The digital age is upon us and business has evolved in a way that allows immediate, unencumbered lines of communication. The internet has effectively shrunken the world and provided us with tools that allow us to interact with clients from virtually anywhere on the planet. Having the ability to communicate more effectively and without restriction is an amazing innovation, so why do we still struggle to communicate with clients? In video production, we’re constantly interacting with clients for different reasons like establishing the concept of the project, negotiating budgets, responding to iterations, etc. We also have to acknowledge the fact that ALL clients are different and have to be managed according to their needs. We’ve put together 5 tips for improving communication with your clients that are universal in nature and highly effective in practice. So give these ideas a try the next time you experience difficulties in getting your points across or can’t seem to grasp the expectations of your client.

1) Transparency – One of the most important aspects of communication with your client is the willingness to be transparent throughout the video production process. A lot of your clients will have little to no experience with video production and need to be informed about a number of processes in order to trust that their money is being spent wisely and efficiently. This means speaking honestly about your skill sets, providing risk assessment regarding deadlines, or any limitations that could be detrimental to the project at large. We’re not encouraging you to share every issue that might arise during the production, which could ultimately scare the client away. However, clients like to know what to expect and to feel informed so that they can roll with the punches and adapt to help both parties succeed.

2) Managing Expectations – Every project is different and each can have complex problems to solve. Whether it’s a design challenge, weather issues, or a new software that has to be learned overnight, managing expectations will save you from disappointed or even angry clients. Most people are reasonable and if you’re straight with them about challenges that may come up during the project, you’ve given yourself some breathing room if things take a bad turn. It’s much better to tell your clients up front if you can’t meet their initial deadline, than promise a tight turnaround and not deliver.

3) Clarity in Budget Costs – This might fall into the transparency category, but it’s very important to address. Have you ever gotten a refill on your drink only to find out that the refills aren’t free? It’s pretty annoying, right? People don’t like hidden fees for videos either and having them is an easy way to lose a client. Breaking down the budget costs for individual expenses is great for clients to analyze and determine whether they should choose you for the project. It also looks more professional!

4) Understanding the Clients’ Iteration Process – Sounds like a broken record, but EVERY client is different which means their iteration processes are going to be different too. You might get a small business with one or two people doing the approval process or you might have a corporation with a fleet of people making iterations. A lot of the time it’s the clients’ iteration process that determines whether their deadline will be met, which means it’s extremely important to understand what that process looks like before you can accurately assess the final delivery date.

5) Establishing the Best Means of Communication – As mentioned previously, we have tools at our fingertips that provide instant communication. But which one is the best? This is something that you might have to figure out during the production if you’ve never worked with a particular client before. Email is great, but not everyone communicates well with it. Sometimes you have to get on a call, set up a video chat, or even meet in person in order to get the message across clearly and efficiently. This can be difficult for creatives, but I guarantee that your clients will appreciate an assertive approach to identifying exactly what they want so that you can properly interpret their vision.

Written By: Steve Cook, Creative Director (Fog Coast Productions)