10 March 2009

Heed the Advice

Too many times we see customers come to us for advice only to disregard it to do things their own way.

I'm sure every professional has to deal with some unwillingness to take advice. I believe our profession, the creative profession and more specifically, graphic design, is at the far end of this chart with maybe lawyers and doctors at the other end. You see, most people tend to follow the advice put forward by their doctors and lawyers, but when it comes to marketing and design, everyone has an opinion. And, this is where things break down.

Opinions are like... well, you've heard the saying. Everyone has one, and when it comes to design and creative, most peoples opinions are based on their personal feelings and what they like and don't like. When you come to a professional, you are getting opinions and advice based on expererience, training and knowledge... that's what you pay for. If Deirdra, your personal assistant, doesn't like blue because it reminds her of her first bike that was supposed to be pink, it's not a good enough reason to change the packaging design that was put together by a group of trained professionals - they chose blue because that's what will make an impact with the customer and cause them to take notice and action. There is a lot of thought that goes behind colour choice.

The same goes for fonts. Many hours are spent on font selection alone, in fact, a lot goes into selecting the right font for a treatment, one that will create the ambience, feeling and characteristics of the message and the brand. Some people think that you just scroll down the list and pick one of the 25 fonts that they see in their Word program. Truth be told, a typical designer has access to over 5,000 fonts and picking the right one is not only important but critical to the success of a design. Then there is the time in adjusting leading and getting the kern just right only to hear, 'did you try ariel?'

When a designer sits down to begin a job, they get into character, at least I did when I designed. I would get myself into the head of the customer. I should point out that a customer is the person buying the product or service, this is different from the client, who we deal with directly. Understanding what will motivate the customer to do something is half the battle in coming up with the design. If you can be the customer, even for a few hours, you can truly do something impactful and meaningful... something that will result in sales. And, sales results is the byproduct of our opinions and advice.

Don't get me wrong, we have some very good clients that listen closely and follow our advice when we give it. This usually works out in their favour and that's when we get a thank you card and maybe some donuts. These clients should be commended, following others advice is not always easy, especially if it puts you in a place you've never been before.

It's frustrating to go through all the motions only to have the work or ideas not acted on as they were intended for. Quite frankly, it's a waste of our time - remember, this is time we're getting paid for, so ultimately, it's a waste of money.

It's sometimes tough for business owners to accept or or take outside advice. Sometimes, it requires a leap of faith.

So, when my accountant began asking me to change elements in our accounting, including software and hardware, I was a bit leary about making changes to our procedures. Then I remembered the clients that didn't listen to us and... well, needless to say, we're going to do whatever he tells us to do, afterall, he's the expert, right?

As I stated above, we charge for our opinions and advice, it's taken years to know what we know and we share the pertinent points for a fee. But, you're probably here looking for something pro bono, well, here it is: Listen to and act on advice given to you by the professionals you hire.

Changing the way we do things with our accounting is a scary proposition, especially for me, but I know and trust, that I'm in good hands.

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Blogger Colin said...

Ahhh, too true. Nicely done.

3/12/2009 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin Franco said...

Note: I don't mean to single out Deirdra, the fictional admin assistant in this blog, but she shouldn't have been involved in this in the first place.

3/12/2009 11:26:00 AM  

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