Producing a television commercial is as much about client relations as it is about creativity and the ability to sell a product or service to the viewer.
Your primary focus is to help your client achieve his or her goals, but it's also important to build a level of trust that will ensure their return for future production. Whether you're dealing with a brand new client or someone who you've worked with for years, these three tips will help guide you to better client relations.
Listen and Ask Questions
One constant in commercial production is that every business owner or manager you encounter loves talking about what they do. Your first meeting with them should be used for information gathering. Find out what exactly the business does and how they do it. Even if it doesn't seem pertinent to the commercial, small details can come in handy when you're trying to get inside the head of the business owner. Ask about what they hope to achieve from the commercial and follow up with questions that potential customers may have about what the business offers them. Being inquisitive and listening to everything the client has to say will show him or her that you consider yourself a part of their team and are invested in their success.
Consider the Client's Personality
While your primary focus is to help achieve your client's goals, you also want to make sure he or she gets what they want out of the production and from you as a producer. Often this means bending to your client's ego. You'll find that many businesses want to advertise to send a message to their competitors, or to gain local fame, rather than simply grow the business. They may not tell you this outright, but be mindful that ulterior motives may exist. You will be able to judge when would be a good time to challenge their way of thinking or when to keep quiet after you know them better. Some clients will be very open to your ideas, and criticism of theirs, while others will want you to do what they ask without question.
In order to give clients the best commercial possible, you will need to earn their trust. When it comes to deciding how long a graphic is going to stay on screen, it is best that they trust your opinion on the matter over that of their neighbor or delivery driver. With a new client, the way to gain this trust is to make sure they are aware of your experience and expertise. Don't be boastful or arrogant, but casually talking about experiences with similar productions and results you've seen, specifically where they are relevant to your client, will tactfully convey your experience. In addition, it always helps to wow them with technology. When in a studio or at an edit bay, turn on all your equipment. VU meters, vectorscopes, or even a near completed project timeline will tell your client that what you're doing requires training expertise that not everyone has.
By following these three simple tips, you'll be able to grow and maintain a level of trust and confidence with your clients, and give them peace of mind about how their commercial will turn out. If you're lucky, the client will return to you with more work and as you continue to develop your relationship, your ability to give them an effective advertisement will improve, as will their willingness to hand over the reigns and allow you to work your magic.
Mike Wilhelm is an Associate Editor at Videomaker.