How to choose the right clients and projects for your studio, with IYA Studio’s Matt Cottis
When a potential client approaches IYA Studio, Creative Director Matt Cottis tells us that, whilst he keeps things as flexible as possible, he considers personality, sector and project type to be key factors. He’ll also consider if it will do good in some way, and if the studio will find it interesting. But perhaps most importantly, the timeline and budget have to work for them.
When it comes to compatibility, Cottis says, it’s vital that everyone gets on. “We've learned from past experiences that if there is a constant clash within the relationship it never leads to a successful project,” he notes. “We’re fully aware it may not just be the clients’ side – sometimes people just don’t click!”
Enthusiasm for meeting up in person is always a good sign, showing that they’re equally keen to see if there’s a good connection between the two parties. “It feels like the best way to really get to understand how we’ll work together and having that close connection with a client is an integral part of a project’s life cycle. If we all understand, like and respect each other, this makes it easier to manage any bumps along the way,” he explains. Following on from this, Cottis says smiling and laughter are also helpful signs for a good connection. “It sounds a bit odd,” he admits, “but when people feel comfortable and relaxed then these positive interactions can reinforce a relationship you’re about to embark on.”
It’s important we share the responsibility for what we’re creating.
Sharing similar values is another consideration for the Deptford-based team. As creatives passionate about ‘doing good,’ it’s helpful that potential clients are on the same page. “We’re increasingly looking to clients and projects that are looking to make a positive change in the world,” Cottis says. “Whether it be from a social and/or environmental focus, it’s important we share the responsibility for what we’re creating and putting out into the world.”
Likewise, a client’s passion and enthusiasm for the project will inspire the creative team to create their best work. This is what makes the work interesting – a challenge, rather than a chore in the eyes of their collaborators. Maybe the client is someone they’ve always wanted to work with. Sometimes, they’re not an ‘ideal’ client, but the project and challenge they bring is an enticing one. Overall, Cottis reflects that even if “it might not be the most exciting project, but if we’re all showing positivity and a real sense of ownership, the outcome – in our experience – will be a good one.”
I think being clear on some form of budget helps everyone.
As studios and agencies vary in scale, they will be capable of taking on projects of differing shapes and sizes. With IYA Studio being a small team, Cottis considers the project scope carefully to ensure that they won’t be overworked. “We like to think we’re able to work quickly and effectively where deadlines are tight,” he notes, “but that does have to have a balance of our workload and ensure the quality of work we produce can be maintained.” Having clear sign-off points and in-project deadlines is one key requisite to guarantee this, “so we don’t get the dates creeping from slow responses.”
In a similar vein, project budgets can vary widely, too – a small start-up compared with a large established brand is going to be at very different ends of the scale. “We look at the economic benefit for the studio so we know that it’s going to help keep us financially stable, and then we’re able to look at some lower budget projects that are exciting to work on, and anything we feel is worthy of supporting,” Cottis explains. “I think being clear on some form of budget helps everyone to understand whether there is scope to work together – particularly when budgets are on the low side. This is not always going to be the major factor as the quality and type of project are often the most important factors.”
Finally, one surefire client red flag Cottis highlights is vagueness. When the initial conversation is vague – from project deliverables to sporadic replies – it’s difficult to have trust in the relationship. “This, in our experience, leads to working in freefall,” he says, “where you’ve never quite sure if and how you’ll keep the project on track.”
Below, he provides a great example:
Client – “We need to quickly get this done, there’s not much of a budget or time but we really want to work with you as we love what you’ve done for xx xxx etc.”
Studio – “Okay sure, be great to discuss the project in more detail so we can see if it would be feasible – as the budget is low – can you let us know a ballpark which will help us to work out what can be done?”
Client – “We’re not sure on how much budget we’ve got, if you can quote we’ll let you know if we can afford it.”