THE IMPORTANCE OF INCLUSION

Clients can be finicky. This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one in our field. However, it's important to remember that clients are also intelligent, and likely wouldn't be in there positions otherwise. This doesn't mean that they always understand the design process though. To make our jobs easier and to help the clients better understand the process, it's important to include them in creative decisions.

Last week I was involved with a photo shoot for one of our agencies top clients. From the very beginning of the process we felt it was important to include them on every step of the way. What direction would their future ads take? What demographics were we targeting? What models would best define those target demographics. Every step a carefully choreographed series of decisions.

I say carefully choreographed because many of the decisions were partially made prior to the choices being presented to the client. The reason for this is simple; Murphy's Law demands that any bad ideas presented to a client will ultimately be chosen. We already had a short-list of best platforms, models and photo stylings in which to chose from. Any of which we'd be happy with them choosing. This isn't to say that we deceived our client in any way. The final say in everything would still be up to them, but we first had to make sure that the options they were given were good options.

Once all the decisions were made it was finally time for the big shoot. We met with our clients to give them a rundown of the days events, getting their feedback and blessings. However even with all of this, the importance of inclusion is fundamental to the success and ease at which a campaign can succeed. At this point we could have gone about our business; doing the shoot, creating the ads, and sending them for approval. That can't be enough though.

We always invite our clients to be a part of our shoots, as I'm sure any good agency does. This allows the client to see why certain artistic decisions were made. They have the chance to speak up if they don't like the way a model is standing or the way a tuft of hair hangs in the wrong place. By being involved they feel infinitely more responsible for the outcome. They're more receptive to the photos when they're presented to them in layout. They better understand some of the challenges that were faced and feel pride when they're overcome.

The most important reason, though, is the simplest one; we're building relationships. Clients are the lifeblood of our success as designers, whether freelance or agency. We shouldn't just be building business relationships but friendships as well. If there's no sincerety in our client interactions, we should expect to lose those clients. No matter the quality of your work, no one wants to work with someone who comes off as cold or callous. By including our clients in as much of the process as possible, we're building trust. We're educating them on the process and making our business transactions easier in doing so. We're building friendships and helping each other succeed.

Clients might still be finicky, even with all this. When you've built the right rapport though, everyone will be able to laugh about it in the end.