In my colorful career adventuresthroughouth the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few truly exceptional clients. Not surprisingly, they each shared certain favorable characteristics that served to make our business relationship a mutual success.
I’m a conceptual person, a writer, editor, wordsmith and such. I have also worn the hats of creative director and project manager. So, my perspective of an exceptional client might be different from yours, but perhaps not.
The Exceptional Client …
Knows what they want
It’s possible, but not preferable to start a project with little or nothing to go on. It’s a blank page. In this case, I call it “give-them-something–to-change”. It’s not very efficient and slows things down, but it does get things off dead center. But, oh how delightful when the client knows exactly what they want or even almost exactly. You have a roadmap and a flashlight.
Knows what they don’t want
As the saying goes, “Everyone’s a critic”. But, if the client knows what they don’t want at least you can avoid a few pitfalls and get closer to the goal. It’s so much better to know it early on rather than in the final review process.
What a joy to have clear communication! They read your emails and respond to them – quickly. These people are accessible, mobile, concise and polite.
Understands what you do
If the client hired me to write and edit, then they are confident I can do the job. They understand what it takes to develop a concept, extract value propositions, create content that engages, entertains or educates – or maybe all three. They have a good idea of what I do and what I can do for them.
Respects the process
The process encompasses the big picture of any project. If the client and all team members respect each stage of the process, then equal support is given across the life of the project. It can be accomplished without the client, but so much more cohesive if the client is on board throughout.
Respects the skills and dignity of each team member
The client may or may not understand what each person’s role is on a project, but it’s important that they respect the skills and unique contributions of each individual. Preservation of each person’s dignity is important to the exceptional client.
Understands the value of creative freedom
Without creative freedom a project is doomed from the start. The concept, the content, the visuals or anything else that goes into creating something fresh must have creative freedom. This is where you step outside your comfort zone. You can always reel it back if need be.
Provides constructive criticism
It’s music to my ears to get constructive criticism. The exceptional client cares about a win-win relationship and contributes to the process with valid, helpful comments that add value.
Knows when to step in
If a giant red flag is flapping in the wind and sirens are going off because the project has taken a downhill slide into oblivion, yes indeed, the exceptional client knows that this is the time to step in. (This rarely happens).
Knows when to step back
If the job is on track, moving through the necessary phases of completion, but somebody has an issue with coding or the SEO needs refinement; maybe the video you’re going to embed on the site isn’t ready – any number of slowdowns could pop up. This is THE best time for the client to step back and the exceptional client will do just that.
The creative process isn’t easy. It’s challenging, exciting, even overwhelming at times. But it’s the best thing I’ve ever found for keeping the ‘little gray cells” alive and kicking. When you have the luxury of collaborating in the creative process with an exceptional client, well, you’re fairly close to nirvana.