September 2, 2016
Why your client has to know a little bit about Marketing
I've been interested in Marketing, Advertising, and Graphic Design for a long time. I started doing freelance Graphic Design while I was in college, doing ad layouts for local businesses in Tempe. I was charging for design work, but I would often write the ads, and sometimes I drew cartoons for them. It was a lot of "leg work" in those days, as I would have to go visit the client, sit with them, and understand what they needed. Often the design work, which was billable, was very small compared to the time that I spent trying to figure out how to help my client.
Luckily, most of my clients understood Marketing, and Advertising. They hired me to make their ads look better. These were ads in newspapers, magazines, yellow pages, billboards, that sort of thing. And they could have gotten their design done for free, by the publications, but they chose to hire me. They were paying for ad space, but they knew that bland design was a waste of their money. They wanted good, eye-catching design, and were willing to pay me for that. I thought that was nice. I gave them the best I could, and it often included headlines (one client liked my "punny" sense of humor), and whatever body copy (that's what the text of an ad is called) was needed, usually just a paragraph or two.
Working with real clients while I was studying Marketing, Advertising, and Graphic Design was an excellent education for me. And I was fortunate to have so many clients who knew way more than me about Marketing. They were in business, doing the kind of stuff that I was studying in my business classes.
One of my most important lessons came from a visit I made to a brand new client who had been referred to me. I was pleased to find that my reputation had proceeded me, and I imagined that I was some kind of Marketing whiz kid. But I wasn't. And when I asked the new client why people should come to his store (Best price? Convenient location? Great quality? Guarantees?), he said "to buy". Yes, he simply said that the reason people came to his place of business was to give him money. Not much to hang a Marketing, or advertising campaign on!
I can still hear him saying that. And in that instant I realized that this person knew nothing about Marketing and Advertising, and I was in no position to teach him. I think that both of us could tell that the conversation was going nowhere, and so I politely ended the meeting, and told him that I would be happy to meet with him again, but we never did. I think he wondered why I had taken up his time. We had said nothing, and accomplished nothing.
In my career, I've help a lot of people. I've been well-paid for my design, and that design has helped to communicate for my clients. I stayed very tightly-focused on Graphic Design, and for people who understand how it fits into the Marketing mix, it has been a good thing. Good for me, and good for my clients.
Posted by Brad Hall