Perhaps you have gone into graphic design thinking it’s all about creative freedom and the romantic notion of putting together the perfect designs to match your tastes. While that’s part of it, another main part of being a graphic designer is client relations. Working with clients quickly shows you that there is much more to being a graphic designer than making designs.
As a graphic designer, impressing your clients is perhaps the most important thing you can do to grow your business. Identifying and responding to a client’s needs is crucial to make sure that they are satisfied with your work.
This article focuses on four important ideas that you can use to impress your clients and have them coming back for more (or giving you those all-important referrals). So let’s get started:
Identify the Client’s Needs
Impressing a client is all about appealing to their needs. As a graphic designer, your first and biggest priority should be delivering what your clients want.
To do this, you must first properly assess their needs. This starts by sitting down with the client and finding out what they are looking for. This initial meeting could be the most important part of the entire design process. Find out what it is that they want you to design and then discuss their goals with their branding and imagery. You need to ask many questions and get a complete picture of the branding design they’re looking for.
It is very important to establish these benchmarks at the very beginning of the process. This way, you have something to use as a frame of reference and both you and your client have all the details out on the table. You will find it is much easier to work with someone when they have clearly outlined what they want. It holds you both accountable for creating the perfect design.
Be Up Front
As we mentioned, it is very important fora client to outline everything they want from the design process; however, as a graphic designer, this burden ultimately falls on you. You have to let the client know exactly what they can expect.
Some things you should let prospective clients know upfront are how much they can expect to pay, how much time you expect everything to take, and a little about how they should expect the process to go. These are realistic expectations and it is better to just get them out of the way than to have it catch them by surprise.
You need to be sure not to overpromise. You might find that people are a lot more understanding when designers let them know what to expect whereas if you promise something and don’t deliver, conflicts arise. If you know your process, it is very easy to simply lay it all out at the outset. Don’t create problems where they don’t need to exist.
Create a Product That They Really Want
Of course, you want to create a design based on what you discussed with the client at the initial meeting. You want to meet their needs and you absolutely should do your best to give them what they want. That said, as a graphic designer, a major part of your job is also adding your own expertise and skill set to the job.
You are the design professional, after all, so you need to take the ideas and aesthetic clients are looking for and apply your own expertise, skill, and talent. This includes doing research on the company and its competitors to create something that is in line with their industry and reflects current design trends.
It is all about finding that delicate balance between what your client wants and how to add your own expertise and professionalism. After all, if they could do it themselves, they wouldn’t have hired you after all. The best practice is generally just to keep your client in the loop whenever possible. Let them know how your work is progressing and be open about the process.
A huge part of graphic design (or any client-facing role, really) is in the follow-up. You want to deliver something that your client is truly happy with but know that your job doesn’t end there. Once you have successfully delivered a design, you should always follow up to make sure they are happy with what you have done and to keep up to date with their business in general. This can be something as simple as wishing them a happy birthday, remember, you’re just trying to stay on the top of their mind. That way, if they ever need further graphic design services or if a friend asks them for a referral, your name is at the top of the list!
Follow up is a technique that is lost on so many people in customer service roles. Once the job is over, your work as a graphic designer is not! Follow up is a great (and very easy!) way to lock down repeat business and referrals.
As you can see, your job as a graphic designer goes well beyond making designs and you really have to be great at managing clients for your business to succeed. The most important thing is perhaps to manage expectations. Keep your client in the loop the entire time and be sure that what you are creating matches up with their needs.
Remember, they hired you to do a job for them which means it’s up to you to make sure that their needs are met. They brought you on board because you have skills that they don’t so adding your talent, expertise, and skillset is a crucial factor as well. Finding this balance can be a difficult task but with openness and communication, you can really nail it and give your clients exactly what they are looking for!