Great Work comes from Great Clients

I was terrified. I knew we had a great pitch and a winning concept for a national tv station. And I knew that I could still mess it up during the presentation. But I didn’t, I delivered flawlessly. It was great, the perfect pitch for a great client. Then, the wait began. We were the last to pitch in a row of creative studios, but I knew we made a great impression. Finally, after lunch I was called by my client, telling me that we delivered by far the best presentation and the most creative yet elegant solution to the problem BUT… she continued, the committee chose a competitor. I am sorry. Thanks for the great work, we will keep in touch. Then, she hangs up.

Clients go for the least risky version

Yes, the idea was a little risky because it was unseen. But we knew we could get it working, and it would have been the perfect, elegant solution.

Still, we were asking them to take a risk. A minor risk in our perspective; but still a risk.
What I didn’t realize back then was, that clients, in general, are not looking for the best, most epic approach, but rather for the least risky option to solve their problem.

What do you need to create great work?
What I learned was that to create great work, we need great clients. We need our clients to take risks; we need them to truly and deeply trust in us.

Great work comes from great clients. Clients that see us as an investment rather than an expense. Clients that follow our lead and take on personal risks to support us. They do this because they trust; they trust in us.

Sure, that makes sense. But where can we find that hidden species of trusting clients? Well, the thing is that it is not up to our clients to show greatness. This is our responsibility.

Your responsibility
Everything we do, say, or show serves the sole reason of building a relationship with our clients. Think about your portfolio, your references and your presentations. The way you talk about your competitors, and the way you treat people. Reflect on the goals you have for your projects and your clients. Whom do you serve, your clients or your ego?

Our conclusion to this is straight forward. We present our capability; we show the best work and some polished images on our websites; Impressive creative and artistic work that we hope will get us enough attention to be
Somehow we all know that clients only come to us if they believe that we are trustworthy and capable; when they believe that we can help them.recognized by potential clients.
We even skip the part where we talk about the goals and the winning strategy of the project. We believe that our pictures,animations and films speak for themselves. After all, it is the best we ever produced. It is awesome!

The funny thing is that we believe that this behavior will actually start a relationship. A relationship where the client is supposed to call us.
And our conclusion is clearly wrong! We waste a perfectly great opportunity to establish a relationship.

»You need to earn trust through the way you behave, the way you treat people and the way you inspire people to do their best work.«
–Jim Antonopoulos

The bigger the client, the more prestigious the project, the more assurance our clients need. They want to trust us, but they also need the assurance to invest in us.

The answer to “Where do I find clients?” 
Ever thought about why most jobs in the creative industry come through referrals? Relationships are the answer. Once you get referred by a fellow designer or studio, part of the trust that is rooted in that relationship is mirrored onto the new connection. Our creative industry functions on networks and referrals.

A relationship built on trust is the reason why some studios and creatives can charge manifold what others charge. They understand that their clients want to be listened to, they understand empathy, and they know that their obligation is to serve the client truly. They know that it is about helping others and not serving their ego.
They are not that much better–we all have the same resources and only 24 hours in a day. No, they charge more and end up with great work, because they took the effort to build a great relationship based on trust. A relationship they can pull on to get clients to take small, calculated risks. They know that a significant connection to clients sets the foundation for great projects.

Those creatives, studios and agencies are more interested in a long-term client relationship and don’t obsess about short-term gains as so many do. They know that great relationships will end in great projects and happy clients.

This is the reason why some creatives excel, while others still blame their clients for messing up their art.

• • •

I need your help to launch my book. (read more here)

I am writing a book about clients, what they look for, where to find them and how to pitch to them. Similar to what you just read. 

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This January, I will be speacking at the CATALYST 2018 | Amsterdam event hosted by /REVTHINK/.