 05

I disagree with. Why? I just do. :)

I agree with you. You can just go and change your whole business process because a client thought it was a good idea. Like anything, it’s a give and take relationship but ultimately the vision of your own company is more important than someone else’s.

Anonymous Coward 27 Oct 05

I disagree with. Why? I just do. :)

I agree with you. You can just go and change your whole business process because a client thought it was a good idea. Like anything, it’s a give and take relationship but ultimately the vision of your own company is more important than someone else’s.

Keith 27 Oct 05

I agree with everything in there. Sure, most of it is common sense, but “common sense” = “easily forgotten”. Thanks for the reminder.

sabrina 27 Oct 05

If your firm has a /rational/ methodology for how they approach certain tasks, then rather than just acquiescing immediately to a client request that could be time-consuming, you should try to educate the client as to why you work in a specific way.

Agreed. What I’ve found is that often, when clients ask for things to be done differently, it’s because they don’t understand that we do things a certain way because we’ve found that’s the most efficient, effective way to produce a quality product. We don’t simply do things “our way” for the sake of doing them “our way.” Being flexible and responsive is important, but clients also need to remember that they hired a team of experts for a reason and maybe that team knows what they’re doing.

Steve Portigal 28 Oct 05

The thousands of interviews seems a bit unbelievable, doesn’t it?

Davezilla 28 Oct 05

The point about changing the invoice paper is fine if you’re freelance, but try telling a major advertising agency to change its invoicing system for one client. The icy stares you get from Accounting will stop your heart in 30 seconds.

Anthony Robbins 29 Oct 05

Keep in mind, the article isn’t necessarily about what agencies should do, it’s what clients want them to do.

While it’s mostly a lot of common sense, it does serve as a great reminder. Common sense is surprisingly uncommon.

Jim Leonardson 03 Nov 05

I could write a whole article on number 8. “Execution is everything”- really? Then why don’t agencies pay Production Artists at a level consistent with this responsibility.
They make the Art Directors and clients look good, and win awards but they are treated like factory workers. At least factory workers get overtime pay.

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