Client vs Creative: the what they say and what they mean glossary - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

The client vs creative relationship is a complex one. The client says one thing but often means another. You know what we’re talking about, right? Of course you do! If only you could say what you yourself were really thinking.

Lift the drawbridge on your client management filter and the trust would be instantly swept away in the ensuing mudslide of verbiage. After all, a strong client/creative relationship is built on trust. And by trust, we mean trusting that you will change everything on deadline day even though the brief had been signed off two months earlier. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a copywriter, marketer, designer or developer, Agency Life can be tough to live. There’s no doubt about that.

Cast your mind back to when you were discovering your passion and developing your skills. Could you ever have imagined you’d become a customer services specialist, an account manager, friend and therapist to clients? Those who live the Agency Life know all too well that being a creative is more than the title would suggest.

Whilst each client is unique, they all converse in one universal language: ‘client-speak’. We’ve rounded up some of your personal experiences to create a top list of ‘what they say and what they actually mean’. Let’s take a look…

“We don’t have a budget in mind” 

Client actually means: We do have a budget in mind and it just so happens that it will be less than whatever you propose.

“I won’t bother you this weekend”

Client actually means: I’m totally going to call you at 2am on Saturday.

“Work your magic”

Client actually means: I have no idea what I want and I’ll only know it when I see it.

“It will only take a few minutes”

Client actually means: I forgot about this, but it needs to be done immediately.

“There’s just one final change”

Client actually means: This will never, ever end.

“Make it pop”

Client actually means: I have no idea what I want.

“We decided to go in another direction”

Client actually means: I don’t love you anymore.

“Make it amazing, but do it quick”

Client actually means: I want all the bells and whistles but I have no money to pay you.

“It’s approved, just going to show the team”

Client actually means: The project is not approved. I’m going to show it to the team, the cafe staff, my kids and mother-in-law.

“I can’t download your invoice”

Client actually means: Even though I managed to easily download the final work files I can’t open your invoice because there’s no money to pay you.

Good relationships are complicated

If you said “yes” or “tell me about it” to one or more of the above then know, you are not alone. Like a fine wine, building a client relationship takes time to mature and ferment into something tasty. Nothing good ever came easy. Most clients are kind. They’ve walked a similar journey to you and want to protect their investment.

So, in a bid to help us all work better, hit us up with your collective client-speak experiences and share your best client retorts.

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