Problems With Your Client? Give Them An Analogy

Posted on January 19, 2014

I’ve been a freelance WordPress developer, social media and SEO guy for over half a year now and in that time have been fortunate enough to work with a range of clients on a host of different projects. I found some projects more enjoyable than others and similarly, some clients more enjoyable to work with that others (and I’m sure that cuts both ways too). I’m pretty thankful that problems with clients have been few and far between but the most common issue I’ve come across is change requests. If you’re a graphic designer or working with clients I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say a change request late in the day has to be one of the most frustrating things – you think you’re finished, the job is done, the bank balance is about to get bolstered and then “I’d just like to make a few changes”, le sigh.

Some change requests are fine and I’m happy to bend a bit to keep clients happy but there has to come a point when a line in the sand as drawn – not in an adversarial sense but more in an enlightening sense. Some clients think all changes are very easy to make or take no time and that is not the case. And, when I need to, I’ll wheel out an analogy to try explain.

Problems With Your Client? Give Them An Analogy

Problems with your client - Robert Ryan - infographicWhen giving a client an analogy I like to tailor it to whatever profession it is that they do. Oftentimes that is the best way to demonstrate something as it makes sense to the client. For the sake of an example I’ll give you the analogy featuring a painter.

You’ve decided you want to paint your house and have found your painter. When the painter arrives you show him the rooms you want painted and together, with pantone books in hand, the colours are chosen and agreed on. The painter gives you the quote for the job and materials, hands are shook and start date arranged. On the start date the painter arrives and gets to work. After about 90% of the work is complete you decide to change your mind regarding the colour and ask the painter to start all over again.

I don’t know about you but I’m yet to meet a painter who will start to paint all over again without re invoicing for nearly the same amount of money again. When doing web design this seems to be a common enough thing – change requests late in the day. No other profession would consider it yet clients can refuse to pay if we don’t concede.

I think analogies like the above put in perspective what some clients ask web developers to do. If change requests are reasonable I’m all about happy clients and doing a bit extra but if we’re on the home straight and a change request sets us back to the first corner, then it’s analogy time.

What about you? Any analogies of your own for clients? Let me hear ’em!

4 Replies to "Problems With Your Client? Give Them An Analogy"

  • Bronwyn
    January 23, 2014 (7:58 am)

    Brilliant! I use anaolgies all the time. One of my favourite ones is “Would you ever ask a builder to build a house without a clear plan? No you wouldn’t, so don’t expect your web designer/developer to be a magician!”

    • Robert Ryan
      January 23, 2014 (2:17 pm)

      Many thanks for reading Brownwyn and you’re right – without a clear plan from the start web design jobs can get messy, best to try avoid that :)

  • John
    February 16, 2014 (9:33 pm)

    Great article, unique and fun (well it made me giggle a little), mainly because I use analogies on a continual basis, at least twice a day.

    It took me years to come up with an analogy that would resonate with clients when it came to the talk with regards to back links and the link building process, it must two years I have been using the same one, and typical (excuse the stereotype and I am Irish) with Irish people, if you relate it to going to the pub, its like a eureka moment within their mind when they get it.

    And for the purpose of this post, I will share my analogy (I might add it aint elegant, dare I say not even intelligent, but it works)


    Client – what is the benefits of getting links

    Us – along with a magnitude of other reasons, I always explain it in its simplistic format with the following

    Well, you know Google, well it likes to see that content on your website is linked by other websites (puzzled look)

    Well you know me, and well I am going for a few pints after work today and I have invited you along, you accept, we get to the pub and well there are six or so of my friends there, naturally as you are with me, they invite you into our company, are friendly with you and chat as if they have known you for years, they invite you to drop in for a pint the next time you are in the area, with or without me

    On the other hand, had you gone to the pub without me, you wouldn’t have known my friends, you wouldn’t have chatted and well you probably may never have got to know each other.

    Well Google kind off works like that, it likes to see that content (you) is deemed worthy by other websites (my friends) in that they link to it (will chat with you).

    On the other hand, if no websites (my friends) aren’t linking to you (don’t know you and don’t want to know you), well you will never be friends (Google wont think you content is relevant and popular).

    Thank God for pubs



    • Robert Ryan
      February 17, 2014 (9:18 pm)

      Hey John, cheers for reading and for the comment – glad you liked the analogy… You’re right re back links as well – they can help give Google an idea of the trust they should have in a site and all that good stuff. On the subject of back linking I recently wrote about the best links in life being free which might be of interest to you..

      And, re your analogy – I’m off to the pub ;)

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