Monday, January 24, 2011

5 Ways To Be Your Designer's #1 Client

The biggest satisfaction for me as a designer is when I see the design strategy I created for a client flourish. It creates an unsaid "I told you so" moment for the client and reinforces for him or her that they made the right decision in hiring their designer. It solidifies a trust between designer and client. This leads to a different kind of working relationship; the kind that develops time and time again through every project and strategy and becomes something more. I have some of the best clients a designer could ever have. When I see their name in the caller ID, I look forward to speaking to them, but it doesn't happen overnight.

My goal in life as a professional creative is to design the very best work for my clients. What is a client's role? To be their designer's number one client. But how do you do that? The following is a list of 5 ways you can be the very best client to your designer and why it will help you.

Trust Your Designer
Don't start off a relationship by making your designer earn your trust, give it to them wholeheartedly. Not only will you see the value of that trust in your project, but you'll see it in your business overall, and that's the bottom line. Some of the decisions he or she will make may be different from your original request, but it's in your best interest to trust the designer to do their job just as you would your surgeon when you're about to go under the knife.

Your Resources Become Theirs
When the designer knows your ultimate goal and you involve them right at ground floor, they can help you figure out where to spend your money and tell you when to save it. When the trust factor is present, the designer will see your resources as theirs and will be invested in your outcome.

Your Referrals Ultimately Help You
When you go to the movies and enjoy the show, you want to tell everybody how great it was. When you do the same about your designer, you win. Why? Because when you refer your designer, you're saying you're proud of the work you've been doing and you want the designer to do the same for someone else. That keeps your designer busy and willing to go the extra mile for you when the time comes to work on another project. I often forward articles and business oportunities to my clients when I see that it could help them and always reward referrals with special discounts on future work. Furthermore, it's a great feeling when I refer my clients or when I introduce one client to another. Everybody wins.

Don't Make Them Ask You To Pay
The worst part of being a designer is being the accountant and when you pay late and receive a call from your designer, it's not a social call. Every designer has gone through the horror of being stiffed in a project. Whether the company goes under or the client skips town, it's a real drag to have to go through that. When you pay on time, not only are you respecting your designer's services, but you're keeping that feeling of dread away. Paying on time ensures getting your design comps on time and meeting your deadline.

Make Your Working Relationship a Friendship
That old saying "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" was never more true. When you're kind and respectful to your designer, they will return it. Phone calls will become lunches and lunches will become family BBQs. The best part of developing a friendship over time is as you invest in their success, they invest in yours. They'll take your call at 5:30pm or even take care of something for you while they're on vacation. The point is it wont always turn out this way, but it can be. It's a valuable relationship and one your business will thank you for.

Happy Designing,

Dennis (aka tanoshiboy)

Do you have a designer you work with that you'd never trade for anything in the world? Have you had a recent good experience?? Or from a creatives perspective, do you have an awesome client you value like no other? Please share any stories in the comments section and share.


Keyuri Joshi said...

Your points represent respect and ethics that are vital to business relationships... and even personal ones.
Trust is key and I like your analogy about trusting a designer like a surgeon. One way that I sense trust from any type of business person is when they take a sincere interest in my project. When my logo was created by a large company, I filled out online forms and never even spoke to a human. Not good! Though I was satisfied with the final product the process I went through was tedious. Next time, I'll hire you because you represent what a trustful, personalized business relationship ought to be.

Unknown said...

That's very nice of you, Keyuri. Thank you. When you're ready you know where you can find me. I'm glad you were happy with the end product when working with that company, but a good designer will always give their work that personal touch. It makes what I do much more fun.

Brad Johnson said...

I guess it becomes a symbiotic relationship with an equally beneficial outcome. It reminds me of how I've had the same barber for 11 years. I trust the guy and funny enough he's come to one of my family's bbq's. =D

Susan Oakes said...

Hi Dennis,

Good points, although I would not necessarily agree about trust as per a surgeon. Often as a patient you do not have a choice and it is a matter of life and death. It is funny I have a post coming up tonight re tips to be the number 1 in client's eyes. Will have to change the headline now.

Unknown said...

I meant it as a loose analogy. Im sure you understand, but I would say your brand and marketing persona is definitely something serious to consider. It's not life or death but it can be for your business if the marketing strategy is not right. Sorry that I took the title idea from you, Susan. It happened to me a few weeks ago with one of Rob Berman's recent posts as well. At least you still have a chance to add something to the subject. :)

Unknown said...

@brad that's a good way to put it. :)

Sheila Atwood said...


Balancing both the creative process and the business end of things can be tricky. Having clean clear contracts make a big difference.

I don't think most people understand the creative process. It can be a really fun for both the designer and the client. Giving creative license to a designer can be difficult to do. But it is usually really worth it.

Sarah Wu said...

Like you say trust is a big thing. I was suppose to work on a project with one of my friend who's also an amazing designer.He's client later decide to go with someone else. After the midway of the project he came back to him(us). and told him that the other designer mess it up and didn't do a good job. And would like us to pick up where he had. My friend didn't do it. But that also told us the client never trust us in the first place and he end up with a result not what he was looking for..

Unknown said...

@Sheila Giving control over to anyone for any reason is hard. But in some cases you know when to let go and let someone else take the reins. The funny thing is do people really think the designer is going to deliberately mess up the project? That would only ensure he/she never gets hired again.

@Sarah That's a great story! That client went with someone cheaper (no doubt) got what he paid for and decided he made a mistake and wanted to go back with you guys. It happens all the time and you have to know when to say no. He did the right thing in not taking the job.

Sarah Wu said...

Yea I know. I think the client most likely went with someone cheaper. I'm not saying lower pricing is always bad. But sometime it may be. If the quality of the goods were great when sell yourself short unless there's a catch. One my first freelance project I made two newspaper ads for a bank and unlimited revision for $200.00 It was the biggest mistake I ever make, because they just keep changing it (I didn't sleep for days). I was a student back then so I didn't know how to put my foot down, but now I know when to say no too. :) Cheers .Alway love to read ur post.

Michaele Razi said...

Awesome post, Dennis. A must read for everyone! xo

Unknown said...

Thanks, Michaele. Just trying to help.

Brad said...

great post dennis!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Brad.

Catarina said...

Great post Dennis! This quote from it neatly sums it up: "I often forward articles and business oportunities to my clients when I see that it could help them and always reward referrals with special discounts on future work. Furthermore, it's a great feeling when I refer my clients or when I introduce one client to another. Everybody wins½

If all people had such a win-win mentality the world would be a better place.

Unknown said...

I agree, but it seems with this economy being as it is, people are becoming more self-centered. At least here in LA. Thanks, Catarina!

KeepUpWeb said...

Dennis, What you're describing is developing a mutually beneficial business relationship rather than a customer/vendor agreement. There is so much value for both you and your client when you value each other's opinions and work together toward a common goal. Not everyone is open to this concept but when you find the right client, both of your businesses can thrive. No wonder you're doing well as a designer!

Unknown said...

Absolutely. It's too bad not everyone is willing to take part.