Mistakes we see clients make: Part 2

Written by Adam Schaffer

In our last agency blog, we talked about thinking everyone is your target audience. For our next round of client mistakes, we want to bring up something that’s a little harder to pin down —

“Thinking There is Plenty of Time Before the Deadline”.

The reason this is harder to discuss is because time is relative. Right? For example, your perception of an hour long lunch break is different from your boss’… not just because of the perspective of enjoying your time away from the desk, but from a monetary standpoint, as well. You see a delicious sandwich; your boss sees (insert your hourly rate here) that could have been spent on client work. With that in mind, knowing time is relative on different levels, let’s try to jump on into this one.

For the sake of argument, let’s say turnaround on this tight hypothetical deadline is one week. From the client standpoint, “That’s a whole 7 days. Shouldn’t be a problem. The creative team is great, and they’ve handled tight deadlines for me before. What could go wrong?”

The creatives see this: “Oh man, a week from today? That’s a big work order for a 5 day turn around, unless I come in on the weekend. Are we working this weekend? We might have to. But I have family coming into town on Saturday… can’t miss that, they’ve really been looking forward to this! We can probably rush this through.” The point I’m trying to make here is that a week to the client is 7 days. To the creative staff, it’s 5. That’s a whole 16 hours of potential time that could mean better imagery, QA process, or development.

Secondly are the small, teeny details. Sometimes the client has all the necessary info, which is fantastic. It cuts hours of work out having to dig for exact specs, contacting vendors, waiting for response emails, ETC. But, more often than not, all the details won’t be quite exact. For example, a client might need a full page ad. No problem, right? Easy enough. But each publication has their own specs for bleed room, gutter spacing, file formatting, and delivery that need to be followed. Each publication is different, too. 8.5×11 in one could be 8.025×10.67 in another. And unless those specs are absolutely clear, your file won’t get printed. Remember, it’s not just the agency working overtime. It’s the print vendors, ad distributors, or any media reps you need to get your file into the hands of. And if the client doesn’t have this info, the Agency will need to contact the vendor, which could include multiple telephone calls or email exchanges. More time gone, tick tock.

Stress is a big factor in this — not just for the Agency, but for the client, too. Last-minute changes, like a print vendor relaying a different size, might mean the Agency will need to get sudden and immediate approval from the client before going forward with any changes. And just like the Agency is stressed, the client is, too. They might be away from the phone for a few minutes taking a much-needed respite, or on lunch break, or any other number of scenarios. But when it’s down to the wire and the file needs to be in the hands of the vendor NO LATER than 2PM, and the last minute change reformatted the layout of the document, AND the client can’t be reached for approval… then everyone is in hot water.

Lastly, there’s the cost associated with rush jobs. If it’s a print job, you could be looking at a hefty chunk for overnight turnaround or delivery charges. If you’re working with a new Agency, and you aren’t on retainer, you could be paying the creatives extra for their overtime as well. That adds up to a big chunk of change out of the pocketbook. Other non-monetary costs are there, too. If this is the first time you’ve ever worked with this vendor or Agency, don’t expect them to bend over backward the next time you bring a project to them. First impressions are hard to break. If an Agency turned in their first project to you late, you’d be pretty wary about giving them a second chance, if you considered them at all. Client impressions work the same way.

Look, we get it. Stuff happens! Information gets missed, wires get crossed. Once in a while isn’t a big deal. But too often we see clients make this same exact mistake, over and over. At 5ivecanons, we’re all about improving our process. It’s one of our fundamental pillars. So, reach out and connect. Brainstorm with your Agency on how to improve the process, and be on the lookout for the same with your internal team. Do that to avoid the rush, and we promise… everything will go more smoothly.