“I don’t like it.” — When it comes to evaluating marketing materials, we’ve banned that phrase from our office. Not because people aren’t allowed to not like something (is that a double negative?), but because it’s not particularly helpful. “I don’t like it” boils down to only one thing: personal taste. You’re entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine. But unless we support our arguments with valid reasons, they’re essentially meaningless.
Here are some more meaningful phrases:
– “I don’t like it because it’s too cluttered.”
– “I don’t like it because it doesn’t reflect the client’s identity.”
– “I don’t like it because the message is unfocused.”
– “I don’t like it because we took the easy way out.”
– “I don’t like it because it doesn’t live up to our standards.”
You get the idea. Internally, we’ve created a culture that values these types of interactions. We know we can disagree because we do it out of respect and because we know that everyone has the client’s best interests at heart.
The real challenge takes place when the client says “I don’t like it.” Usually, he or she can’t articulate the reasons beyond a simple gut reaction. It’s our job as marketing specialists to extract the logic (or lack thereof) behind the statement. As it turns out, sometimes the client is right. We’re open to that; we’re just as capable of making mistakes as the next marketing professionals. But sometimes the client is wrong. Then it’s up to us to build our case. Here’s what usually happens. The client remains skeptical but gives us the green light to test our approach. That’s where the rubber hits the road. The burden of proof is on us. But if we’ve done our homework and put all the proper pieces in place, there’s a good chance that everyone winds up happy.
Every now and then, a client will dig in and say, in so many words, “My way or the highway.” We never take these moments lightly. We give each the consideration it deserves, carefully weighing the pros and cons, bringing all of our experience and judgment to bear. In the end, we might decide to part ways, especially if we feel our integrity is on the line. That’s when you’ll find us on the “highway.” We’ve learned that the occasional metaphorical road trip isn’t such a bad thing.
Brian Rouff serves as managing partner for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.