Nov 11, 2010

Until the last second: how some clients live dangerously close to not making the deadline.

True story.

I have never been a morning person. I usually get up at 8am (sorry, I have no kids, don't kill me!) so I get to the office at 9pm. I never - EVER - answer the phone at 6am unless it's family, and even they know that if I answer that phone, somebody better be dead. Mornings are the last moment of zen in my life, and I protect them dearly.

So of course, when that 7am call came in, I just moved in my comfy bed and kept on sleeping.

Well, it seems that someone decided to give me a call for a last minute change at that hour. I find this extremely disturbing not because of the hour - the thing that bothers me is the fact that by waiting until the last minute had caused the client to have to pass on publishing their ad on X newspaper. Yep, the newspaper had said sorry, we can't wait for you any longer. So... why are you still insisting on changing something you should have done yesterday?

I just wonder sometimes: do clients really understand deadlines at all? I mean... the meaning of the word. Deadline. You have until this amount of time until... well, basically, your plans are dead! What you want to do, is no more! You are out of time!

How is this possible that people disregard dates, hours and even minutes? Can't you get organized a little bit so at least you make it possible that the ad that YOU are paying actually sees the light of day? What can possibly be interesting in having WEEKS to develop, make revisions, rewrite a hundred times and still, you wait until the last possible second to see if you can make it?

Sometimes I think that since it's not their company, they just work there, they think they are entitled to play a little luck with their projects. Come on down, clients out there and play the "Bet your Full Page!" Place your extremely revised ad here! Whoa! That's a big logo man! You should be proud of that 6 line header, sister! Now place the ad in the wheel of creative horror and let's see if we can wait for as long as it takes to approve the damn thing. Ready... Set... WAIT!

The key to advertising success when it comes to clients is very simple. If your client loves to procrastinate, think of yourself like a therapist. You need to enroll them in the 2 step program to faster approvals. It's very simple.

Step 1: try to get all the changes you need to in one round. That means if more than one person has to see it, then all people involved need to see the darn thing and change the fuck out of the ad at the same time. Nah, the change it before I show it to the next person doesn't work that way. Basically, we're all adults and have a brain. People should be able to visualize the ad with the suggested changes and make revisions. It's called imagination. We all have some sort of this wonderful gift. Nurture it.

Step 2: Get organized with the date of the media your ad needs to get to. If it's a two day deadline, then you need to hurry up and don't overthink too much stuff. Yes, sometimes you have a month, sometimes you have a couple of days. Don't let it stretch, because of the fact that many things can happen that you cannot control. Yes, it might sound histerical, but there ARE earthquakes, people die, computers shut down and the well loved situation that I really hate the most: Adobe programs can misfire and actually destroy a design. Been there got a tshirt. While clients wait that long, they are inviting bad situations to come. Just revise and approve the damn ad before I get diagnosed with some kind of weird disease while a tsunami destroys the ad agency where I work, dammit.

If you let your clients wait juuuuuust a little bit more, then by all means, take their hand and console them as they lose their shot at publishing their little ad. Just remember not to say I told you so, just try to let them understand that miracles are only made by the weird bearded guy upstairs, and while you tried your best to sexually entice the media buyer or grab the balls of the printer's guy, at some situations there is no more time you can ask for, there is no more deadlines to choose from. This shit happens and they need to know that they are not unreal.

Organize. Set decent headlines. Repeat.

Happy deadlines, people. Much love. Me.


Jake P. said...

A classic rant, Me! The other thing those clients don't understand (or don't want to understand) is that making late changes and a hurried (or half-assed) approval process DRAMATICALLY increases the possibility for incorporating other errors.

I adore graphic designers as much as anyone, but coming from the copy side -- and knowing that the latest change is going to be made by someone for whom grammar and/or spelling aren't a strength -- that's what gives me heartburn.

Me said...

I totally agree! If there is one thing I always tell them is that. And the thing is, while I do my best to check everything, it's my damn fault if something goes wrong. (I come from copy as well)

It's like shaking the bejeezus out of a wire and telling the trapeze artist that it's his mistake that he's dead.

Oh well...

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