How many ideas should you present to a client?

September 11, 2018 | Written by

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You’ve just spent days – perhaps weeks – working on concepts and ideas for a big project. Now it’s time to collate everything into a coherent piece of work to present to the client. But how do you decide what to show and what to hold back?

This is a question that often crops up in the studio when we’re reviewing work and preparing to present to a client.

At first it seems like a straightforward question with a simple answer: just show them everything! As with most things though, it’s not quite that simple.

Overdeliver, but don’t overwhelm

On one hand, it’s obviously a good thing for a client to see that they’re getting good value for money. We always try to overdeliver where possible – we’re all about building long-term relationships, and a happy client will come back time and time again (as well as providing the odd referral for new business).

However, presenting too many disparate concepts can overwhelm clients and convey a lack of cohesion and clarity. Part of our job is to explore a number of possible routes and creative directions. The more you do this, the more the ‘correct’ route seems to jump out at you.

Be selective

There is something to be said for presenting a single route that everyone whole-heartedly believes to be the right direction for the project. It’s shows clear thinking, clarity and confidence in the work.

When doing this it’s important to be able to justify exactly why you believe the chosen route to be the right way forward. There is no shortcut here. It takes a lot of research, hard work and creative exploration.

Context is everything

Things are further complicated when you have an ongoing relationship with a client who tends to favour the ‘safe’ option. Should you try to push them beyond their comfort zone? Is there any point in suggesting multiple routes when you already know the one they’ll go with? Or do you present your single favourite route, and try and convince them that it’s the right way forward?

The context in which you’ll be presenting is significant. Will it be an informal one-to-one meeting, or will you be presenting to a boardroom full of people you’ve never met before?

These are all questions we ask in the studio before presenting work. Ultimately, though, there is no single approach that works for all clients. The call has to be made on a project-by-project basis, taking into account the existing relationship with the client you’ll be presenting to and the nature of the brief.

Got another design-related question that needs answering? Drop our friendly team of creatives a message.

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