Guest post by Malcolm Sleath of 12Boxes.
It’s ironic. When so many of us are talking with our clients about engagement, engagement with our own clients is still a big challenge.
The traps are easy to fall into. People in creative services – branding, digital, media, illustration, marketing, social media, and so on – tend to do too much work before starting to charge the client; they lower the value of their work by giving away solutions to client problems in advance; and they undervalue their personal contribution when quoting for a job – or resort to arbitrary day rates that don’t carry much conviction.
For example, people often feel they have to demonstrate how good they are to get work from a client. Some clients consciously exploit this; others simply go along for the ride and see what they can get away with.
The problem is that once a client has been exposed to a creative solution, the value of that solution is reduced in their eyes. Any discussion of value after they have seen it is likely to sound like an attempt at self-justification.
And there are other factors that distract from the question of value. Clients can be easily sidetracked because they don’t understand the technology involved in a solution (or worse, by the fact that they think they do understand it).
Or they find themselves measuring their own reaction to creative output, when it is not necessarily meant to appeal to their own tastes and they should be thinking about the effect on the target audience.
What clients should be focusing on is the value to their enterprise, but all too often that part of the conversation is left until after the creative professional has given away too much work and intellectual property. This inevitably reduces the profitability of the client relationship.
What can be done to overcome these problems? At Like Minds Exeter October 2011, I had the privilege of piloting a new programme called ‘Creative Business Development’. The aim was to help people develop more profitable business by guiding clients to understand the true value of their professional service or creative input. The programme was based on a conversational approach a million miles away from an off-putting ‘sales pitch’.
By all accounts the pilot was a success. (Shortly afterwards the programme was adopted by a large outsourcing and consulting organisation.)
Several people have since told me that would have liked to attend but were not able to commit to the three immersive sessions that the programme demanded. Others, who subsequently heard good reports, were sorry to have missed it.
Now, there is another chance to take a look, this time in central London. During the course of the next few months the Like Minds Club will host free evening seminars to introduce the approach, which is called 12boxes. The evenings are about discovering how to engage and win clients, but the techniques described can also be used to improve the profitability of existing client relationships.
If you would like to know more, this link will lead you to full details and the option to book yourself a place.