Congratulations — You (Almost) Have the Job

The client has seen your work. The creative team recommends you. You’re on a first-name basis with the art buyer. Isn’t that enough to get the job? Absolutely…sometimes. But other times it won’t be so simple.

In case you haven’t been down this road before, I’ve devised an exam of sorts to test your mental preparedness. Let’s see how you do:

1. The client loves your work, and someone else’s too. They’d like a treatment by the end of the week to help them decide. Your initial reaction is:

a. What’s a treatment?
b. Dagnabbit. I’m shooting this week. I need an extension.
c. Why the fudge-nuts should I have to do this?! They either like my work or they don’t.
d. Make it happen. Whatever it takes just make it happen.

If you answered D, proceed to the next question. If you didn’t, read the question again, answer D and then proceed to the next question.

2. Great. They can’t wait to get it. Now, in this proposal, it would be a good idea to:

a. Be verbose, inarticulate, and indirect.
b. Make promises that are unrealistic.
c. Exclude links to any behind-the-scenes video, social media, blog posts, LinkedIn recommendations, and/or articles written by you or about you that are relevant to the job and highlight your personality.
d. Do the exact opposite of A, B, and C.

Excellent. Glad that one didn’t fool you.

3. Okay, now they have some insight into who you are, but they’d really like to meet and get more insight into your process. Would you be willing to:

a. Have a quick phone chat at your earliest convenience with the creative director at the ad agency, schedule an hour Skype day after tomorrow with the brand team, and then travel cross-country for a ½ hour meeting with the VP of Corporate Communications “sometime late next week.”
b. Let the client(s) tag along on your next shoot.
c. Do a test shoot for time and materials.
d. Do a test shoot for free.

Tough one. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons and decide on your own. But they’re not done yet…

4. They think your price is coming in a little too high. It needs to come down. And they don’t want to pay license fees. They want a project rate instead. You’d say:

a. Nothing. You’re paralyzed with fear when it comes to negotiating.
b. That’s it. I’m out.
c. Okay. I just need the work.
d. If there’s future work that can come from this then maybe some compromise is worth considering.

5. Now, in doing all of this, you should make sure you come across like:

a. A knucklehead who’s never done anything like this before.
b. Arrogant as all hell. Because clients love attitude.
c. You’re desperate. Saying yes to everything will lock this up.
d. Someone who has interesting stories to tell, rich experience to share, and a unique way of looking at the world. In short, someone they’d want to hang out with.

6. Awesome. That’s it. They’ll be in touch. Now, how do you feel?

a. Like I could have done more.
b. Like I compromised my work and/or my integrity.
c. Like I’m being taken for granted.
d. Super excited. I negotiated where I thought it appropriate to do so and I stood my ground when I thought they might be pushing too far. I was professional and respectful. I listened to their needs, did my best to understand their POV, and gave it all I had. I hope that in doing all of this they appreciate the effort I made and the value I can bring to the project and their brand.

Not only do I hope you book the job. I hope you feel good about booking it too. Best of luck(!)

Ethan David Kent

15 years years ago ethan david kent (edk) began developing award-winning advertising work for clients seeking bold new ways to stand up and stand out. His early portfolio includes a cast of global leaders in automotive, CPG, fashion, finance, health, and consumer tech for which his contributions in design, copy, strategy, and user experience were highly lauded. To date he's created everything from award-winning mobile apps to groundbreaking social programs to multi-faceted cross-platform campaigns for J.P. Morgan, Chase, Central Park Conservancy, Kraft, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and others too numerous to mention. For six years he served as Executive Creative Director for the celebrated ad agency, mcgarrybowen. Today, he is creative-at-large for established and emerging companies who enjoy a little bit of awesome in every idea.

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  • Alex McKnight - 5 years ago

    So funny. I read this article because of those opening lines. Nice hook!
    I am actually in this situation right now.
    As easy as it is to go with some of your gut reaction(s) (for example “Why the fudge-nuts should I have to do this?! They either like my work or they don’t”), I’m realizing that I am one of the luckiest people in the world to do what I want to do and get paid for it too! That being said, sometimes you have to do more than you want to do in order to be all that you want to be.
    Good, quick read with lots of answers found when you read “in between the lines”. Thanks AA for the help!

  • Ashley Venerable - 4 years ago

    This is so helpful and good questions to ask ourselves. I just recently went through a whole thing about licensing with a client and thought maybe I was in the wrong for sticking to my guns on that. I never in a million years thought people would try to fight you for the right to your OWN work! Great read, thanks for writing this!