So, research shows we all like to work with like-minded people. People with like-interests who show curiosity in what we do and think.
Clients are no different. Clients like to work with design partners interested in their business, their goals and their activities. And not just during projects but between projects. It’s hard to do that at any time, but how can you do that, during a pandemic?
The easiest way is to start is to share information with current clients.
Share information you think they will like. Information that demonstrates you’re thinking about them, their challenges and their world.
Share information to make your client’s job easier
Example: A designer in our network knew her client was struggling to ‘sell’ information graphics into the C-suite.
Before the current Annual Report period her research uncovered a ‘Guide to Information Graphics’ – a book written by a designer employed at the Wall Street Journal about how well information graphics can communicate complex information. Her client’s client – a Marketing Director – was a ‘influencer or skeptic’ decision maker. Once he realised the Wall Street Journal was using infographics he approved the ‘new’ direction.
The key here is to understand why your client is unwilling to accept an idea then help them overcome the obstacles.
Share information to help your client solve a challenge
Example: One client working in the health sector felt pressure to talk to his aged clients about moving into aged care even though he knew it wasn’t their preferred option.
The designer proposed an inhouse ‘analogue’ guerrilla campaign to persuade management it wasn’t the right solution: they asked each of the elderly clients to note on an A4 card why their liked living at home. Then they took a polaroid of the client and the card. They displayed the polaroids on a pinboard next to the coffee machine in the office kitchen for all to see.
Each one had a lovely story to tell. George liked being surrounded by his grandkids to watch ‘the game’ on his large TV each Saturday. Nanna liked to bake cakes for her neighbours. Ethel enjoyed walks in the nearby park to visit a family of magpies. All simple pleasures, but none would be possible in a community residence.
It was a grass roots approach human centred design solution that had a huge impact – especially with management. The idea of moving the elderly was quietly dropped.
Share information about yourself
Separate yourself from other designers by sharing your onlyness … make yourself memorable. One of the reasons clients get three quotes is because they’ve assumed we’re all equal — it’s perceived we all deliver good, creative design solutions using the same software and hardware. Share information to separate yourself from the crowd.
Example: A designer in one of our roundtables works from regional NSW. She wrote a personal, funny LinkedIn article explaining how she started her design career when she was just five years old. One school holiday her mum gave her and her siblings paint and brushes and pointed them towards an outside dunny ‘needing decoration’. The rest, as they say, is history. (Her story was a little longer than that, and segued beautifully into talking about current work.)
The tale is a memorable and full of conversation-starters. I’m sure it – and she – will remain top of mind with her clients.
It is hard to converse with clients – especially ‘not current’ clients. Think about sharing information to
- help them do their job easier
- overcome obstacles or
- just make yourself memorable.
Something information that shows you understand their world.
Want more information like this delivered to your inbox every Wednesday? The Design Business Review is Australia’s only online design management magazine. It’s professional development information written specifically for Australian designers by Australian designers. Best of all, it’s free.
These articles talk more about working in the creative industry:
- What clients look for in a design partner
- How clients find designers
- Questioning the way things are done
About Carol Mackay
After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, Carol pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry.
Carol’s special power has always been an ability to use design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages. She believes design brings clarity to complex issues. From clarity comes understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.
As a designer she used those skills with clients like The Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts; Ombudsman schemes and Emergency Service agencies. At DBC she uses the same skills to help designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.
Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is an active volunteer at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.