It takes time to develop trust with clients but, at the end of the day, it all comes down to how reliable you are. Clients want to see that you can deliver on those big ideas by producing exceptional campaigns. They also want to make sure you can hit those deadlines. But when you’re juggling multiple projects as well as clients, how do you produce timely campaigns?
In this best practices session, we’ll take a look at tips for acing a client meeting, meeting new clients and, most of all, meeting those project deadlines.
1. Agree on the project outcomes
Whether you are meeting new clients or simply starting a new project with a previous one, it’s important to start off on the right foot by understanding exactly what is expected of you and your creative team. Make sure that you’re on the same page as your client by seeing to it that the client brief is comprehensive and checks off any questions you have about the project.
This is possibly one of the most important project management tips. After all, if you’re unclear about your client’s expectations, then you risk discovering midway through the project that you’re way off the mark, which will adversely affect your delivery time.
2. Set clear, achievable deadlinesSometimes it’s difficult not to be swayed by a client’s urgent deadline request. Nonetheless, in the long run saying yes only puts undue pressure on your creative team and leaves you open for disappointing your client anyway. It’s important, not just for the sake of one project but all, that you negotiate a deadline that is both achievable for your creative team and one that the client is satisfied with. Remember to leave a buffer in your timeline just in case something goes awry such as staff being off sick or approvals taking longer than expected.
3. Plan & track projects diligentlyAs well as following tips for effective client meetings, you’ll also need to take care of your own processes. Meticulously planning and tracking your projects is essential to hitting deadlines. This means prioritising and scheduling tasks so that they meet each project milestone along the way. You also need to check in with your creative team to make sure that tasks are being completed on time so that the final deadline isn’t delayed. It might be worth considering that more and more agencies are using project management software to plan and track projects with more transparency and ease.
4. Manage your resources effectively
It’s impossible to meet deadlines if you don’t have your projects adequately resourced, and there’s nothing like doubling up on a resource to throw an entire project out. Make sure that you carefully plan and chart your resources so that you’re not double booking or under utilising them. There are some great online tools like resource management software that enable users to plan and track resources seamlessly. Managed from a central hub, account managers can check in remotely and see what work the creative team has on the go to prevent clashes in scheduling. Resource management software also offers full transparency for creatives, so they know what priority tasks they have each day, week and month so they don’t miss any crucial milestones.
5. Be open with your client
One of the first steps to conducting client meetings is beginning with clear communication. Keep a clear line of communication open with your client to make sure you’re on track for delivering the project they want. If an issue arises which is going to delay the deadline, then you need to be upfront with your client about this rather than avoid it. If a second deadline is negotiated, make sure you deliver on it.
6. Be flexibleTo thrive in a dynamic environment, you need to remain flexible. New projects will come in, mistakes do happen, staff get sick, and you need to be able to respond to these challenges confidently while keeping projects on deadline.
7. Reflect, learn and grow
At the end of the day, if you find that you’re not meeting a deadline as often as you should, it could be time to review your approval workflow and iron out some kinks. For example, are there too many stakeholders involved in your approval process, are you missing vital stakeholder feedback, are you not getting comprehensive enough briefs or do you find you have a lack of transparency over your projects? You can’t change what you don’t know. Additionally, be accountable for your mistakes, learn from them, plan more carefully and do better next time.