Working with clients is always a difficult task. Each client is unique, has different needs, and wants to feel that you are working in their best interest. However, clients are too often unable to articulate what it is they really want.
On the other side of this spectrum is the customer who is too confident with their abilities to create an idea and communicate it to you. No matter how hard you work, if you can’t nail down an end goal, than the project is going to be difficult. What is most important for you, who wants to get return customers and even get good word of mouth, is to help the client help you by communicating clearly.
Start With Their Goals
The first thing you really need to nail down when working with clients is what they want the end result to be. I am a video producer, and when someone says their goal is a video for a commercial, I know there’s more to it. What is the message you want to convey? What tone do you want? And so on.
In my experiences, I realized that clients don’t ever really know what they want, or they lack the skills to properly envision an end result. But they don’t know this; they think they have it nailed. What you need to do to help them with their marketing strategy is to get them to tell you what they want, and then put that into an end vision that they can sign off on.
Use Terms They Understand
One difficulty when working with clients, especially those who might be overly confident in their abilities to execute what you were brought on to do, is speaking to them so they can understand you.
Anyone can pick up jargon here and there, but it is up to you to pick apart what they want so you can accurately articulate it. Again, in my field I have had plenty of people throw out terminology that they thought they knew the meaning of, but as I get to work, they then say “no, I mean…(something else).” It’s not that they are inept or stupid, but they have in mind what they think the term means. If I don’t redefine to them what I understood their request to be, then I could get to work on a project that my client won’t be happy with.
Ask them questions, and make sure that they are completely clear with you, so you can in turn restate that information to make sure it is correct. It is a simple task of being thorough and making sure all bases are covered.
Trust Your Skills
No matter what you are being asked to do when working with clients, you were brought there to do a job because you are skilled. When a client doubts you or your process, take time to explain to them what it is you are doing and how that will look as an end result. If people don’t understand your process, or think you’re doing something wrong, you sometimes have to kindly reassure them that you are a professional and that the work will speak for itself. Again, sometimes overly confident clients think they know best, and you have to remember the goals you discussed and let them know how you are working to achieve that goal.
Communication really is key when working with clients. If you want them to be happy with your work, you have to make sure you’re on the same page, and you can’t do that until you know what they want. It’s not always as easy as it seems, and a lot can get lost in translation. In the end, remember that even the most difficult clients will come back to you if you do a good job, and you can’t do a good job until you get the customer to tell you what they want. Overall, trust yourself, trust your work, and let your end product speak for itself.
About the Author
Jordan Mendys is a blogger and media professional from North Carolina. He blogs for Dx3, HBOWatch, and other sites dealing with social marketing.