Life after PowerPoint

What do you think happens when a client says he wants a “corporate” presentation ? Eyeballs pop, cash registers begin to ring and dozens of multimedia firms move in for the kill.

Welcome to the melting pot of hardsell, soft resistance and budgets that could hit the roof.

Sometimes, all a client needs is a simple, hard-working PowerPoint presentation; what he ends up with is a blockbuster that needs heavy-duty hardware and a mini-theatre with surround sound to view it in. In most cases the client digs his own soft earth, because he doesn’t know what he wants, he doesn’t know what he needs and he may not have the budgets for what he is embarking on.

So the entire pitch becomes an exercise in primary education; you need to explain options, you need to illustrate technology and you need to explain the different levels of a price ladder. This is where the client discovers fears that he probably never had before… like the fear of heights.

A primer for clients.

Things do get tough on the client’s side of the table. Tough, because you’ve got
to be accountable on money spent and answerable on every decision that you make. Most importantly, you’ve got to carry the can, if the project exceeds your budgets and falls short of expectations.

But what can clients do to make life easier ?

* Create an internal support system that provides information, offers assistance and is actually responsible for approvals as the job evolves.

* Make logical decisions on the level of technology that you seek. If you only need a first-rung PowerPoint presentation, don’t go up that ladder.

* Make a sincere attempt to work on objectives, a reasonable time plan and a realistic budget.

* Get all briefs approved by senior executives of the company. A good client brief that goes through its paces is an excellent starting point.

* Encourage the multi-media / design team to help you with the decision making process. Especially to match communication needs with compatible levels of technology

* Get the design team to map out a detailed response plan, with clearly outlined deliverables – concepts, scripts, production plans, post production, playback formats and milestones in terms of schedules.

A primer for design teams.

* Imagine what it could be like to be on the client’s side of the table. Understand the internal pressures of getting an ROI on project investments.

* Work closely with the client to understand marketing plans, communication objectives, project timeframes and cost parameters.

* Explain the intricacies of taxes that are added on to the final cost. In India
for instance, this can be a fairly hefty add-on.

* Help the client understand the technology platforms available, without a hard-sell on high tag options.

* Make sure the entire package includes a hands-on training / orientation session. Include a document that works like a help file.

* Build in a 12-month free support offer. In addition to being a useful value-add, clients will need to make revisions in content and visual support.

Any product / brand name mentioned in this article belongs to its registered owners. Any reference made is specific to the storyline of the article.

Life goes on …

I slip out of a nice warm bed and stumble into the bathroom. I turn on a tap… and there’s water. I flick a switch… and there’s light. I then wander into my kitchen where I flick another switch, which brings alive a fancy coffee maker – just the thing I need to jumpstart my day.

Coffee mug in hand, I settle into a recliner and turn on my TV.

I see a kaleidoscope of images showing the devastation left behind by the Tsunamis. (Till last week, this word was not part of the vocabulary of the man on the street). I see people looking dazed, lost and orphaned. People without shoes, without clothes… without families. Leave alone plumbing that works, they don’t even have a roof over their heads.

Many of these images are so graphic and poignant, that I soon find myself switching off the set…by pressing a little remote button from the comfort of my recliner. The people I’ve seen on TV don’t have a remote in their hands to rewind the last few days, or turn off the desolation they have suddenly been flooded into.

I feel guilty and helpless. I should be thinking of doing something. Maybe I can donate some money. I’m no millionaire, so how much could I donate ? Would the money actually reach them ? Maybe I can drop off some clothes at the collection point nearby…but will the clothes actually reach them ?

Maybe I should volunteer and visit some of the flood ravaged areas, to lend a helping hand. But my doctor mentioned last week that my fitness levels were at a rock bottom low. (I walk up two flights of stairs and I’m running out of breath.)

I’m saddened. I’m devastated. I’m moved. What can I really do that will touch the lives of these people ? My “reach out for the victims” muse is suddenly interrupted by the telephone ring. It’s an important client who needs a job done, in a hurry. “Wanted yesterday”, as we say in advertising.

If I don’t do the job, I don’t get paid. If I don’t get paid, there’s no food on the table. My bills won’t get paid. My taps will run dry. And there won’t be light, when I flick a switch.

Where do I go from here ?
Sometimes, the will to do good, doesn’t go beyond good intentions.

And life goes on…

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