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Why saying “no” to clients is so hard

Posted by Ilise Benun on

I love Doug Dolan’s way with words. So I was lucky when he agreed to write the Foreword to my latest book, The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money. A few years ago, I even persuaded him to write his very first (and only) blog post for the Marketing Mix called, Facebook, LinkedIn or Neither?

Doug is also a regular contributor to Canada’s magazine for the design world, Applied Arts, and in one of their recent issues, he wrote about why saying “no” to clients is such a challenge for creatives. Here’s an excerpt:

Why is it so hard to tell a client you simply don’t want to do something?

Someone approached me recently with a marketing project she knew I’d be perfect for. As if that wasn’t enough of an alarm bell, she went on to explain that she worked for a not-for-profit, knew nothing about marketing, had zero budget and couldn’t make the smallest decision without consulting her tyrannical boss and a committee of meddlesome volunteers.

Naturally, being swamped already, I said yes. And things went as well as my gut told me they would. I got drawn into a whole branding exercise that wasn’t in the scope of work, then watched as various unpaid but warmly received ideas went straight down the drain. In the end I made less per hour than the kid who cuts my lawn — with fewer perks.

So why did I say yes? Because it was for a good cause? Because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt? I can always come up with some rationale from what I imagine is my nobler self. But the fact is, like many of us in this business, I seem to be really bad at saying I can’t take a job on, even when it’s idiotic to add one more thing to my plate.

Read more here.

Now, if I only I could get Doug to co-author a book with me (my dream)!

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