Managing Client Expectations

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Projects large and small often go one of two ways when served up to the creative team by account folk:

  • “When do you think you could have this by?”
  • We need this no later than XX/XX/XXXX.

As to the first, it seems an innocent enough question. Almost respectful, even, given that who knows your schedule and output abilities better than you? But, sometimes, it feels more like the gauntlet is being thrown down and what the person is really saying is: “surprise and amaze me with how quickly you can drop everything else you are doing and get this done.” Especially when you are blind-sided with the question, only moments after being shown the brief (assuming there is such an animal), and the person is hovering waiting for you make a potentially bad decision on the fly.
At the very least, buy yourself some time. Resist the urge to commit to anything other than: “I’ll have a think and get back to you shortly.” The other option is to put the question back to the account person: “When do you need it by?” In nearly every case, they will have a date in mind even if they didn’t offer it up in the beginning.
Just as bad as the creative person who always says “no” or “not possible,” is the creative who always says “yes” to even the most unreasonable or impossible request. Pull a rabbit out of your hat too often, or even when it’s not really needed, and you will have trained your account team to give little thought as to what is a decent amount of time for a job to be done and done well.
Once in awhile, it’s good to do the seemingly impossible, or at least improbable, you will win friends and be more credible down the road if you need to tell someone you are being presented with an unreasonable task.
I didn’t invent this phrase, but I use it often: “The impossible we can do straight away, but miracles take a little longer.”
This POV brought to you by a member of Boom Ideanet, the creative department of the future.” (Link:

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