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The Client Isn't Always Right.The idea for this episode's topic about selling your idea to your client came about because of a Facebook group I'm part of. Recently a graphic designer posted a logo she was working on for critique. The logo was an acronym, a single common word with each letter separated by a period. General consensus in the group was that she should loose the periods and the designer agreed. The hard part was convincing her client. After several days she posted a new refined logo saying she was able to convince her client that the periods were not working. Everybody loved the new logo.
A week or so later, the graphic designer let us know that the project was finished and the client had once again changed her mind and ignoring the designer's suggestion, decided to go with the period version as the final logo.
This is not an isolated case. Every graphic designer that has been around for a while has dealt with clients who wouldn't heed their advice. Unfortunately, it's part of our profession. We may have the skills, the knowledge, the expertise and experience but convincing a client to go against their own vision is sometimes a loosing battle.
In this episode of my graphic design podcast Resourceful Designer, I share some past experiences of both failing and succeeding in selling my idea to my own clients. Make sure you listen to the podcast for the full story.
So what is the best way of selling your idea to your client?
It all comes down to confidence. The best way of selling your idea to your client is to show them how confident you are in those ideas.
You need to remember that your client hired you because you are an expert at design. You may not consider yourself and expert, but in their eyes you are, and you need to live up to that mantle.
When selling your idea to your client you should present it in an affirming and non-dismissive way. And word your proposal in a manner that makes the client think they're part of the idea.
Use phrases like “why don't we do this?” or “We should do this instead”. Instead of phrases like “What do you think of this?” or “Maybe we should try this.”
Don't make your idea proposal a question. If you say “Maybe we should try this” you are installing some doubt about your idea and giving the client the opportunity to shoot it down.
By saying “We should do this” not only are you including your client in the process by saying “We” which makes them feel like they're part of the decision, you are also minimizing the chance of a negative response because it's not a question. You are the expert after all. If your client feels your confidence in the idea they may second guess any doubts they have with it and proceed with your vision.
Show your graphic design client why they hired you.
As a graphic designer, you have a vast knowledge stored in your head of design principles, colour theory, font usage, layout techniques and so much more. Use that knowledge to affirm your client's belief that you are the expert they see you as.
When a client comes to you with what they think is a great idea. but you know otherwise, use your knowledge to explain to them why their idea isn't as good as they think. Explain design principles to them. Explain why ten different fonts on a flyer isn't a good idea, explain why bevels, gradients, and drop shadows on a logo limit it's ability to be reproduced. Remind them that you are the expert and you know what you're talking about.
Clients get ideas from things they see around them and want you to incorporate them into their designs. I had a website client many years ago that insisted that every line of type on his site either flash, blink, scroll, flip, rotate, you name it. He had seen all these things on various websites and thought that including them all on his site would create more “action” and make it more memorable to visitors. It took a lot of convincing on my part, to the point of threatening to tear up the contract before I convinced him that just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.
Sometimes a little shovelling is needed when selling your idea.
Clients often question decisions you make. It's not to second guess your work, it's to affirm their decision in hiring you. They know you are the expert and they want to know why you chose to do what you did. Unfortunately, some of your decisions they question may not have a good answer.
Sometimes the decisions you make are done on a whim. You chose the colour blue for no other reason than it's what you felt at the time. You chose a sans-serif font because you just finished a logo for another client that used a serif font and you wanted to try something different. These are good enough reasons for you, but not good enough for your client.
You need to be able to explain your decisions in a way that will convince your client of them. And if this requires a little BS on your part, so be it. Now I'm not telling you to lie to your clients, I wouldn't condone that. But you should have enough design background and experience to explain your decision in a logical way that makes sense. Even if that's not why you did it in the first place.
Why did you choose a sans-serif font? Because of its modern look. Because of its uniform line width. Because you liked the shape of the letter “e”. All of these reason could be true and your client will understand them better than telling them you were tired of working with serif fonts. Remember, selling your idea means convincing your client, not yourself.
In the end, it's the client who pays the bill.
No matter how experienced you are, or how much design knowledge you've accumulated, sometimes there's just no way of selling your idea to your client. You shouldn't view this as a failure. Some clients have an idea in their head and there's nothing you can do to change it. All they want from you is someone with the skills to transfer their idea to paper or pixels. In cases like this you need to bite your tongue and do what the client wants. It may not end up in your portfolio but it will help pay the bills.
What do you think?
Do you have any stories of clients who's minds you've changed. Or stories of clients you just couldn't convince to go along with your ideas? I would love to hear them. Please leave your story in the comments section for this episode.
Resource of the week is BackupBuddy
BackupBuddy lets you move a WordPress site to another domain or host easily. This is a very popular feature for WordPress developers who build a custom site for a client on a temporary domain or locally (like a sandbox or playground site) and then want to move (or migrate the entire site with themes, plugins, content, styles and widgets over to a live client domain.
With Deployment, you can set up a staging site and connect it with your existing site using BackupBuddy so you can push or pull changes in as few as two clicks.
The restore function in BackupBuddy is quick and simple. Upload the ImportBuddy file and your backup zip, and it walks you through the steps to restore your site: your themes, plugins, widgets and everything else.
In your WordPress dashboard, you can also restore individual files from a backup instead of having to replace everything together. This is great for replacing an old stylesheet or a couple templates that you want to revert back to.
To learn more about BackupBuddy visit http://resourcefuldesigner.com/backupbuddy
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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org