The Client Connection
Vann Alexandra Daly is a Miami-born, New York-based crowdfunding producer who gives life to art she believes in. Alex was recently named the “crowdsourceress” for her expertise in crowdfunding. Over the course of a year, Alex has raised millions of dollars for clients including Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmakers and Neil Young. She has served on panels at distinguished film festivals and universities and consults Knight Foundation art grantees. In addition to her crowdfunding successes, Alex is a producer for the feature length documentary Cocaine Prison, which has received support from the Macarthur Foundation, Cannes Film Festival’s Fonds Sud Cinema, Sundance Documentary Fund, Tribeca Latin America Fund, Bertha BritDoc Journalism Award, and more. Her other films have been selected by the world’s most prestigious festivals including Sundance and Tribeca.
An extremely valuable part of my work is my clients. In the crowdfunding space clients are essential because I jump from campaign to campaign to campaign, which means multiple clients in intense capacities. As I said last week, each campaign is like a love affair; it’s fast, emotional, and intimate. I meet potential clients and then within weeks must be their biggest supporter—channeling my love for their vision through the Internet and convincing others that they should love it too. You can’t fake that, so I always push myself to find inspiration in the projects I work on. While clients are a huge part of my work process, they are important to almost all professional practices, as they are relationships we dedicate tons of energy and time to.
I recently watched a great talk about clients from the world-class designer Michael Bierut. In the talk he reveals years worth of insight on the ever-challenging client relationship.
Per Bierut, we should aspire to work on projects that excite us – with people, specifically clients – which we can learn from. Clients, he says, can be the best part of the process. They can catalyze change and push our work to new places. Of course, clients are human: incredible but also unpredictable. So our relationships with them are not easy; they’re challenging and frustrating. But it’s the bad clients that make the challenging experiences miserable. With great clients these experiences can be stimulating and worthwhile.
So, what makes a great client? Bierut lists off passion, trust, and courage. Great clients can be either interested or indifferent about your work but they let you do it and trust that you have their best interests in mind. In return you owe them loyalty, honesty, dedication and tenacity.
We tend to take great clients for granted, while it’s the difficult ones that we spend (waste) more time on. If you get stuck in patterns where you’re giving all your time to bad clients Bierut urges you to reverse it. Lavish great clients with your time because in the end, they will lead to more great clients. Be honest with your clients and build trust by admitting if you’re not the right fit for a future project with them and recommend people who are.
Once you’ve found a great client never let them go because with them you can keep on collaborating and creating in a constructive way over a long period of time. It will also allow you to open up to their networks of people (who are probably your kinds of people, too). In relating the relationship to a love affair once more, there are clients out there who are meant just for you. So go find them.
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