Unique Strategies for Obtaining Approvals

In a file where I keep of inspirational articles that I have collected over the years, I came across this insightful article from Print Magazine’s October 2010 issue entitled “Devilish Ruses. Psychological tricks. Red Herrings and Poker Faces. Designer reveals how they get clients to say ‘Yes’” by Peter Mendelsund and Peter Terizan. 

The article highlighted some trusted, albeit controversial, tricks of the trades. The following are a few of my favorites:

Operation Overwhelm – overwhelm clients with a large variety of options; the client will then be forced to ask for your expertise in picking the best solution.

The Nitpick – while this technique goes against my core instincts, it is certainly original. Include typos or contextual errors, or leave off some essential element (like a tagline) in your concepts, this gives clients something to nit pick over so they feel like they’ve contributed, “the design proceeds to the next round unscathed.”

The Big Picture – when presenting new ideas to clients, focus the conversation on the big picture and big ideas, rather than allow them to focus in on details, like color or image selection. Ask “vague but persuasive” questions like “do you feel we have the tools needed to create your identity?” 

Birth Order – sandwich your favorite idea between two other ideas; “if the weaker ideas are frontloaded and backloaded, the middle sticks out.”

Either way, when presenting concepts to clients and obtaining approvals, it is always important to reframe any subjective feedback and refocus the conversation within a more strategic, objective and contextual framework that relate more directly to the client’s business objectives.

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