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When clients view design as an investment, you win.

Whether or not a potential client decides to work with you relies heavily on your pitch to them. If they like the presentation but view the cost of hiring you as an expense, they may choose to look for more affordable options. However, if they consider the cost of hiring you as an investment, there's a good chance they'll decide to work with you.

Not promoting the investment opportunity is a critical factor that holds so many designers back from charging what they are truly worth.

One of the most significant concerns over raising design rates is that clients can get design work done cheaper elsewhere. Yes, it's true, but only for clients who view design as an expense. Something to shop around for the best deal. For clients who see design as an investment, the price isn’t usually an issue.

Nurturing an investment mentality in your clients.

How can you get clients to view design as an investment? Change how you make your pitch to them, and it will make a difference in your proposal success rate. It all comes down to semantics.

When you tell a client their new website will cost them $8000, they hear the price and imagine it as an expense they need to justify. They may feel reluctant to move forward and may want to shop around for a better deal. 

However, if you explain to a client that by working with you they receive much more than just a website, they receive a strategic partner that focuses on their business success, the same $8000 suddenly becomes an investment in the future of their business. If you can get a client to think about the return they will receive after paying your fee; they will be much more inclined to work with you.

The trick is to expand beyond the receivables you are providing the client and explaining what they can accomplish with those receivables.

A well-designed logo can bring them better exposure and brand recognition and make them stand out amongst their competition.

A well-designed website can generate more traffic, get them a better market share, help them monitor trends and visitors through analytics and increase their conversions.

When you explain what the client gets beyond the designs, they are much more inclined to appreciate what you offer them and invest in you. You can even change the wording on your proposals from Total Cost or Total Price to read Total Investment. It’s such a subtle shift, but if it clicks with a potential client, then that client becomes loyal to you.

An investment is something people want to do, whereas an expense is something people try to avoid but know it's sometimes inevitable. If you can convince clients you are offering the first one, there’s a good chance they hire you.

I've talked in past episodes of Resourceful Designer about building client relationships and how you want them to see you as their strategic partner and not just a design supplier. Clients are much more willing to invest in a partner because they feel like they will get something out of it.

What if the client still questions the price?

If you present your proposal as an investment and the client still questions your price, you should try explaining it to them in business terms more familiar to them.

If a client has a storefront, look at its location. Is it in a busy downtown area? Is it in a shopping centre?  Ask them why did they choose that location instead of opening in a cheaper location on the outskirts of town.

If the client runs a service based business and relies on their vehicle for work, ask them why they didn't choose an older model vehicle that would have cost them less money?

The reason clients choose premium locations or newer vehicles is that they are thinking of them as investments and not merely an expense. Yes, you could argue that mortgages, leases and loans are expenses according to accounting practices. But they are investments when it comes to the success of the business.

Store owners will pay more for a better location because of the exposure it gives them. Service businesses are willing to pay more for their vehicles because of the perception it instils in people who see them.

The same should apply to design.

Clients can get websites, logos, and marketing material designed cheaper than what you are offering. But if they genuinely want what is best for their business, they should be willing to invest more to get something that will impact their business beyond just the design, and that’s where you come in.

To paraphrase author and business leader Michael Hyatt.

If a design seem cheap, dated or confusing, potential clients will think the business is cheap, dated or confusing.

No business can afford to be percieved this way. The best way to avoid being viewed as cheap, dated or confusing is to hire a professional designer who will work closely with the business to ensure their success. That's where you come in.

So if you are not already doing it. Change the way you pitch yourself to clients. Stop telling them how much things will cost them and start telling them how much of an investment hiring you will be.

Do your clients know they are investing in their business by hiring you?

Let me know your thoughts on this topic by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Ursula

How do you approach Project Proposals? I feel like I spend a lot of time and energy on proposals, and I always wonder how much of them I could have prepared ahead of time to make the processes faster for my (potential) clients, and cost effective for me in terms of my time. But I feel like I should be approaching each project with a clean slate so that my proposal is individualized for them. There must be a better way. Can you share your process or other best practices in this area?

To find out what I told Ursula you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy by iThemes is the easiest way to backup, restore, migrate and relocate a WordPress website. 

With BackupBuddy you always have peace of mind knowing that your website is safe and if ever the need arises, can be restored with just a few simple clicks. 

Do you design client websites locally or in a designated sandbox? BackupBuddy makes it easy to move and deploy the site to its permanent domain once it's complete. 

BackupBuddy is the first plugin I install on every WordPress site I build.

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I want to help you.

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 feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com.

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