We have all had them at one time or another, and no, I’m not talking about chicken pox. Just as annoying however, is a stubborn client that doesn’t seem to like anything you deliver. Yes, it’s hard to hear, but some clients will not like your designs as-is. While you may feel like saying, “thanks but no thanks,” and cutting your losses, you don’t need to give up so quickly. Instead, try these strategies designed to encourage your client to come around on your design. Heck, if you are thinking about dropping a client it is worth the gamble!
The intellectual approach
If you know that one or all of the proposed designs are a good fit, try to explain why you chose the approach you took with each design. This isn’t the time to skimp on details. Details are going to make the difference. You are the expert, so tell your client that you are looking out for his or her best interest. My favorite line to drop on a client is, “If you don’t succeed, I don’t succeed.” This usually helps your client understand that you are a serious designer and also helps build trust. Have your client review your designs and encourage them to choose one of the options provided.
Start with the basics
It may be annoying, but go over what you are designing with your client. Who is your target audience and what impact do you want the deliverable to have on the end user? What is the budget? Explain how each proposed design meets the criteria you and your client have already discussed. This should help clear up any preconceptions your client has. Maybe it’s just a quick color swap or a font change to fix it to his or her liking. Bring your laptop to make on the spot changes. (This is the most common approach to addressing my clients’ concerns.)
The real world
Use real success stories to support your work. If you are designing a logo, find logos that are successful and relate to your design. Be positive and talk about the success these companies have had. One man’s success story can be your clients “aha” moment. Have a positive and confident tone. Success is easy to sell, but you have to believe it first. It’s okay to sell yourself!
The Bait and Switch Method (last resort!):
So you delivered a few designs and your client hates them. When you asked your client what he or she liked or didn’t like about them, your client doesn’t really give you an up or down answer. No worries, you can handle this! Tell your client you think you know what he or she is looking for in the most confident voice you can muster and tell him or her you will be back in a day (or week, or month, or whatever).
Come back to the table with three designs. One design that fits whatever misguided idea your client had, (it might be a bad design, but that’s okay for this purpose,) and two designs that you think fit best. These can be designs you have already delivered. Talk your client through the best one first, and explain why you did what you did, go into deep detail, sell this design as if your life depended on it, (if you are broke –it does!) When you get to the dud, tell him or her you that you were trying to match what he or she wanted, but (as they can see) that idea doesn’t showcase the intended goal as well as the other designs do. The cards are stacked in your favor. It should be easy at this point to encourage your client to choose the design you want.
There you have it. Four life experience tips from someone who has been through it before. Don’t let your stubborn client deter you from providing them with something amazing that will help their bottom line. With a little convincing and your own persistence, you can win over your client. Remember, YOU are the expert. It’s about time you start acting like it.