How to think like a client

If you’ve ever wondered what clients want from Australian design studios, we’ve unlocked the secrets. At the latest Design Business Council Unseminar, Coca-Cola’s Natalie Cukerman, Bank Australia’s Fiona Nixon and Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand’s Elisabeth Tuckey gave valuable insights from a FMCG, corporate and not-for-profit perspective. Here’s what they told us.

Clients want to be treated as individuals

Two out of the three ‘hate’ being bombarded with email pitches – to them it’s the equivalent of receiving ‘junk mail.’ The preference was for individual handwritten despatches, perhaps even with your own holiday tips, for an added personal touch.

Clients don’t think size matters

Whether an agency is big or small doesn’t matter. It comes down to the confidence of being able to deliver on the brief.

Clients want you to be passionate, but real

While your proactive ideas will put you ahead of the pack, your ‘take charge’ approach needs to be grounded in reality. Your ideas should be based on budgets and capabilities. Design concepts also need to be cognisant of diversity and difference.

Clients expect you to know their business

Don’t suggest a design solution you’ve pitched to other organisations. Demonstrate that you understand the people you’re asking to work with.

Clients view the briefing process as critical

Sometimes the client doesn’t know what they want to achieve. Clients want designers to ask the right questions, tell them when something is wrong, and come up with a solution. But never show a design that can’t be achieved.

Clients put copy first

Clients want their customers to know exactly what action they want them to take. So, start with the messaging – great copy first, followed by striking images, catchy graphics and outstanding design.

Clients want you to communicate more

When you’re working on a project, clients want regular updates on deliverables. Radio silence followed by a plead for clarity is detrimental to the client-studio relationship.

Clients will always want a say

If there are specific ways that a concept can be executed, give a few options. Start with three to five ideas. Clients will want to see one or two artwork stages, but they’re prepared to adjust their expectations with budgets.

Clients have their own internal battles

When it comes to design, sometimes clients are required to compromise internally. If a board member wants a last-minute copy change studios need to understand that those decisions aren’t always about your output.

What’s the takeaway?

Overall, clients want you to be authentic and enthusiastic about the work – probably the same reasons that inspired to you to specialise in design in the first place.

Guest author: Serpil Senelmis

Serpil Senelmis is co-director of Written & Recorded. She’s an experienced journalist who specialises in copywriting, podcasting, workshops and hosting events.
Serpil is passionate about helping organisations craft a persuasive story. Contact Serpil.

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