Tips for working with clients
Hey guys, my name is Adam Everett Miller from Hello Studios, and in this video I’m going to talk to you about a couple of tips for how to better your relationships with your clients. I’m assuming that you’ve been in business for a little bit here, maybe you have some recurring clients here. Rather than talk about how to acquire new clients or attract new customers, I’m going to assume that you’ve already had some people you have relationships with, and so these tips are going to be geared towards making your life less stressful and making those relationships better. I will say that this is more geared towards service-oriented jobs – construction, landscaping, creative services like video or web design. Things that deal with a contract and more large scale projects rather than one-off sales. Hopefully this will be helpful for you if you’re in one of those roles.
Let’s go ahead and jump right in. I have 5 points. Point 1 is establish a deadline. I think a lot of times we hear the word deadline and we think, “If I don’t get this project done by this time I’m dead – I’m in trouble.” That makes sense because we all grew up going to school where you had to get your homework in by Friday. We have bills we’ve got to pay by a certain time of the month. So it makes sense, but if you look at the origin of the word deadline, it actually comes from the early American prison system. The guard would be up in the tower, and prisoners would be down messing around by the outside wall or gates, and what they did, was around the perimeter of the fence, they painted a solid white line around the wall. This was called the deadline. If you crossed the deadline, you’re going to get shot. It was a basic, clear way of saying “Don’t go mess with the fence.” This was really quite brilliant. Rather than “If I don’t get this done by this time, I’m dead.” Say, “By this date, the project is dead. I’m not dead, the project is dead.” That’ll instantly alleviate a lot of stress you might have. This is also cool because you can set up deadlines for your client. You don’t want to be floundering in this state of client feedback and this limbo of waiting to hear back, and I’m not really sure if they saw it or not. Give your client a deadline. You need to have the script to me by Thursday, I’ll get you the voice over by Friday, and I want to see revisions by Monday. If you’re upfront and establish deadlines with them, it’s going to make your entire project go a lot smoother. Establish a deadline.
Rule 2 is talk a little and talk a lot. It should be talk a lot and talk a little, but I just like how talk a little and talk a lot sounds. Regularly update your clients. Keep them in the loop. They’re trusting you with this project. They may be stuck out on a limb and really want to move forward with this. They’re investing – they’re hiring you to better their organization and make themselves better. Their livelihood is dependant on you. Of course they’re going to want to hear updates on how things are going and if there’s any issues. Don’t leave them waiting and wondering. Regularly update them. But, also talk a little. Don’t do four paragraphs explaining every little intricate technical detail. They just want a simple little update just to keep them in the know. They’re going to really appreciate that. It’s important at the front end to find out what they’re prefered method of communication is. Do they like texting? Or is texting “No, that’s my cell phone. This is a work phone. That’s my personal phone.” You never know what people prefer. Maybe just an email. Maybe they like using a service like Basecamp where there can be a thread to track there. Right on the front end find out what their preferred method of communication is.
Rule 3 is don’t be somebody else. It sounds like I could just say be yourself, but no, don’t be somebody else. You are going to be yourself, but a lot of times, especially when you first get started, it’s tempting to try to inflate yourself to be a bigger organization than you are – we can handle this, this, this, this and this. How many resumes do you see that say you’re proficient in all these different things? That’s fine, but I want to know who your are. Don’t be fake with people. They’ll be able to read through it pretty quickly. Be authentic and do good work. If you can deliver quality results, the client is going to come back to you. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Can you do a live stream and have a multi camera set up and be doing internet streaming? That’s not really what we do. I can redirect you to somebody, or maybe we can figure that out together, but by being honest and upfront, you’re not going to be jipping them off by overcommitting and under delivering. And you’re not going to be stressed out because you said you could do stuff and now you’ve got to figure out how in the world you’re going to do it. Don’t be somebody that you’re not. I read this book called Rework by 37Signals, the guys that make Basecamp. The biggest walk away that I took was that bigger is not always better. Why have 20 employees when you can do a good job with 10. Why have 5 guys on your staff when you can just by yourself and subcontract different services? We have this idea that success means we’re growing and we’re big. That’s not always necessarily the case. Do quality work. Be honest. Be candid with people. And they will come back and they’ll appreciate you for it.
