Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Arguing Gets You


I have argued with clients before. I have seen other creatives argue with the client. I have even seen account people and agency presidents argue with the client. And here’s what I have learned:

You cannot win an argument with the client.

Why? Because it is the client’s money that’s been spent. It’s the client’s job and reputation that are being put on the line. So no matter how idiotic their rationale may seem to you, you can’t really win an argument with the client.

That doesn’t mean roll over. I’m not saying be the artless hands of an irrational mind. But don’t argue.

If you argue enough, the client will ask to have someone else put on the account.

Or you will lose the business entirely.

It’s hard to do great work when you don’t have an account to do great work for.

If their reasoning really is stupid and you combatively point out the gaping flaws in their logic, they may yield to you, and you’ll end up getting your way. But they’ll resent you for it. And it will affect your next project, or whether you work on the account again.

Communicating takes more effort than arguing. Helping the client see your point of view takes more effort than trying to put the client in their place. Understanding the client’s point of view takes more effort than being unyielding on your own.

I’m not saying compromise your creative integrity. Just don’t think you’re above the client just because you’re an artist.

You have to be 100% willing to yield to the client. That doesn’t mean yield to them 100% of the time. It means you have to understand that it’s their money, their decision to work with you, and their campaign. Being open to compromise doesn’t always mean letting the work become terrible. It can mean that. But it doesn’t always have to. Occasionally, it can mean making the work even better.

Sometimes you’ll want the client to fire you. That’s okay. Sometimes you’ll actually fire the client. That’s okay, too.

The goal is to do great work for people you like. And you can’t do either if you’re arguing.

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