posted by Glenn Barton


It doesn't always make good business sense to tell your clients they're wrong.  But if on occasion you do tell them, it can benefit both of you - providing you're right they're wrong of course!

As a production company with years of producer and director experience in prime-time live broadcasts, it might not surprise you that we're no strangers to tense, pressured situations - often involving a concoction of strong personalities.  In those scenarios, it's the producer who has to find a way of keeping everyone on side, no matter how intense the disagreements. 

Those with strong opinions must be listened to and understood.  And even if ultimately their opinion is rebuked, that person must still feel part of the team.

Not just surviving, but succeeding in these situations has stood us in good stead when it comes to providing quality films for corporate clients. 

OK, so it's not like you're going to find yourself in the hot seat with an MD as millions tune in to watch.  But in the world of corporate, you can be expected to find yourself in the situation where you have to present a coherent argument in the face of a corporate stalwart who perhaps doesn't agree with your view.

And that's when you have to tell them THEY'RE WRONG! 

I learnt the hard way.  I said "yes" to a film for a client, even though my gut instinct was telling me it was editorially weak, and too ambitious given the timescale and budget.  But so eager was I to win new business, I effectively ignored years of industry experience and training, in pursuit of the buck. 

We made the film - it was good - but it didn't deliver on the main objective.  It was used - albeit in a different style than originally intended - and used effectively I might add. 

But guess what?  I got a one time client.  We made, they paid.  And that was the end of it. 

About 12 months passed, before I contacted the client again.  The person I dealt with had since left, but I tracked him down.  And he gave me my lesson.  I SHOULD HAVE TOLD HIM HE WAS WRONG! 

Ok, so I would have lost that one piece of business, but the chances are I would have got more from them in the long run.  

What I had forgotten was that saying NO IS NOT ALWAYS A NEGATIVE.  Most clients will appreciate you more if you challenge them, make them re-evaluate the message they are marketing.  If you do, hopefully they will respect you, and you'll stay in their mind for longer than just one project. 

You will become more than a sounding board.  You will become a valuable member of their marketing team.  And that's no bad place to be.

Glenn Barton is co-director of Sparkly Light Productions Ltd.