Stop “Fetching Rocks” and Start Giving Clear Instructions

Stop “Fetching Rocks” and Start Giving Clear Instructions

Anybody that’s ever worked in a creative role can tell you a lot about how much time and effort gets wasted when customers are unable to accurately describe what they want. It’s an expensive and inefficient problem, but it can easily be avoided by giving clear instructions.

A really good analogy for this is the “fetch a rock” phrase often used by creative workers. In this example, a customer comes to a creative team and asks them to fetch a rock. They don’t describe anything beyond that, so the team has to go out and pick a rock they think the customer will like. Usually, the first rock isn’t the right one. So, it’s back to the yard to look for another rock.

If the customer would have said they wanted a grey rock about as large as a baseball, the team would have had better examples to initially present. Just that small modicum of direction would have been enough to prevent wasted time and money.


Qualifiers Make All the Difference

The customer doesn’t have to be a visionary person, they just need to provide a few basic details about their preferences. To make our fetch-a-rock analogy into a real-world example, let’s imagine a business owner is contracting a graphic designer to design them a new logo for their startup company. It’s very common for the business owner to be unsure of what they want, so the designer may ask some questions and develop a preliminary set of logos for review.

While examining the logos, the business owner should be providing specific details about their perspectives. Saying something like “I don’t like this one” falls too short. It doesn’t inform the artist well enough and will lead to wasted time. Instead, a little bit of qualifying information should be added such as “I don’t like the shape of this one.”

That seems simplistic, but it helps a great deal. Now the artist knows not to put that particular shape into the next lineup of logos. Without that little bit of qualifying information, the artist might have used that shape again and another round of revisions would be needed. Extra revisions mean extra costs for all parties involved.


A Point Person is Cheaper Than a Committee

Another really good way to save money through stronger feedback is to appoint a decision maker with actual decision-making authority over a contracted creative project. The old phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” really applies here, because more people involved invariably means more revisions and more costs.

When approval is required from multiple people before moving forward with a project, each person in that chain tends to make a change or suggestion – perhaps because they feel like it’s something they’re supposed to do. When this happens, the amount of changes and revision work will add up fast and could generate thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs. It would be better to let the decision making be handled by one or only a few people to keep things streamlined and more efficient.


Take Time to Inform

If a creative team is going to have the best possible start on a client project, they’re going to want to know a lot about the activities of the client company they’re serving. That’s why clear instructions are crucial for a contracting company to be capable of explaining things about their industry, their client base, and their overall goals for the project at hand. The more informed a creative team is, the more accurate their work will be. Greater insight will lead to fewer missed targets and fewer revisions.


Want to Save Money?

It might sound trivial, but clear instructions are great cost-saving tools when working on any kind of creative project. A customer is more likely to achieve their desired results when they’re able to clearly convey their wishes to their creative teams. And less time spent on back-and-forth revisions will save significant project hours and expenses.