The Client Is Always Right

Yeah, yeah, I know. “The Client Is Always Right.” Cliché city.

But I’m here to tell you that one of the key customer relationship strategies to successful freelancing is knowing when and how to disagree with a client…and when to simply give in.

Last week, I received an assignment from one of my longtime graphic design partners for a company that needed some help with a brochure. First, they asked for some thoughts on a new tagline, and I supplied about a dozen ideas. They ended up sticking with their original, which I won’t reveal specifically here, but let’s just say it used the words “dedication” and “value” without giving any indication as to what the company actually does.

So I had an inkling of what I was dealing with. The second task was to edit the brochure text the company supplied. It wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever seen; I cleaned it up as well as I could, fixing the various typos, awkward constructions, and Randomly Capitalized Words.

You might guess what happened next: The final proof came back from my designer with a note: “I’m sure all the edits were all grammatically correct, but sometimes the client wants what they want.”

I proofread it one more time, chuckled at the places where they’d retained the original language, alerted them to a misspelled word that they’d apparently wanted to keep, and moved on. I could have fought the noble fight for grammatical perfection and consistency, but why bother? If they’re happy with it, so am I.

Call me a mercenary. The piece won’t going into my portfolio, but the check will be going into my bank account.

Jake Poinier has been freelancing since 1999. He blogs as Dr. Freelance and runs Phoenix-based Boomvang Creative Group.