Occasionally you wind up with an amateur client. It hasn’t happened to me in years but it does happen. Oddly enough, it’s not always a bad thing.
The most common manifestation of amateurishness is probably this reaction to creative (or to anything, really): “I don’t like it,” followed by silence.
Experienced clients will say “I don’t like it” every now and then but they’ll always explain why they don’t like it.
What’s the difference here?
Experienced clients usually have solid, objective reasons: it’s off target, doesn’t hit the hot buttons, mentions features without expanding to advantages and benefits, doesn’t ask for the order … whatever. And you can handle those kinds of things.
You can’t use reasoned arguments to handle “I don’t like it,” followed by silence. I’ve tried.
No point asking “Why don’t you like it?” because if there was a reason the client would have mentioned it.
When I was younger and much dopier, I once tried this: “So what? You’re not in the target audience. You have nothing in common with the target audience. They’re females 35-55 years old, high school grads, married with kids at home and an HHI of $40,000. You’re a guy, 28 years old, MBA, single, no kids and you make over a hundred grand. I’d be amazed if you liked it.”
That didn’t go well.
There’s really only one thing you can do. Lick your wounds and change your approach.
I found an approach that can work very well.
It starts with getting the client to sign off on all the preliminary work, mostly research and creative brief. The next step is to involve the client directly in the development of the creative.
You come prepared with, say, three concepts with scribble layouts or story boards. It works best if you do the scribbling – thumbnail sketches are best – right in the meeting while you explain.
You get a reaction, scribble some more, get another reaction. Working with the client, figure out what goes where and what gets stressed. Compliment the client with something like “Hey, you should be in the creative department!”
As soon as you can, right after your meeting, write notes about what the client said.
Now, when you go back to the client with finished layouts/storyboards and copy/script, the whole thing is presold. This works, and it’s actually easier than doing it in a vacuum.