A bold statement I know. But I have been involved in enough agency pitches and product projects that have gone one way or another to feel like I can provide some intel that might, or might not be, useful to you.
Context: I will mention 'client' a lot. The majority of my experience is working in agencies but even within them, or when working client side, I treat those who are asking me to work with them on something as 'the client'. It could be a manager or a colleague but it helps to keep that line. They want my help to solve a problem. The process is going to involve some conversations, and some confusion as we might not understand each others language, but if we stay mindful of that fact we go through the process together and solve the problem.
Choose your battles.
I don't know if I read this, or if someone told me it, but its great advice. Work hard to turn 7s and 8s into 9s and 10s. If you have a 3 or a 4 then don't worry (too much) about turning them it into a 9 or 10 - it's not going to happen without an insane, and unprofitable, amount of work. If you are
I've worked in half a dozen or so agencies - all pretty desirable with long lists of awards for their creativity and design skills. But the truth is even they have plenty of 'money' jobs (3s and 4s). Clients who don't want cutting edge work - they just want something a bit better than their competitors. To entice them to make the leap from this mindset towards something more exciting has probably been tried and failed and it cost time/money to do so. The challenge is trying to sort these clients from the clients who are up for doing something bold. I think the best agencies I have work
So my advice is choose your battles. Try not to make every project 10/10. That is the road to madness if you ask me.
Conversation vs Doing
Some clients (the ones I don't really like if I am honest) want you to turn up at the 1st or 2nd meeting and blow their socks off - having essentially Done the hard bit. They expect
So what are the alternatives? You could refuse to pitch on these jobs - but if that is your bread and butter that's going to be a hard sell. My favoured approach has always been to turn up and explain your creative & production process in more detail - and be strong about it - the clients you want to win are the ones who respect this approach. The ones that just want to 'see it' are generally the clients that everyone hates.. Later down the line, they tend to be the clients that to say things like "I'll know its done when I see it" and shit like that. So yeah - do some of the initial research sure (not too much) but be clear that a project is a relationship, not just a transactional delivery. Give them some examples from other industries is always a good shout. Would a builder build a house without using their experience and digging into what you need? A crap one would. A good one wouldn't. And you would end up with a house that is likely to be unfit for purpose - or worse case be dangerous and fall down on your head. Why bother having all that experience if you just turn up and start firing random shots hoping to hit a target.
Summary: Try not to burn any bridges but have a go at moving towards a better way of doing things.
Set the goal
So you've had the conversations. You understand reason for the project and problems you need to solve. It's time to explore the creative goals.
Clearly, a good place to start. What do you like? What do they like? What are the competitors doing? What do websites, apps & projects (outside of their specific industry) look like?
This is always the beginning for me and if done well can become the bedrock for a great project & relationship. I've been asked at this stage to pin down these conversations into some sort of design brief or goal. For me, its never really worked out. The document is created and never looked at. It's a step that didn't need to be there. My favourite approach is to print out a bullet point summary alongside some mood boards and stick them up somewhere the team can see them. Take them to meetings with the client when reviewing in the future and point to them. Those are the things we agreed to aim for! Let's push towards them. It's far to easy to have a PDF hidden in an email or an Invision Board on a URL and to never see it again.
Probably my favoured approach. It's visual and you can go really deep if you need too. My tips for
Be clear and specific. Ask in plain english for what you need to progress.
I've never had any success with style tiles - maybe I am just not a fan of the approach or I haven't had a good tutor in this area. Internally if you have a product team and they are working an agile process 'maybe' I could see it working. In the land of Agency and Client, I don't think anyone understands it. It's too meta and they don't tend to have the systems to translate style tiles to their wireframes and into a final piece.
More coming soon...
Thats the end of this ramble for now. I need to go and enjoy my weekend but I want to get this written down before my day starts 🙂
Published by: Rob Millington in Interactive