Botched: Are You a Damaged Client?

Let me fix you.

Part of the reason I call my business “Honor Code Creative” is that I want to operate with some honor. And that’s because there’s a lot of BS in this business.

Creatives can be nuts. In so many ways. Totally focused on creative without a care in the world for the business side. Automatically hating any work they didn’t do themselves. Moody. Territorial. Making you feel like you just don’t “get it.” (If you don’t, chances are customers won’t either. I’ve learned this the hard way; shout out to the mentors who let me give it a whirl!)

Clients often come to me having been burned. It’s like that show “Botched” on E. (Can’t. Look. Away.) The doctors have to come in and fix a bad boob job or a nose with no cartilege left. Now it’s even harder.

If you’re a client who’s had a botched job, take a deep breath. Here’s how to move forward.

  1. Listen to your gut. The trust has to be there. The Botched guys do what they do only because the patients trust them. If you meet me or anyone else, look us in the eye and listen to what you feel. Ask for references. No matter how good someone’s work is, don’t work with her if you have a weird feeling, if it seems too good to be true, if your questions aren’t answered. And speaking of questions …
Listen to your gut. Not, in this rare case, your mom.

2. Ask questions. If you’re allowed to ask questions, it makes it easier to trust someone. A few you should be able to ask: How long do you think it will take? How can we keep costs down? Is it possible to start with what I had before?

3. Take a deep breath. Anything good involves a little leap of faith. That’s where #1 comes in. If you’ve found someone you believe in, you can’t punish them for the stuff that came before. No one’s saying to just trust blindly, but trust the person you chose enough to let them do their thing. (It’s like letting opening yourself to dating after a bad breakup. Not easy. But the alternative is, you know — cats. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

4. Say more, sooner. The more information we have before we start, the better. I have a questionnaire that I start engagements with, and the more detail clients put into it, the more on target the work is in less time. Now is the time to think about work you’ve loved, work you’ve hated. Color aversions. Things about how your field works. Blog entries you wished you’d written. Panels you’d like to speak on. Say more, not less. It’s always harder to hear later that you have say, a deep aversion to green.

5. Don’t build on stilts. Burned clients want to see quick results (really, who doesn’t?). But some of the things I want to do first aren’t aimed at immediate results — they’re aimed at establishing your brand. It’s because you need a strong foundation. I’m not just thinking about clicks right now (I could easily get you a facebook ad that says “big boobs here.”) I want to establish and agreee on the personality of your brand so the work I and anyone else does is on target. It’s an investment of time that saves time later and has evergreen value.

6. “I’m not feeling it.” This is a complpetely legitimate way to feel. And you don’t have to understand why. But a good creative will try to figure out what’s not working for you so that the next time around, s/he doesn’t repeat it. So please don’t feel we’re being difficult if we ask followups like “Is it something about the mood?” “Is the message not clear enough?” (We should NOT ask “How do you not get it? Dude, what’s wrong with you?”)

Tequila. Because why not?

7. Bring tequila. Okay, okay, this one is a wildcard. But tequila has no carbs, and does tend to make a lot of things even better. IMHO. Also dark chocolate.

After all, this is supposed to be life changing and productive. But it shouldn’t be painful.