Buying Creative Services #3

Last week Okanagan melons were at Hop On Farms in south Burnaby. This harvest has a very short window and, as far as I’m concerned, amounts to a small gift from a few farmers who take the time to grow them. I bought two even though I am only one. Beside me, a wife said to her husband, “I wonder if they’re any good?” He didn’t seem at all interested. She bought the California one in the next bin. She wasn’t taking a three dollar chance or disrupting her fifty-year habit.

That’s what you’re up against when you launch a new product. People aren’t curious, they do not like surprises, even good ones that only cost three dollars. Go figure. But this lemming mentality challenges designers to make your product the thing that speaks to the buyer.

Part 1 covered who we creative types are. Part 2 is about finding the right one for you. This part is about you and how to finesse your role as a great client so you get the attention you deserve.

What you can do

Ask what you need to ask. Clients not understanding how something works is a daily occurrence for all professionals, just ask a mechanic. But it helps to know that in this kind of work there’s lots of ego and emotion – yours and ours. A good dose of the following will make your life easier.


Creative work is a back and forth thing. It’s not immediately decisive because there are so many ways of doing one thing right. Every stage is laid out in your contract and scope document, but you need to be ready to put days aside, for phone calls, meetings, decisions, disappointments, sign offs, and more decisions. Your attention will be required – usually when your head is down a broken drain or a wrong order came from a supplier. Piece by piece you will see your brand, logo, brochure, website, whatever, emerge. It’s quite something. Best of all, it makes you articulate your passion, something you may not have ever done.


If you ask a baker to make a peach pie because it will be better than the one you can make, are you going to hover around the kitchen and tell the baker how to make the pie? No, you’re going to go off and do something like write (yet) another proposal for the bank. You’re going to stand back and let the creative pros do what we do best. You’ve already done the hard part, you’ve found someone you trust. So trust yourself to trust them.


Listen hard, ask questions. This is a collaboration of your imagination and ours, where your business is being interpreted by us. It’s plenty weird to have us messing with your creation, but you hired us to take you to another level and not just render what’s in your head, right? Right? This is our kind of communication, our expertise. We’re something like the driver and you’re the navigator. Be thoughtful and curious with your responses. You’ll be surprised how helpful this is in getting what you love.

Go for it, be the chosen melon.

If all this sounds like more than you want, you can hire me to be your creative contractor. Like getting your kitchen redone, you hire a contractor. I look after the whole lot and you.