Friday, October 17, 2008

Barking on behalf of your dog

I think it was David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather, one of the world's greatest advertising multinational agencies who said, "Don't buy a dog and then do the barking for it".

People telling me how to do my job (on their behalf) is a problem that I encounter almost every single day. It is not that annoying - I'm used to it and, not meaning to be a braggard, I can generally prove to them in a few minutes that when it comes to having ideas, I'm better than them. That said, I have several clients whose creativity and ingenuity is outstanding and I very much enjoy working with them to enhance their concepts.

I also have clients who, no matter how many times I suggest better ideas, don't want me to change a thing. They want it done exactly as they have told me - usually in minute detail. Fine! I'll do it and I'll bank their money. But come on! Why have they come to me really? Why do they waste my talent? Why do they ignore my experience? And quite often, how the hell do they expect their idea to generate any new business?

And what is really annoying is this: They will direct me and instruct me and ignore my advice, but will be very quick to change to a "better" designer when it dawns on them that the idea they forced on me is, as I predicted, ineffective.

Perhaps I should learn to stand my ground. I have, and do so when its worth it. I've also learned not to waste my breath arguing the toss with people who have made up their minds. Like I've already said, I'll happily take their cash, but I also have my pride. When I feel a client is simply using me like a cheap hooker, I'll sling my hook.

But all is not lost. I do have a cure for this problem that works some of the time...but I have to want the client's business enough to use it. Quite simply it is to create and execute, unbidden, my own idea. When put up against theirs, they can see the difference - and the sense.

This quite often works, but there is still a stumbling block: I don't do it to prove myself right. I do it for the sake of the client's business, and for this they can expect a fee. They can see before them their own execution and mine...They have already paid for theirs... they can choose to pay for mine as well, but I 100% own it and its copyright until the money's in my bank. They could (and this is the risk I take) just as easily choose to stick with their own idea and I have to forgo the fee and regret the wasted time.

I want my clients to put their faith in me. I'm very experienced and I have genuine talent that I itch to use. I want my clients to benefit from it. I want their businesses to grow so that they spend even more with me. I also have a testimonials page on my website where I like to display comments from satisfied clients - according to my website's visitor tracking, its one of the most popular pages.

And so endeth the lesson. I have up till now manfully resisted the use of dog metaphors but the urge is just too strong: My clients' tails are usually wagging. Their own ideas are not always a dog's dinner, even if they are barking up the wrong tree. Or just plain barking... But please! If you are a client of mine or any other self respecting creative consultant, please let us off the leash. I had better stop now.

Until next time, I'll take a bow-wow-wow.

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