Are you talking to your clients?
Being a designer, having a regular stream of paying clients is a big deal. Without them, we’re nothing more than hobbyists. But here’s the thing; we have to know how to talk to them to have people hire us. It’s essential that we speak their language and not bamboozle them with our jargon.
If people don’t understand what we do, and more importantly, what we can do for them, why should they ever want to pay for our services?
Talking to your clients is a skill that is hard to master for some, yet it’s so important that we learn it. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on the subject.
You’re not selling to designers.
Picture this: You’re at a party, and you get chatting to a friend of a friend. They ask, “So, what do you do?”
If you’re anything like me, it’s a question that strikes a blade of fear into your very soul. I’ll admit that every time I’m asked that question, my brain freezes up for a moment while I stumble to find something that sounds remotely intelligent before I utter, “I’m a designer.”
Usually, that’s followed by a string of incoherent babble as I try to express to them what, exactly, that means, before I excuse myself, half-embarrassed while their eyes glaze over…
Back when I was in college, one of my tutors said to me, “Remember, you’re not designing for designers.” We forget that, sometimes, don’t we? We are creators by nature, and perhaps we’re a bit apt to show off what we can do – but it doesn’t help us when it comes to marketing ourselves. Because we’re also not selling to designers. People don’t much care about the technicalities of design – they just want to know how we can make their websites and branding speak for them.
If we can learn to adapt our language to speak to them on their level, rather than using design jargon, they’re much more likely to see how our vision can work for them – and hire us to do that. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about what it is that they need and the outcome of your design projects for them.
Use positive (and simple) language, always.
We tend to over-complicate things that really should be simple. Maybe it’s through a lack of confidence in ourselves, or maybe it’s to do with ego. But there really is a lot to be said for keeping things simple, including how we describe the design process.
Again, we need to look at each new project from the client’s point of view – they usually have some clear ideas on what they need (but not always), and it’s up to us to coach them to understand the scope of what can be done.
There might be times when what they think they want isn’t in alignment with their brand, or they’re just asking for the impossible. Rather than saying, “No, I can’t do that.”, try to use positive, straightforward language to help them to visualise how things should work. Perhaps, “I understand what you’re saying, although I think if we try it this way instead, we’ll get better results”, or “In my experience, that can appear confusing to your customers – can I suggest we try and do this instead?”
Help them see that you know what you’re talking about clearly and simply. Don’t assume that they will know design terms just because you do.
Who are you talking to?
What about you? Does the way you speak to your clients impress or confuse them? Does your marketing appeal to your ideal customer, or is it geared towards other designers? If it is, perhaps you could look at simplifying your messaging in a way that will grab the attention of future clients.
Need help or advice with your branding or design? Give me a call – I’d be happy to help.