After talking about teamworking on my last post, this week I’d like to focus on doing that with clients and helping them help us find their vision and what they want to say. Contrarily to when you go into a shop where you just buy whatever you need, you may already imagine that producing stuff like papers, presentations or infographics for someone else requires some additional steps, and, as always, lots of communication. As a disclaimer, I haven’t been in contact with any of the clients directly, but I have experienced the process by being kept on the loop and constantly informed on the feedback provided and the stuff discussed in emails and meetings.
From this experience of working for a private company for the first time, I would summarize dealing with clients as a constant discussion of ideas. After the initial meeting in which the client presents the project, we start working on it and send the first draft. Then, another meeting; the client gives us their opinion and any modifications or add-ons they deem necessary. This feedback can be quite open and in the shape of not being so sure about something or envisioning something different, rather than a clear direction of wanting it exactly like this. Consequently, this asks for brainstorms between the writers and designers to find a new solution without compromising the information to be conveyed. In this step of developing new versions I have found crucial the help and vision of the designers: whilst if I’m working on an infographic, for example, and get told that the format or the arrangement is not exactly right I feel sort of stuck with that vision, designers are able to find 7 alternative ways to portray that idea. Another trick to overcoming vague feedback is asking the right questions and, although as a Good Millennial I will always prefer emails over calls, a short meeting with the client to specifically ask what works and what doesn’t or the main message they want to portray can avoid a long chain of emails which eventually result in more questions than answers.
Given the amount of work that goes into a project and the back and forth of adjustments, the process is long and can be dragged for weeks, but the wait is worth it once you see the end product and compare it to the ones that came before it, seeing the different details that have been added by both parts. A layer of complexity and struggle is added when clients don’t exactly know what they’re looking for, like what they want to say or how they want to portray themselves or that specific product. Not having a clearly defined project (in terms of format, tone and language, length, etc.) is quite confusing at first: you don’t really know what you should do, and they don’t really know what they want you to do. But doing research becomes an opportunity to help them explore ideas and work on them together to find something that showcases who they are and that connects with their audience. Pro tip: further than researching on the topic you’re working on, do a lot of research on the client to get familiar with the company, what they do and the services they offer, and, most importantly, what their audience is and how to target them, as this helps in envisioning a product that the client likes and is proud of and will work best for its audiences.