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Michael Irvin
Marketing and Graphic Design Big Idea Guy
Overland Park, Kansas
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How To Talk To Your Creative Partner

Communicating your goals as a businessperson is essential in conveying your needs to your creative partner. Being clear and succinct in communicating avoids wasted time caused by miscues and assumptions.
Written Jul 09, 2012, read 1625 times since then.
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Notice I wrote “Creative Partner” not graphic designer. I prefer Creative Partner because it does two things; first it defines the relationship properly as a partnership with each partner being equal, and second it covers more than just graphic designers and includes others like web designers, tv production, copywriting, etc.

How you talk to these important partners is vital to getting the most out of them. As one I know. I perform so much better when I understand the goals and directions of the company I’m working for.

Communicating your goals as a businessperson is essential in conveying your needs to your creative partner. Being clear and succinct in communicating avoids wasted time caused by miscues and assumptions. In addition to being clear in your communication I have three phrases to consider not using when you talk to your creative partner. 

“I’m not feeling it”
This gets you no where. I don’t know how many times I’ve had not only customers but supervisors in the industry use this phrase leaving me standing there wondering what the hell that means. If you’re going to use this phrase follow it by, “and here are my reasons why.” Be prepared to explain in plain English why you’re not “feeling” it. Feelings are very subjective and open to interpretation. If you don’t explain your feelings then the next round of revisions may be a waste as the designer, writer, or producer may interpret your feelings wrongly.

“I’ll know it when I see it”
These are dreaded words in the creative community. This means that the creative has to spend hours of billable time chasing ideas down rabbit holes only to be told “I’m not feeling it.” You want to drive a creative insane use this phrase a lot. Just be prepared to go way beyond your budget because any creative worth his salt should/will bill you for the time spent “exploring” your thoughts. By being able to verbalize your concerns and desires you can save yourself a lot of money.

“My wife likes _______ so use it in the ad”
As the client you have every right to ask your creative partner to do whatever you ask. He/she should comply but first they should challenge you and ask why. Be prepared to have a good, logical answer other than “she likes blue.” Creatives pride themselves on their knowledge of their field. They spend a lot of time keeping up with trends, culture changes, and what is working now. To say you want blue because your wife did some research and found that businesses like your’s stand out in the corporate world when they use blue is adding to the partnership. It’s bringing in valid information that the creative can use to your advantage. Together you are creating a strong marketing piece that will benefit you more than a poorly thought out one.

As you can see the more effective the communication between you and your creative partner the more effective and cheaper the outcome. Conversely, your partner should be able to communicate to you simply the why’s of what they have done. You shouldn’t be hearing things like; “I did it because I liked it,” or “I like yellow.” There should be reasoning behind every aspect of your marketing. From the reason you are marketing to the design of your business cards, everything should be well thought out.

Learn more about the author, Michael Irvin.

Comment on this article

  • Sales Process Consultant 
Bensalem, Pennsylvania 
Howard Dion
    Posted by Howard Dion, Bensalem, Pennsylvania | Jul 10, 2012

    Michael, well wriiten with a lot of really good advice for people in your field.

    Howard

  • Marketing and Graphic Design Big Idea Guy 
Overland Park, Kansas 
Michael Irvin
    Posted by Michael Irvin, Overland Park, Kansas | Jul 10, 2012

    Howard, thanks for the compliment. My target was small businesspeople not those in my field per se. Small business owners need to communicate better with their creative partners to save themselves money and frustration. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

    Michael

  • Markitect 
Berlin, Connecticut 
Bill Doerr
    Posted by Bill Doerr, Berlin, Connecticut | Aug 23, 2012

    Michael --

    Just read your post . . . very, very true and equally sage insights and direction to avoid or remediate situations that, because we're human, tend to happen sooner or later.

    Again, a nice post. Thank you.

    Bill

  • Marketing and Graphic Design Big Idea Guy 
Overland Park, Kansas 
Michael Irvin
    Posted by Michael Irvin, Overland Park, Kansas | Aug 24, 2012

    Bill, Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate the opportunity to serve you. Having been in the advertising culture for a while, I've experienced a lot of things that can be changed and make the industry more efficient in serving its clients. I don't know how many times I've seen accounts lost due to either greed or miscommunication.

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