Getting to Approved: 8 rules for Getting Clients Through a Design Process

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Being creative is hard work but getting clients to agree to the work is tougher. What I've learned about selling interactive work to different kinds of clients, from Fortune 100 to startups. How to …

Being creative is hard work but getting clients to agree to the work is tougher. What I've learned about selling interactive work to different kinds of clients, from Fortune 100 to startups. How to identify dangerous clients that will kill you and how to make getting to approved as easy as possible.

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  • 1. Getting to Approved: 8 Rules for Getting Clients Through a Design Process MeshU May 20, 2008 Toronto, Canada
  • 2. In 1505 Pope Julius called on Michaelangelo for a project he had... the Pope just wanted a small job of painting the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. The Pope scoped the job at roughly 12 Apostles
  • 3. Michaelangelo, convinced the Pope that he had under scoped the job and that what was needed was a much more expansive project that involved representing the key doctrines of the Church.
  • 4. And so between 1508 and 1512, Michelangelo painted over 300 figures resulting in the first recorded case of over delivery by a creative to a client
  • 5. The Vatican was so happy with Michaelangeloʼs first project Pope Clement VII awarded him a second... this project was to paint the last judgement on the far wall of the chapel
  • 6. and so between 1534-1541 Michaelangelo paints this... The last Judgement. But this project is a total disaster. He gets hassled by a junior executive trying to make a name for himself, a Cardinal Carafa and working with the popeʼs Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena (che-ze-na) The Cardinal and the Master of Ceremonies felt that the nudity was off brand for the Vatican... quot;it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully,quot; and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather quot;for the public baths and taverns,quot;
  • 7. Michaelangelo is so drained by the creative battle he paints Cesena into the painting portraying him as Minos king of the underworld. Starting a proud tradition of easter eggs in creative works...
  • 8. and paints himself as an empty shell of a man. Iʼm sure many of can relate to feeling like this after many client interactions.
  • 9. I tell you this story only to illustrate that the design process and its challenges when working with a client is as old as time. I guarantee that when one of our ancestors painted the first cave paintings. Someone told him to make the mammoth bigger.
  • 10. Today Today Iʼd like to propose 8 rules for getting a client through a creative process. I chose 8 because when Mike McDermott asked me to come up with a topic I randomly suggested 8. But also because if I ever want this presentation to be on Digg I need to make it a list of some sort.
  • 11. Rule + Technique I am going to explain the theory or the rule and then illustrate this with some practical examples where possible. In each of these rules there are many techniques that could be employed. I only have time for one or two examples in each. While these rules can be applied to any design process, I am going to use techniques for digital design
  • 12. Pick your client wisely 1
  • 13. This is a display in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It shows Ted Williamsʼ batting average in in every part of the strike zone. Whenever I am evaluating a client I mentally try and put them somewhere in a version of this for us. So for example if we get a pitch for a highly technical build where on time on budget are the most important things to the client and quality is secondary. For us that is a low and inside pitch. We do not want to swing at it. We want pitches where we swing .400. Typically this is done with a new business evaluation sheet. But often those sheets look only at the revenue opportunity. What you want to do is look at it as, can I hit a home run with this client. Then is this client willing to pay for a home run hitter?
  • 14. Tell stories 2
  • 15. Techniques ‣ Tell a creation story ‣ Build on your points logically ‣ Ask questions and answer them
  • 16. Learn from listening These are the people I think tell great stories. Listen to how they get you to an “a-ha moment” then rewind and try to understand how they built their story to get you there.
  • 17. Learn from listening Lawrence Lessing Seth Godin Clay Shirky Malcolm Gladwell Tim O’Reilly These are the people I think tell great stories. Listen to how they get you to an “a-ha moment” then rewind and try to understand how they built their story to get you there.
  • 18. Do not tell a story from top left!
  • 19. Design is subjective 3
  • 20. Design is subjective Experience Client’s trust in decisions I want everyone to embrace this statement. I want you to say it to clients. Clients hire you for your subjective opinion, your design vision, your aesthetic. Be proud of that. You need to be able to justify your design decisions but ultimately that is what they are, decisions. Something Iʼve noticed though is that...
