To stay relevant and keep up, we designers are apt to learn new software, keep up with design and development trends, and spend hours perfecting the “creative” side of our craft. But as my career in interactive art direction progresses, I find it even more important to focus on the clients’ needs and supporting my account teams as they work to provide outstanding solutions—from service through delivery. This is what led me to Robert Solomon’s book, “The Art of Client Service,” and the 58 things he says every advertising and marketing professional should know. Let me share the five most relevant points that stood out the most for me.
1. The Triangle of Success
The Triangle of Success shows the relationship between trusted client relationships and great work. All teams within an agency must work cohesively with the client to have a successful relationship and deliver successful work.
2. Live the Clients’ Brand
I love this concept and anyone in marketing can agree—the best way to understand a client is to dig in and learn all you can:
Below is a quick list showing how to “live the client’s brand”
- Know the history of the company. Know the people who work there. Observe the Culture.
- Talk with other people who buy the brand. Ask them why.
- Read what the press says. Pay attention to opinion leaders.
- Form a point of view on the company and the brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
As a designer, I love having this information to jumpstart the development of unique creative solutions.
3. Always Think Endgame
We all lose sight of this once in a while. Design ideas, creative concepts and technological whiz-bang mean nothing without considering the main goals of the project. A great test of a solution is to this: If the components of the solution don’t fit with the endgame then there is still work to be done.
4. Bring your clients into the process early
This seems obvious, but there are plenty of agencies that run with strategies or creative concepts without getting the client’s perspective early. Involving the clients along the way has helped us make the client feel like “part of the team,.” This allows for a healthy dialogue and leaves the client feeling satisfied that they have been heard.
In the end it also keeps creative folks happier too. It is easier to change direction early on than to redesign something late in the game because we missed the mark.
5. Listening is more important than talking
I have learned this the hard way. I started out my career straddling account services and creative. There were times when I overwhelmed the client with art history, technology, or strategy and forgot to stop and listen.
Seeking feedback continuously throughout the project ensures our team stays on track. The simple exercise of “Project Discovery” helps clearly define what the client needs and results in more accurate work.
“The Art of Client Service” gave me a new perspective on how to approach my work on a day-to-day basis. Great design is nothing without a great concept, but without the right client service, great work never gets to see the light of day.
Thanks to all my account team colleagues who wrangle the client and deal with us creative folk and our outlandish ideas.
And to our readers, what other aspects of Client Services do you think are essential to creating great work together?