When Clients Think They Are Smarter
… don’t they think that way all the time?
Oh yes, they do. But it’s not their problem; it’s human nature. We all think we are smarter all the time. We all think we know something more than the people around us. And it’s fine, as long as we know when to step back and act stupid – sometimes.
It could be a blessing (or a curse) for me to master graphic design and copywriting at the same time. Clients can come to me as the one-stop solution where I can provide artwork and copywriting for one whole campaign. That way they don’t have to communicate with so many parties to get things done. But it’s also a curse when clients take me for granted simply because I am double-skilled. Most of them always ask for a buy-1-free-1 when they enquire for my service. The remaining of them think that they could do a better job than me.
“I pay you for the graphic design, you throw in copywriting for free. How about that?”
“Give me a package price for both services, afterall the entire project is yours.”
“It’s just a circle with words in it. I can do it with powerpoint for you. Charge me lesser for this.”
“You do the design, I will write the copy myself and email you later…”
Except that the copy which usually ends up in my email is barely usable with spelling errors, grammar mistakes and wrong sentence structure. If I use it in the project, my portfolio would be a disgrace. But if I don’t, what do I do? It’s tempting to just re-write the entire thing so that the whole project is portfolio-able. But what about the charges? The time spent? The brain juice?
Yes, clients can be smarter than we are, but definitely not in our area of expertise. That’s why they hire us in the first place, because we are good in what we are trained to do and we are smarter than them in our area of expertise. Here are three steps I take when clients think that they are smarter than I am.
- Remind them the reason you are hired in the first place. Let them know that you are a professional in your field and you can certainly offer the best you can give. And to harvest the best of you, they should let go and let you work your magic to the project to make it a success. Always offer them your professional views and advices, and remember that they have the right to decide for themselves after that. The key is to remind them of the very reason why they hire you in the first place, and that would usually do the trick to un-smart them.
- Remind them that compromising quality for expenses is not a wise step. In the effort of saving money, a lot of clients find loop holes to cut down costs. Some think that if they can write the brochure themselves, they get to save money. If they get to draw the logo themselves, they get to save even more money. But it’s not true. They are actually wasting money because their compromise might fail the entire project. Having crappy write-ups and grammatically wrong sentences are not professional and will not work despite it being presented in a superb fantastic layout.
- Work things out with them – for your benefit and theirs. If they are facing financial or budget restraint, work something out with them. Explain the consequences of their ‘acting smart‘ (in the most polite way, of course!). Discuss how you can work with one another to come out with the best solution. With a little give and take, chances are the problem could be solved easily with both parties smiling at the end of the meeting.
Your clients may be smarter than you, but they will never be smarter than you in your area of expertise. If things really can’t work out, you have to re-consider if you want to take up the job – if it’s worth your time and reputation. Remember, you don’t need a ‘smarter‘ client to grow your business; You only need clients who hire you because they believe in the values which you can provide to them.
Originally written by Gina Yap Lai Yoong © 2010