Number four: give A or B choices. Really the idea here is be intentional with your questions and you’ll get intentional answers. Rather than saying something like, “colorwise, what were you thinking?” say “Do you prefer red or blue?” Give a specific choice. It doesn’t have to be one or two. It can be “here are the 6 options that are most popular. Which one do you think is most aligned with where you’re wanting to go?” It you give options, it helps the client be more decisive. Rather than putting things on their side of the court, you’re basically saying “We’re doing one of these, which one do you want to move forward with?” All of a sudden you’re moving forward and you’re not waiting on them or waiting for feedback. It’s just a way to continue to move forward and get a lot more stuff done. Along with that, there’s often the need to educate your client. They might not be familiar with the way that certain things are done. If you do web design, the alpha channel and the hex value and all these terms. You’re super knowledgable about all this because you’ve been doing it for a while. It’s easy without even trying to be a little condescending. They need to be educated but you’ve got to watch how you word things and how you phrase things. The way that I’ve approached this is I’ve twisted it in the form of a question. “Are you familiar with this?” “Have you thought about ‘fill in the blank.’” By making it a question, you’re never going to offend anybody. They’re not going to say “I can’t believe he would ask me such a thing.” They would say “I can’t believe he’d talk down to me like that.” Make sure as you’re educating, you’re educating, but you’re coming along side them to educate rather than attacking them with “are you going to white balance your camera or what?” and things like that. Overall, just be a nice person.
Five: adopt their babies. This kind of goes along with keeping them updated. They’re stepping out on a limb here and they’ve decided to hire you. You need to remember that – keep that in mind. Provide the feedback but also ask additional questions. Find out what they’re trying to accomplish overall. Is this specific thing that you’re working on part of a larger game plan that they have. If you ask questions like “what’s your goal with this?” or “what are you trying to accomplish?” Ask questions outside of just this project that they’re hiring you for and it’s going to plant this little seed in their brain and say this guy really cares and wants to be a part of what we’re doing. I can see us really carrying him along with us. Maybe he can be a part of this. You’re going to lock yourself in with them maybe for the long haul. They’re going to want to come back to you because they know that you really care about what they’re trying to accomplish.
The last point, number 6: maybe you have a plan of contact. Maybe you have some connection that got you in on a specific job. As soon as you’re able, try to establish other relationships within that organization or company. If you’re only depending on one individual, if they end up leaving or something happens, you could lose that job. Try to chat with the girl in accounting and maybe just have a little dialogue. Be memorable and build relationships. Try to get to know other people in the organization as well. That’ll lock in your position there because they’ll remember “that Adam guy that did videos.” It’ll secure your position there.
I hope there was some useful information here for you. I love hearing from people. If you want to shoot me an email with any questions. Maybe you’ve thought of doing some videos yourself. I can probably tell you pretty quickly if you’d be in a good position to do that or what your options are. Maybe we can work together or I can maybe refer you to a friend who does similar work. I would love to meet you. Check out our work: hellostudios.net. I hope to see you soon!
About Adam Everett Miller
For five years, Adam was the Editor of Aetuts+, the largest Adobe After Effects tutorial resource on the web. His articles and tutorials have helped thousands of followers all over the world. This website, along with Hello's internship program, have allowed Adam to invest in and mentor future creatives.
|Author||Adam Everett Miller|
|Date Added||January 15, 2021|
Adam discusses some of the ways that entrepreneurs can strengthen client relationships and keep projects moving forward. In particular, he recommends these six tips:
- Establish clear deadlines
- Talk a little and talk a lot
- Don't be somebody else
- Give A or B choices
- Make new friends
ABOUT HELLO STUDIOS:
Hello Studios is a small video production company that loves to collaborate with creatives in the video world. We are quick to accommodate and have a realistic sense of what it takes to accomplish a quality result. Investing in people through providing internship opportunities and sharing knowledge has always been a major priority.