Updated: Dec 17, 2020
a strong client relationship turns to alignment
entry no. 27
I think all of us creatives who offer a service find ourselves thinking about financial opportunities and how that impacts creativity. Still, looking back over the years, we've realized what impacts creative outcomes are how aligned we are with our clients. In short, this approach is valuing the relationship we build together more than the ticket value of a project. Not to neglect how much money is available, but we think you're shooting yourself in the foot, going directly to money first without starting with a stronger foundation.
Before we dive into a project, we do a few things that let us feel more assured the project will be okay, no matter how big or small. It's also crucial for us to create a mutual sense of respect and opportunity for both party's voices and uniqueness to be heard. Surprisingly, we find a lot of artists don't even consider these viewpoints before hiring their creatives, so we feel this will be a good read for both creatives taking on new clients and artists looking to hire their next creative.
While in most cases, we can dig into an artist's Facebook, Insta, or Spotify, this is usually a pretty surface-level approach. We've found from single to ep to full length; most artists have some shift, transformation, or a new theme, so we feel it's crucial to know who they are, where they are, and what vision they have both broad and immediate.
Every project, we want to be hired for more than a video, but to help add to the full story and goals underway. We can't do this unless we pry a bit and gain some insight. Realistically, we enjoy just getting to know our artists. Understanding their concerns and beginning here really bring down everyone's defense and create a more relaxed conversation vs. being to business. Not only do we aim for our on-set experience to be enjoyable, but we try to make meetings just as worthy, because who wants to sit in another dry meeting.
We don't necessarily follow this up with who we are. Still, these conversations usually are an organic exchange of information, digging into aspects about them and details about ourselves. When our artists understand who we are and how we operate, we work best together throughout the project timeline. The truth is artists look at us as video guys, until we take the time to educate them on all the variables and necessary logistics that go into a project, and that's precisely why these first impressions are useful.
Even as the project timeline moves along, these values remain, and by the end of a project, we end up friends who just produced some badass work together. With more comfort, it becomes more straightforward for each party to propose questions, voice opinions, and share feedback. Ultimately, creating the best results for the project.
After the foundation is established, it's essential to dig into realistic goal setting. At this point in a project, we embrace the educator hat, helping to break down how we do things, variables to planning, and giving our artists the info required to make their own decisions with our guidance. The critical thing here is to address this in the way of options, being transparent, and assisting them to see it through your lens, as the video expert. I think many creatives expect artists to know this information, from planning, crew needs, gear, and even how far a budget goes. The fact is, this is our job, and this is where we gain our most satisfying projects.
In early years we were yes men and down the line, we either were in over our heads and lost out or let our artist down. Today, we recognize how important it is to take the opportunity to be upfront, do our research, and be humble about not always having the answers. Having more genuine, honest conversations goes a long way in any project. We want more than one-off projects and to keep building with our artists repeatedly. Great projects start with healthy conversations, and good friendships happen from when this process is repeated and practiced.
Over the years, having this approach has built many friendships, made repeat projects more natural and more creative, and ultimately leads to the best word of mouth referrals. If we want to get corny, it's worth remembering that saying about not burning any bridges, because it could be a month or a decade later, that these "smaller" projects turn into great opportunities. We know reputation is hugely influential and treating every client as a relationship. Forming meaningful relationships has been the "Secret Sauce" of JECP for many, many years now.