By Mike Clark of www.shelfidentity.com
Do you ever feel like a note taker instead of a creative problem solver?
Has a buyer ever sketched out what they want for you, and said, “I’m practically designing it for you?”
If you’ve ever dealt with a buyer who wants something very specific, and they’re telling you the solution instead of the problem, I have a method that will help.
First, know that this buyer, who wants something very specific, is frightened. They’re frightened you won’t get it, or you’ll come up with something completely off the mark. So they play it safe. They devise a solution (that probably looks like all the product’s competitors) and they instruct you, very precisely.
You need a non-scary way to evolve your clients.
Over the years, I’ve developed an evolution method of sorts. It’s less about the creative process, and more about crossing the bridge to where your clients feel comfortable. (Read: 6 tips to wow the left brainers)
Use The Rule of Three.
By giving your client three layouts, you can help them evolve—in a way that feels comfortable for them.
Layout 1 - I unplug my right brain and do exactly what this buyer asked for. I try not to die of boredom in the process. I come up with a design that’s safe, humdrum, and that we’ve all seen a million times. Ultimately, your buyer knows this layout is safe. They’ve already seen in the marketplace.
Layout 2 – This is my interpretation of what they wanted. If in the creative brief, they kept saying “natural,” I interpret how “natural” makes me feel. Layout number says “natural,” but not as super literally as Layout 1. It solves the problem. When they look at Layout 2, my buyers say, “He got in my head and figured out what I really meant.” (Of course this is based on the shelf—because I always start at the beginning.) (link to Are you Really Starting at the Beginning.)
Layout 3 – This layout is out there. If it’s “natural,” it’s practically a box of dirt. It’s the design that wins the award, but doesn’t necessarily sell at the shelf. This design is what your buyer was painfully afraid of happening if you didn’t follow their absolute direction. It scares them back to layout 2 which the one you wanted them to go with.
Eventually, you’ll gain your buyers trust. They’ll get better at choosing. After a year, Layout 2 starts to look safe, and you can help them become even better at solving problems by pushing them further.
This approach lets me do what I do best—but in a way that is best for the client, too.