Many of us have experienced a challenging relationship - as client or supplier. I will address the issue from the supplier side but I am sure each of us has experienced both sides of the relationship at one time or another!
We are invited to develop marketing or advertising materials and as such we undertake a thorough and professionals review of the company we are trying to help. We spend time researching products, services, customers, company culture, etc., and we then present creative ideas or marketing programs that respond to the needs identified by the client.
Ultimately the client simply disregards what we have presented and decides arbitrarily how they want to proceed. The client, in their position of authority as the payee on the project decides that they will forge their own creative or the details of the marketing program, regardless of the logic presented.
It happens a great deal and the size of the company or the project has little to do with it. Left brain people tend to be those in charge of companies or organization because of their business acumen and linear reasoning skills. Marketing and advertising tend to use a more creative lateral thinking process and as result make more use of right brain thinking.
Challenging a client to move beyond linear reasoning and understand the need to tap into the emotions of their customers is an important part of the success in a creative project. Convincing clients that they need to look at their products, not from their own needs, but from those of their clients is one of the most difficult demands of a marketing project if it is to be successful. I would take the time here to define success as not just getting paid for the project. Success for marketing or advertising must be defined by the success the client realizes through sales and customer awareness.
If you are defining your success on any project based by getting paid by the client then you are not truly a marketing or advertising professional. You have to be prepared to walk away from a client – to stand behind your convictions, your research and creative intuition, if you and your client are to be successful in any marketing initiative.
Walking away from a client or standing firm on an idea based on sound logic will result in one of two things – losing the client or gaining the trust of the client. Let’s take a quick look at “losing the client”. I would suggest that losing a client who seeks to implement their ideas of marketing on a project, to the detriment of the project are often clients who are more concerned about cost and the certainty of their own perceptions in marketing. Typically the relationship with this kind of client thinking is short and there is little opportunity for a relationship to grow beyond this current project. Often you will spend more time and effort satisfying this kind of thinking with poor results. “Gaining Trust” based on mutual respect has many positive benefits in terms of a longer term relationships, repeat business and the success of the project - not to mention the satisfaction you feel when your ideas prove to make your client more successful.
When is it time to stand up and be counted? Well that all depends on the preparation you have undertaken to ensure that your ideas are sound and the client understands the ideas and the research that supports those ideas. Working with clients that want to work with you based on a mutual respect of roles and knowledge is the key to a successful relationship and a successful project.