Content clients want from designers

This year we did a lot of work helping business owners position their studio to attract (the right) clients. It’s an area we enjoy because it’s not overly complicated, but to be successful you must be forensic with the detail.

That’s what makes it interesting…

Where to start

The 2022 Up To The Light UK survey is a great foundation. (Yep, the survey is UK based, but our experience running a seminar based on the survey showed the content is remarkably relevant to the Australian creative industry.)

We know having a functioning, aesthetically pleasing website is valuable because it’s an accessible, online capability document. That said, before you commit extensive time and budget, consider these two findings from the report:

  • 83% of clients claimed not to have recently visited the incumbent agency’s website. Reasons for visiting the website were checking contact details, looking at a case study about their own company or showing a colleague who might be looking for an agency. So, clients don’t randomly browse, they need a reason.
  • 61% of clients were unimpressed by design agency showreel style videos because they thought it didn’t tell them a lot. They wanted explanation of the project and context.

So, websites are necessary, but they’re passive and it’s difficult to pull clients in. It’s far more proactive to push content out.

Content to attract clients

Up To The Light asked clients the top 4 factors that made great marketing content:

  1. Relevance. Clients wanted information about their market, their customers, their strategic issues, and trends affecting them. They could sniff out generic information from a mile away, so to be successful, content needs to be retweaked and repurposed for your different client sectors.
  2. Insights. Clients wanted to learn something useful. Bite-sized nuggets of information and insights. Successive ‘What clients think’ reports have said clients dislike large ‘white’ paper reports because they just don’t have time to read through to find the gems. They want to be given key takeouts and quick nuggets of useful information and insights.
  3. Authenticity. Content should be true to you, your passions and beliefs. The report suggests designers focus on the things that matter to them and with which they hold a strong view – your values.
  4. Real views, not bland. Clients loved strongly held opinions. Don’t just sit on the fence, make it personal start a debate, initiate a conversation

88% of clients would rather ‘discover’ a new agency rather than feel ‘sold to’

Add to this mix that 88% of clients would rather ‘discover’ a new agency rather than feel ‘sold to’ and we’ve got the makings of a great solution.

  1. Build clarity around the client industry pillars you want to work in (point 1 relevance)
  2. Research content relevant to those markets (point 2 insights)
  3. Design/write content positioned in that intersection between what matters to you, and what’s of interest to your client. (point 3 authenticity)
  4. Add value to the insights by using your lens to translate research into opinion, and specifically how you think it affects your clients. Then share it to be seen, active and vocal where the clients are. (Point 4 real).


Of course it’s not that simple but at the same time, it’s not that hard. New business is all about attention to detail. Drilling down into market segments and finding the value design delivers specifically to that segment.

The truth is designers are great at market segmentation for clients … problem is they rarely do it for themselves. That’s why new business seems so unwieldly. If you break the activity down into bite-sized tactics and focus on specific markets attracting the right type of clients is do-able.

And if it still seems too hard you can always contact us for help 😉



Want to continue the discussion? Email Carol.


Carol Mackay

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About Carol

After 30+ years running a design studio, I accumulated a pretty special network of fellow designers. One thing most have in common: a dislike for the ‘business’ side of design. Most are impatient with any task competing for time spent doing what they love – designing.

Not me. I love that intersection between design and business. I built a career working with Ombudsman schemes, the Emergency Services sector and the Courts. My special power has always been an ability to use design to translate the difficult to understand or the unpalatable message.

I now use exactly the same skills with creative business owners. I translate the indigestible into bite-sized chunks of information. I share insights, introduce tools and embed processes to help others build confidence business decision-making skills. More confidence makes it easier to grasp opportunities. More confidence makes it easier to recognise a good client from the bad.

Outside DBC I have mentored with Womentor, AGDA and most recently with The Aunties.
And I’m a proud board member of Never Not Creative. Ask me about internships 😉

Always happy to chat, I can be contacted here.


For a short while, an archive of my design work at
My current work can be viewed at and

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