Voxpop – What is the best piece of advice a client has given you?

Business development expert Jonathan Kirk’s guest blog last week rounded up client answers to the question, ‘If you could give the consultancy one piece of advice, what would it be?’ What is the single best piece of advice a client has given you?

Gareth Howat

‘When we first started up Hat-trick there was one client who gave us this advice: “Know your stuff’. When we pitched for the Natural History Museum identity we made sure we really knew our stuff. We made it a point to know more about the subject and the history, background, issues and future of the museum than the client did. The knowledge paid off as we won the job against the odds. It’s something that’s stuck with us ever since: Know what, know when, know who, know why. Know your own mind. Know when to listen. Know when to speak. Know when to say ‘I don’t know’.’

Gareth Howat , director, Hat-Trick Design

Michael Smith

‘”I’m paying you, just do what I ask.” I’ve only heard this a handful of times in Cog’s 20 years but I know, instantly, that it signals the end of a relationship. It’s not because we’re precious, just pragmatic. For us, design is a collaborative process. We give people what they need, not (just) what they ask for. We can’t do that without a dialogue or without being able to challenge our client’s preconceptions (and vice versa).

Michael Smith, director, Cog Design

Lavinia Culverhouse

‘There are two pieces of advice that spring to mind and have stood us in good stead. One is, “you never really lose a pitch”. Remember even if you lose the pitch on the day, if you’ve done a good job and people like you they will be back. This actually happened to us when we pitched to rebrand BUPA. Starting out with ten agencies we finally went head to head with Interbrand.Their global offer tipped the scale in their favour in the end and they won, BUT, the then Marketing Director said, they were so impressed they would be back …. and they were. One month later we were awarded the project to rebrand BUPA Hospitals. Now Spire Healthcare, it turned out to be a bigger project than the one we lost! The other piece of advice is based on a comment from a client who once said to me, “remember, you guys are the exciting part of my week – the art or sport on the school timetable”. Smile, be positive and enjoy.’

Lavinia Culverhouse, managing director, Designhouse

Simon Manchipp

‘Clients remember only three things about a creative agency: 1) An impassioned presentation from a designer. 2) One great idea (if you are lucky). 3) How attractive the people are (both male and female). A client told me this a decade ago and it’s always stayed with me. Which is why we have three golden rules: A) At least one walking-talking-Stephen-Hawking of a big idea in any meeting. B) Presented by a progressive creative — not a suit. C) Everyone who works at Someone is, really, really hot.’

Simon Manchipp, co-founder, Someone

Mike Reed

‘Working out what to charge is a nightmare for the new freelancer. I’d been independent for a couple of years, and had little idea what my rate should be. I decided I was probably undercharging, and tentatively announced to one of my longest-standing clients that I was putting my rates up. I braced myself, but she said, “I’ve been meaning to say something, because I feel bad about what we’re paying. You should be charging more.’”Wow. I suggested a new rate. “A little higher,” she suggested, and we agreed a new figure. It was the most generous advice any client has ever given me. Especially as it was her own business — and therefore her own money. It didn’t just transform my income, it made me more confident about my work, and how I dealt with clients. And you can imagine how fiercely loyal I was to her from then on.’

Mike Reed, founder, Reed Words

Ian Wormleighton

‘I spent several weeks working in Dubai and initially always wore a three-piece suit, so stuck out like a sore thumb in 40ºC! One day the client suggested I went back to the hotel and changed into something more comfortable for the conditions. They were really telling me to act more like a partner in the business than a supplier. Partners become one of the team and people feel comfortable around them, which gives a better opportunity to grow the business.’

Ian Wormleighton, creative director, Red Bee Media

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  • Shan Preddy, Preddy&Co November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Before going into consultancy and training, I used to run a London design and branding firm. Like most clients, one of our regulars used to ask us to do occasional little jobs on the side. Getting tired of the endless tiny bills he was having to process, he took me to one side and said: “Always charge enough to be generous”. In other words, don’t sting him for every single tiny thing, but charge decent fees in the first place. Neither the free cup of (good) coffee and pastries that you get at a VW dealer’s service centre, nor their free visual vehicle health checks, are actually ‘free’. But they don’t appear on the bill either, especially when the budget’s been closed.

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