  • 21. #3 Design is subjective Rely on reputation Experience Rely on tools Client’s trust in decisions Early in your career you will need to rely on things external to you to validate decisions Later in your career clients are buying your collective experience and you can rely on your reputation
  • 22. Technique Concept 1 Concept 2 2nd level Home Page 2nd level
  • 23. Technique Concept 1 Concept 2
  • 24. Does your client know what they are buying? 4
  • 25. Be Rewarded Attribution Perception quot;I was rewarded What I believe happened by__quot; Event/engagement What actually happened Cognitive Emotional/Visceral Reflective quot;I understand how I was quot;I feel rewarded, I want to Others will perceive that rewarded and how I can be be rewarded againquot; I was rewarded Credebility Communication Transparency rewarded againquot; Outcome Get Investment (ROI) started Perform Be Get Revise Translation Formal Personal Community Reset Set Goals action (e.g. Rewarded Curriculum Comprehension Achievement Control Story introduced Goals (e.g. redeem) Recognition prestige ties collect) (2ndary) Well- Sense of Sense of Simple? Concrete? Constructive? Epectations Observation Interaction Analysis Satisfying? Exceptional? informed/ momentum? flow? engaged? The increasingly complex the project the harder it is for clients to know what they are buying.
  • 26. Be Rewarded Attribution Perception quot;I was rewarded What I believe happened by__quot; Event/engagement What actually happened Cognitive Emotional/Visceral Reflective quot;I understand how I was quot;I feel rewarded, I want to Others will perceive that rewarded and how I can be be rewarded againquot; I was rewarded Credebility Communication Transparency rewarded againquot; Outcome Get Investment (ROI) started Perform Be Get Revise Translation Formal Personal Community Reset Set Goals action (e.g. Rewarded Curriculum Comprehension Achievement Control Story introduced Goals (e.g. redeem) Recognition prestige ties collect) (2ndary) Well- Sense of Sense of Simple? Concrete? Constructive? Epectations Observation Interaction Analysis Satisfying? Exceptional? informed/ momentum? flow? engaged? The increasingly complex the project the harder it is for clients to know what they are buying.
  • 27. Set a ‘north star’ 5 Projects need a North Star. Something to guide them as you get in the details. People will often use Creative Briefs I donʼt like creative briefs
  • 28. Technique ‣ Create higher level statements of purpose or themes ‣ Make the statement active
  • 29. Crafting a UIP ‣ You can buy stuff at Amazon.com ‣ You can track packages at FedEx.com ‣ You can connect with friends at Facebook ‣ You can at .com
  • 30. Designs don’t fail catastrophically 6 Projects donʼt fall apart catastrophically They tend to happen in small corrections that unto themselves are seemingly innocent but collectively damaging The details are the experience
  • 31. A good experience is rich, something worth exploring, telling others about, and experiencing again. It's overdetermined - or holistic - or integrated. And being integrated makes it (often) hard to explain, since one can't truly reduce an integrated whole to a simple cause. - Mark Hurst
  • 32. Technique ‣ Know how to recognize over rationalizations and internally driven arguments ‣ Changes that smooth over political issues rather than solve user needs ‣ Push back gracefully ‣ Show the impact of decisions
  • 33. It’s theatre 7
  • 34. When done right, incredibly powerful
  • 35. When done wrong...
  • 36. Technique ‣ Use lighting ‣ Lower the lights when presenting creative on screen ‣ Where are people sitting ‣ Have visuals ‣ Printed boards ‣ People need to know their roles ‣ Rehearse!!!!!!!
  • 37. Don’t listen to what the client says 8
  • 38. Donʼt listen to what the client says ‣ Listen to what they mean ‣ Where is the feedback coming from? ‣ What is the intent of the feedback? People will often be very prescriptive in giving feedback because it is difficult for us to have enough awareness of the underlying reasons
  • 39. Can you make that red?
  • 40. Recap 1. Pick your client wisely 2. Tell Stories 3. Design is subjective 4. Does your client know what they are buying? 5. Set a North Star 6. Designs don’t fail catastrophically 7. It’s theatre 8. Don’t listen to what the client says
  • 41. One more thing
  • 42. When I started When I was first hired as creative director I knew I was in way over my head and so I in order to try and bluff my way through my first year in business I bought every book on creative management I could find. Many of the things I talked about today are in these books, in one way or another. But ultimately, getting through a design process is not about 8 rules... its not anything you can really learn in a book or on a blog. It doesnʼt abstract down to a check list. It comes through experience. Knowing how to read body language, being able to listen to objections and understand what is really being said. Getting a touch for the practice. That just comes from doing. It comes from failing miserably. But every day we get a mit more experience and add to that collective subconscious that gives us intuition.
  • 43. Thank You