are creatives scaring clients away by trying to come off as experts?

April 8, 2014

by william choukeir

creatives often make a common mistake during their initial meeting with a new client. while planning for the initial meeting, they believe that the client expects them to be the expert right from start.

in an attempt to position themselves as experts in their field, creatives start dissecting the client’s business by asking questions about business model, target profile, and strategy.

this approach often intimidates the client for a few reasons. they may not be able to link the relevance of the questions to the project they’re considering hiring the creative for. often they just want to get to know the creative better and build rapport. this bombarding of questions is a rapport-killer. and the worst-case scenario is when the client realises that they don’t have answers. clients want to come across as the experts on ‘their own business’. asking clients strategic questions they haven’t considered achieves the opposite results. any one of these consequences makes the client uncomfortable, and are likely to push them to commission someone else that make them feel good about themselves.

the alternative is extremely powerful yet so deceptively simple that it comes across as too simplistic. i worry that most of those reading this will skim over it and never try to implement it; not even once. having said that, and although it’s simple enough, it’s a strategic approach that takes patience and humility.

for instance, casafekra® clients understand that while they are the experts on their own business, the casafekra® team is the expert on hospitality furnishing solutions; and both parties mutually respect this distinction. trying to understand the business goals of the client are important but creatives shouldn’t position themselves as the experts on the business of their potential client.

during the initial meeting, instead of bombarding the client with strategic questions that only place the creative in good light, one can opt to fall in love with the client. creatives should build rapport, place themselves in the shoes of the client, understand why the client is having this meeting with them, what he hopes to get out of it, what’s the scope of the project, and what outcome would be considered a success?

the sole purpose of the meeting then becomes to establish mutual trust with the client—not strategically analyse the client’s business. after that, if and only if, the creatives feel that they’re the best person for the job, then they’d be doing the client a disfavor if they let him hire someone else. once the project is on the way, then creatives can allow their expertise to shine through, and start probing strategically in the best interest of their client; after all, it’s their moral obligation to only do what’s in the best interest of their client.

try it just once with your next potential client and i guarantee you’ll see results, and you’ll have a healthier and longer relationship with that client. the only regret you’ll have is that you didn’t read this sooner.

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One Response to “are creatives scaring clients away by trying to come off as experts?”

  1. […] fallen in love with your clients, then your clients will see you as their most trusted advisor. they will only want to do business with you. if you do this from day one, way before any money exchanges hands, then it’s inevitable that […]

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