The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Business Relationships Part 3

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising – Part 5: Business Relationships 3

  • do not rush through the presentation. Remember that this is the first time your client sees your work. Give him time to process what you came up with.
  • Spend more time on the significant design than on insignificant ones. Give your client the chance to familiarize with the design you want him to pick, but
  • do not dismiss the insignificant designs too quickly. Let him have time to study them, too. If you need an emergency break (maybe he favors one of them), you could point out similarities with competitors and lead his thoughts to the significant design (we took it to the next level in this design, it was a starting point for this one, this is a rather generic design)
  • The first time you should ask for your clients opinion is after showing him the best design. This is the one you want him to choose. do not let his mind wander by asking him to tell you what he thinks about the insignificant designs. Ask him about the significant one instead.
  • After he has seen them all, take the second best design and place it next to the best design. You then explain the benefit is of the latter, pointing out what makes it significant. Limit the evaluation and given choices by only comparing it to the second best design.

All going well, and with a little bit of practice, you should be able to steer your client into the direction of choice.

For more about selling your work to clients, we have a very interesting post coming up next week you should check out. For now, let’s move on with our next rule of Business Relationships:

4. do not be too shy to promote yourself

As a business person, you offer a certain service for a fee. If you are good at what you do, and you feel comfortable enough to show it (off), why not take the next step?

Advertise yourself! do not be afraid to practice self-promotion. If you’ve followed this post until now, you should know how to present your work to your client. it is not that big of a jump to present yourself to potential new clients.

As a designer, what counts is your work. You have to produce quality work in order to be recognized. And as a freelancer, it is in your hands to promote yourself.

There are a couple of classic ways to do so:

  • Create a portfolio
  • Create a website or blog
  • Get listed in local business directories and public institutions
  • Participate in contests and public tenders
  • Get connected with other designers and form a network
  • Apply for freelance work at advertising and design agencies in your area

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Business Relationships Part 2

2. Your job includes selling, so better get good at it

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.

David M. Ogilvy

Clients are possibly your highest hurdle in the creative business – and the most essential one. You can’t always live with them, but you can definitely not live without them. So you only have two possibilities: you can either give up your profession and start collecting stamps instead, or you can choose to become better at selling your work to the client, e.g. by increasing your persuasive skills.

Familiarize with the idea of handling your clients professionally. Put as much effort in selling as you invest in design. Unlike other businesses, where customers have a variety of static products to choose from, the design business is, per definition, the conversion of creativity into a product. You invent things. And if you want to be successful at it, you should learn how to sell them.

3. Presentation is everything

The beauty of our profession contains the predicament of a pool of different tastes. Everybody perceives design differently. Above the line of psychological findings, people are different from each other, thus are attracted to different things.

Let’s say you created six different designs for your clients Corporate Identity. You most certainly have a favorite one – it is the one you know to be best for your clients needs. But you also know that there is a chance of your client not going with that specific design. While he has more insight than you about his business, you have the necessary insight and knowledge about identity design. So how win your client for the best and most significant design?

These are things you shouldn’t do the points you should always follow:

  • Avoid sending drafts out per mail.
  • Never send initial drafts out per e-mail.
  • Unless your job is a website, never bring a laptop to a presentation.
  • do not hand out USB sticks or DVDs / CDs of your drafts.

And this is how you could do it:

  • Always present drafts personally. You have a personal relationship with your client. Give him the respect he deserves! After all, he is not buying tulips for his wife, but an identity for his company.
  • Walk the client through the presentation, do not just throw the drafts at him. Give him some insight about the reasons for every one of your designs. Familiarize him with your thoughts. Use your know-how to make it clear why you chose to do what you did.

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Business Relationships

This is the fifth installment in the 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising. So far, I have covered the following parts:

  • Part 1: Basic Rules
  • Part 2: Rules of Composition
  • Part 3: Rules of Workflow and Getting it Done
  • Part 4: Rules of Personal Matter

Set 5: The Rules of Business Relationships

In the 5th and final part of the 55 secret rules in design and advertising, we will deal with the part where you have to generate an income from your work. it is a fact that a designers job comprises more than just design. You know this, especially if you are a freelancer. As for thrilling experiences, if handling clients wasn’t a part of your job, you’d have to start getting into free-fall parachuting instead.

Accordingly, our first rule of business relationships is the following.

1. Your client always knows everything better

I want a flower. Show me a flower and I’ll want a tree. Give me the tree and I’ll ask for a river. Bring the river and I’ll demand a bucket to water the forest I wanted in the first place.

– Your Client

I’d like to bring up your neighbors sassy troublemaker. The one who is 3.5 feet tall, usually smashes your front windows and spray-paints your wife’s tulips. Even though you might agree with him that the tulips look a lot better with silver and toxic green stripes, and even if this might turn out to be a key experience for the kid, who might become a great graffiti artist one day – you very much object to it because these are your tulips. Sorry – even worse! They are your wife’s tulips.

If we project this scenario onto your situation as a designer, we could say that to your client, you are that kid. You spray-painted his wife’s tulips. In addition, you even dare to speak up and defend your art instead of doing exactly what he asked you to do. The point is, because you are the designer, and your client is – well, your client, you have to skillfully balance his wishes – and his needs. You have to prove that your approach is the professional one and, if so, that his idea of an approach is a bunch of crap (regarding that, also read Your Clients Bad Taste). Convince your client by acting professionally and embodying who you are – the designer, not a graffiti kid.

All of this, of course, under the condition that your client is new to design and that you are good at what you do. If your client has experienced working with design professionals before, your job might be easier.