For creative professionals almost all of their projects have diverse requirements. Which is great but what’s even better is that clients want them to step up the game and be the partner than an order taker.
Unfortunately, this isn’t obvious to the creatives. Why? Because they either don’t expect it or have been burnt by their previous experiences when their ideas were shot down. So now they can’t help but adopt a defensive stance and just wait for the “order” to come through. Which is where it gets interesting — the clients still want to walk you through their thought process, the storyline, and the minor details. And you’re getting irritated because none of that would really matter to you as a designer who just needs to ship a 10-slide PowerPoint design template.
Or so you think. You see, we can’t generalise all projects. As creative consultants, your biggest responsibility is to set expectations upfront. That means, you seek their permission to contribute “as a creative professional” to the storyline and the thought process. Nobody would say “no” to that offer. Even if they do, that’s okay because you still can come up with an alternate version and “show them” what you had in mind.
The client still might reject your idea, which is fine as your agenda is to share your best work without getting too attached to the outcome. It’s not a question of whose idea was better but how committed you are as a professional to fulfil the project requirements.
And you do that by showing up as a partner who’s just as engaged in the project as the client herself. How would they know? They just do. The quality of your questions coupled with your willingness to go deeper into the storyline, the thought process, and the challenges/roadblocks they faced during the project are all indicators that you do care about the client and what’s at stake.
This may sound common sense but it unfortunately isn’t common practice. Believe me, even the folks who think they’re being thorough with their approach to projects are far off. You can tell by the money they’re make off of ad-hoc projects. A thoroughbred creative professional would charge a bomb without letting the client feel they’ve been ripped off. How? By delivering not just what was expected but also going the extra mile as a partner and a trusted advisor.
This might sound ironic but irrespective of your specialisation the most efficient and effective way to build a consistent pipeline of work is by staying curious and listening deeply.