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I recently had the pleasure of attending another local AIGA sponsored event on NCSU’s campus. This event was yet another in the Design & Business lecture series, and David C. Baker of ReCourses.com was the speaker. Though the topic was on designer-client relationships in a down economy, I feel like I walked away from this lecture learning just as much about big picture client relationships in general and some great management insight.

David C. Baker

As I arrived, I was handed a very large packet of information along with a Recourses business card, and then seated in the lecture hall. The lecture opened with remarks from AIGA Raleigh president Matthew Munoz and Woody Holliman of Flywheel Design in Durham, NC. David opened with a comical plug for his business/website, as well as his book Managing Right For the First Time. After looking into his book online, I’ve come to find out that it is a must for anyone in the creative industry, not just managers. Excerpts from the preface, introduction and first chapter can be found here. David proceeded with the lecture by going along with the lengthy packet of info we were given upon arrival.

David discussed some very important issues at the beginning that helped set the tone for the rest of the lecture. One thing to keep in mind when working with clients is whether or not it is a good match up to work with a particular group. “Working for the Right Clients in the First Place” was stressed, and with good reason. I felt that this was the most important point made in the lecture. As a creative agency, you can’t just accept work with anyone. It has to be determined whether or not it will be a good fit to work together, and if it will benefit both parties. A creative firm must retain that “ability to say no.” In order to do this, the firm must always keep their capacity to do work below their opportunity as David illustrated.

Another important point that was made involved recognizing different types of clients, and being able to adapt when necessary to different circumstances as needed. In dealing with client relationships, communication is key. David highlighted this point by talking about different management personalities and how they can affect relationships with clients.

Overall, I think that David’s lecture was very insightful. I thoroughly enjoyed attending, and feel like I was able to take away some helpful/practical ideas & concepts to put to use in real world situations.


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Recently, I had the pleasure of attending another AIGA Raleigh event at Porter’s Tavern. This event was called How to Speak Business (Without Really Trying), and was hosted by Woody Holliman of Flywheel Design in Durham, and Patrick O’Neil of Railinc. The discussion centered around design & business lingo, focusing on topics like recognizing types of clients, questions to ask them, and useful concepts/empty buzzwords. The speakers were open to taking many questions, and for the audience to also share stories about clients in the past, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This was a nice experience to get to hear some of these real world stories and relate them to our own experiences. Below you can see a picture of me there.

AIGA Lunch & Learn - Bradley

The Recognizing Different Types of Clients section really hit home for us. The types of clients consisted of the Design Virgin, Divorcee, Bargain Hunter, Napkin Sketcher, Design Blind, and Speculator. I have to say that at one point or another, I’ve come across all of these and their definitions were quite accurate. There are always going to be clients who don’t understand exactly what it is that designers do, and it is our job to educate them as we work together.

The Questions to Ask Your Clients section was also pretty informative. It consisted of the typical questions you should ask your client in the design process in order to come up with a healthy solution. It was nothing new, but a definite reminder to be as thorough as possible in talking with your clients about their project and to do as much research as you can for the best outcome.

What I took away from this lunch & learn is basically this: You have to know exactly who you are working with, and how to communicate with them effectively to also accomplish great design, and in the process make both parties happy and successful. I look forward to attending more great AIGA Raleigh events, so please keep em coming guys!