There’s a common premise in advertising: the client is always right.
It worries me.
Being ‘right’ is a perspective, not an absolute
To some extent, clients will always choose the right answer.
But clients are people, and they have their own goals and ambitions.
And therein lies the problem.
What’s right for them, and what’s right for their brands, aren’t necessarily the same thing.
It’s the ideal excuse
“Let’s just give the client what they want.”
Sometimes, doing what the client wants is the right thing for the agency and its client relationship; you have to choose your battles.
But using this defense before we’ve proposed a better solution is just lazy.
It’s not easy to persuade someone to do something different to what they want.
But if we can prove – objectively – that our solution is more appropriate, we have an obligation to push that solution.
We’re failing in our commitments and our promises to our clients if we don’t.
Justify your love
Neil points out that the most common reason clients don’t go with the best answer is because we haven’t explained it properly:
Let’s face it: you just haven’t persuaded them that it’s a good enough idea.
Or worse, they think it is a good idea, but they don’t trust you enough to implement it without screwing it up.
In such circumstances, we need to rethink our approach.
Take time to identify their concerns, and also what they think makes an alternative better.
If it’s just a question of subjective taste, let it go; questioning someone’s taste is rarely constructive relationship-building.
Your task is to demonstrate objectively – i.e. beyond all reasonable doubt – which solution is best for the brand’s current context.
If their argument is based on valid rationale, but you’re unconvinced by the current articulation, identify ways to build on it.
It’s critical to remember that success isn’t about getting your idea into market; it’s about getting the best answer into market.
And if you still believe your solution is better, you need to prove why it’s in their personal best interests to believe you.
Who are you talking to?
Remember that your client is the first audience you need to persuade, and as with any other communication, success is always about them.
Show them how the best idea for the brand will also help them achieve their individual KPIs, and they’ll probably warm to it.
The trick is showing them why your right answer is the right answer for them too.
Then you can both be right.