1. Study the communication goal. Figure out what you are trying to accomplish here. THINK.
2. Grab a pen and pencil. Sketch layouts, draw type samples, note words that make you think of the way you want to communicate (adjectives are best).
3. Take a break.
4. Return to your sketchs/thumbnails/synonyms and start sketching a few rough drafts.
5. Now you can turn on your computer and build up a mechanical.
Throughout your process you may or may not consult with your client. But never ask what they "want", ask what they are trying to communicate, what they are trying to achieve. Ask them about their USP, the "tone" of their business, who their clients/customers are. etc.
THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS TO GOOD DESIGN.
edit: Remember that you are the consultant. If the client has to art direct you there is a problem. Lawyers don't ask their clients how to write a tort, for example.