What to Do When a Client Pulls the Plug on Your “Big” Design Idea

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Five Ways You Can Save a Great Idea for a Law Firm Website Design

As the creative lead for our Custom and Enterprise projects, I often work with law firms where my point of contact (may it be the marketing director, a younger partner or a designated project manager) is more progressive than some of their counterparts, or more importantly, the long-standing partners. While it’s advantageous that this person is forward-thinking and sees our future vision for the website design, it offers a new set of challenges when they are not the sole and ultimate decision maker.

This scenario is best exemplified when we propose a new, hot, unique, and technologically savvy idea. Everyone loves it (or so we think). We get the green light to move ahead with it, even sometimes an additional budget to code it out. We’re all excited and pumped for this big feature. The whole office is thinking, “This is going to be the coolest law firm site ever!”

Until… BAM!

We show the execution, we’re 99 percent there, and all we need is the final partner sign off. They don’t get it, there’s too much movement, it’s too much, “it’s not what we see ‘other’ firms doing.” Sorry… no dice. (A sigh of disappointment.)

So, what do you do when this happens? Is it a complete loss or can this feature be salvageable?!

#1 Get the Client’s Concern

There is clearly a reason that this big amazing idea we have isn’t 100 percent resonating with some important members of the firm. Before you can even begin to think of convincing, pushing or reselling the idea, you must get the “why” first. What are their concerns? At this stage, just listen and ask as many questions as you need to completely understand why they aren’t signing off.

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#2 Remind the Client Why They Hired You

This is definitely not an “I told you so” moment, but rather a gentle reminder. Try reminding them why they hired your company in the first place. Law firms hire PaperStreet at a Custom and Enterprise level because of our legal website expertise and our ability to provide it in a unique and impressive way. Sometimes a client can get bogged down with all the details and lose track of what they said they wanted from the start of the project.

#3 Go Back to the Original Goals

At PaperStreet, we start projects with a brief that the client fills out telling us about their goals, objectives, pain points and other important information. The brief is a helpful tool for us to reference and ask if a goal still applies as it did at the start of the project. For example, “You said you wanted colorful and loved the bright vivid sights in our portfolio. Does that still apply? Or, perhaps you’re finding that you may love that look but it’s not the right fit for the firm – would you say that’s the case here?” The brief doesn’t mean anything is written in stone but allows us to ask informative questions to get direct answers about how to proceed.

#4 Empower and Support Your Point of Contact

We’ve dealt with a broad range of “points of contacts” at law firms. Sometimes they’re a dedicated marketing manager, sometimes they’re just an interim marketing person, and often they’re a full-time attorney who literally has zero extra time to be focusing on a web design project.

Regardless, one thing is for sure, they need all the additional help they can get in order to get their project completed. Empowering and supporting your point of contact can look a lot of different ways and is usually customized to their situation. Try these tactics:

  • Schedule a meeting with their superiors so you can all get on the same page.
  • Explain everything in a long email that your point of contact can forward to other partners.
  • Offer to schedule meetings in advance so that every milestone has a date.
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#5 Be a Pioneer vs. a Follower

A great idea is often the genesis of something new for the firm and a lot of law firms do not like change. It’s not an easy feat to convince a client to go for something really fresh and innovative. However, the key word is “convince” because if you’re “convincing” them, the idea typically won’t take. I’ve “convinced” clients many times and often they change their mind late in the game to a safer idea.

The real game changer is when you inspire your client to be a pioneer and not a follower. Rather than settling and producing something for them that was so two years ago, create the context of being a trailblazer. Their website can be the one that others will be asking their design teams to emulate in one year. Because after all, isn’t that the kind of law firm they want to be, “ahead of the game”?

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