Getting Better Clients and Creating Value

So I wanted to share this interesting story about a client lead that I met with a couple of weeks ago. This company reached out to us wanting to revamp some of their product overviews, product catalog and website. So I said great! We really like the products that they were selling and wanted to help them out. I set up a meeting with the contact and was introduce to two new individuals. The main contact was in charge of things and he left the room without listening to anything I had to say. I went ahead and spoke with the two individuals and we went over what Vanguard can do for them. They seemed enthusiastic about working with us and really liked the solutions we were offering. That is until they asked for our hourly rate. The man in charge then came back in ready to flip a table figuratively. He then proceeded to lecture me on how my price was absurd and that he can get someone else to do it faster and cheaper. I was practically booted out of the place.

Needless to say we did not get the gig and that turned out to be a good thing for us. Here’s why…

Why you shouldn’t work with just anybody

When your starting out as either a freelancer or a small creative agency, sometimes you would be willing to suck it up and deal with a bad client. The fear of not having regular work come in can sometimes get to you if you’re pressed on paying your bills for the month. I believe it doesn’t have to be this way. When meeting with a prospective client here are some signs that should immediately tell you to avoid them at all costs:

  • Someone who stubbornly ignores any advice you give them and thinks they’re always right – A client should come to you because of your expertise and insight not solely because you make things pretty. Remember to always be respectful in the way that you present your ideas as well.
  • Someone who demands constant revisions and changes – Be sure to outline exactly how many revisions a client gets in writing before starting any work past initial sketches.
  • Someone not willing to pay your fee or hourly rate – This one is a no brainer. If they’re too cheap to give you a deposit before starting work or agree to your hourly rate then they aren’t properly invested into their own brand and don’t see the value of good design.

Basically, if it doesn’t feel right. Don’t do it and don’t be afraid to fire a client. These people aren’t worth your time and you shouldn’t lose sleep trying to make them happy. If you’ve taken the plunge into doing full time freelance work or working towards creating a name for your small agency, you must learn how to pick the right client for you.

Here is a great video from The Design Council that outlines the value of design and how it can help your business thrive.

“Think of design as a really flexible and powerful tool that can help with everything your business needs to thrive”

Choosing the right client

In recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to meet some awesome people at Startup Weekend Fredericksburg. After the event, we have continued to work with our teams as well as getting to know members of the other teams and creating new partnerships with them. We’re excited to be working with the other teams and helping them achieve the next level of their business. Everyone had a great, innovative idea to bring to the table and we’re heavily invested in their products and services. These are the kind of people we want to work with and are great examples of ideal clients. Some signs that you have a found a good client to work with are:

  • They have primarily come to you for your creative expertise and insight – Someone who is willing to listen to you with open ears and take your advice to heart is someone you want to work with.
  • They are open to collaboration – You can’t have a successful project if you’re not fully collaborating with your client.
  • They see you more like a business partner rather than a freelancer – It’s important for the client to see you as an equal and really see the benefits of working with you. You’ve both working together to reach a common goal.

Differentiate yourself

In order to really differentiate yourself from all the other freelancers and small agencies, do some real research on your potential clients and develop sustainable solutions that you can propose in order to win their business. It’s not about how pretty or trendy you make their brand or website, it’s about really getting touch with their core audience and getting them to act. If you’re a freelancer, I strongly urge you to expand your knowledge on marketing and business. This will be a key factor in getting new clients and keeping them in the long run. Designers are a dime a dozen these days and being a great designer alone will not win you the clients you want. In the end it’s really about bringing real value to yourself and your business and that’s what will set you apart from everyone else and make a difference.

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