Know What Makes Your Client Tick

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Know what makes your client tick.

Fotolia_47060619_XSEffective communication is everything. Knowing precisely what your client needs can make a world of difference.   Although we cannot get into the minds of our clients, it is always best to figure out their likes and dislikes and where they want their marketing to go.  So we ask lots of questions.

Get to know your client well and maintain a great working relationship. Indeed, a bad client relationship is like a ticking time bomb with an explosion just waiting to happen.

When working with clients we try to determine the following:

1) The client’s needs.  What needs to be accomplished? Is there an upcoming event? What is the deadline?  Who are the players?  What is the budget?  What are the resources available? Does the project require writing, proofreading, illustration, photography, social media services, and/or printing?  Are there any existing brand standards to follow?

2) The Budget.  How much has the client allocated for the project?  Is the project for online or for print? Is this a recurring project such as a newsletter? What is the quantity?  Indeed, some marketing agencies offer quantity discounts for doing multiple projects at the same time.

3) The Staff Resources. Will the client make available to write text, provide photos, upload files and maintain updates? Will the staff be providing the content? Is there a webmaster or IT person to handle updates and regular maintenance?

4) The estimated number of rounds of edits. Will the client need a few rounds of edits or many?  While this is often difficult to determine, many marketing firms bid most work on a per project basis with a couple of rounds of client edits included in the price.  After the time for edits has been allocated, an hourly rate often kicks in.  It is best to establish these cost parameters at the outset.  This avoids conflicts later.

5) The distribution of the final piece. How will the final piece reach the audience?  If this is a printed piece, who will be the printer?   How will it be mailed?  Is there a mailing list? If it is an online piece, how will it be sent out? Will it be sent as an e-blast, post on the Web as a PDF or webpage, a blog or tweeted through social media?

6) Filling the client’s shoes.  What will make the client happy?  What does the board of directors and senior management expect?  How long can the campaign run?  Is there a special event that will create visibility for the roll-out of marketing materials?  What is the bare minimum that the client needs to achieve from the campaign?

7) The sales.  What will it take to increase sales?  The importance of any marketing piece is to generate awareness, positive buzz and ultimately sales.  How can the designed advertisement or communication generate sales for your company?  What is the target audience?  Is the target audience segmented to allow for very customized messaging?  Has the company generated any leads or a distribution list?  What is the competition doing?  Has the competition developed a successful advertising or marketing campaign?  What can differentiate the client from the competition?  How will the client be able to gauge if the marketing campaign is successful?

8.  The communication.  How does the client like to be reached?  How often does the client expect regular status updates?  By email, phone, fax or text? Usually the more communication there is, the better.  Avoid the surprise factor.  Send regular project proofs to your client.  Many marketing firms post samples on-line as PDFs, “iMags” or as webpages.

Tick tock. Tick tock.  It’s time to know your client!  Find out the answers to these important questions.  It will payoff in the end.


If your company needs a beautifully designed newsletter, collateral, interactive presentation or annual report, please contact HWDS at  For the past 22 years we have specialized in creating effective communications and knowing how best to accommodate the needs of our clients.

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