What to say to a client

So, you finally get a face-to-face meeting with a client you’ve been stalking.
The opportunity to pitch your skills and your work.
You don’t want to blow it.
What should you do; say; pitch?

Our research clearly shows most clients want a relationship with a design partner based on trust. Clients want to work with designers who understand their specific business challenges and constraints. And they want designers to be proactive.

We also know a great relationship is two-way. It’s not just about client wants and needs.

We all work best with clients with whom we have empathy so it’s OK not every client will be a perfect fit for our services. Successful design agencies have pillars of excellence. They no longer take every project offered. They seek out clients within the constraints of their pillars. They may not turn down offered work, but it’s within that field of excellence they are more able to value-price.

How to find the right fit

Firstly, know what you are looking for. The most common problem with new business activities is a failure to narrow down the market. Many design agencies don’t identify a target or objective. So do that first. Identify your pillars.

Once that’s done it’s easier to do focused, targeted, new business activities.

Have a conversation

When you find the client, the best way to explore whether your services match their needs is to sit down and talk face-to-face.

Ask questions around what they do, their industry sector and their specific challenges. Then match your services to their need. It’s a face-to-face, eye contact get-to-know you conversation. It’s not a sales spiel and nor is it a pitch deck presentation. It’s a chat.

If you want the client/job/project, the best way to demonstrate you’re the right design partner is to prove you’re the subject-matter expert. It’s more likely to happen by the questions you ask than by presenting your deck. It’s on of the advantages of having subject-matter knowledge. It’s not about being different. It’s about being distinctive.

Problem with presenting a deck is, it’s most likely a one-way conversation.

Relax and be present, if you’re thinking about what you’ll say next while they’re talking it’s not a conversation.

Nor is it a conversation if there’s four people on your side of the table and only one on theirs. Great connections happen one-on-one. If there’s more of you / your team than them, it is no longer a conversation it’s a presentation. And if it’s a presentation it’s more mostly one-way conversation…

    Hope this is helpful. If it is, share it with a friend. Got a comment/question? As always, happy to discuss further, just email.

    Carol Mackay
    Co-founder Design Business Council.

    We help you build a more profitable design business

    We do that by
    • supporting designers learn management skills
    • helping identify and target better clients
    • increasing your team’s productivity
    • focusing on a sustainable work/life balance.
    We provide a library of resources, group and one-on-one mentoring.


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    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 … she helps designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.

    Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is a Board member at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.

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    An archive of Carol’s previous career is at mbdesign.com.au.
    Current work can be viewed at designbusinesscouncil.com and designbusinessschool.com.au.

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