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These four questions will change your design business.Your job as a designer is to solve problems, not to create pretty designs. When you embrace the notion that your job is to provide a solution to whatever dilemma your client is facing, a few things will happen.
- You’ll start to understand your client’s needs better.
- Your clients will show more respect for what you do.
- You’ll be able to charge more money for your services.
After all, a solution to a problem is much more valuable than a pretty picture, no matter how well designed that picture is.
Before you can find the perfect solution, you need to figure out precisely what the problem is your client is facing. The only way to do that is to ask questions, lots of questions.
In episode 15 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I shared 50 questions you can ask before every design project. Those questions cover a wide variety of topics, including:
- Questions about the company hiring you.
- Questions about their target market.
- Questions about their current brand.
- Questions about their design preferences.
- Questions about a project’s scale, timeframe and budget.
What I didn’t get into on that episode are the four most valuable questions you can ask your design clients.
- Questions that will get to the root of the problem for which they need your services.
- Questions that can either change or narrow down the focus of a project.
- Questions that may allow you to charge higher rates because as I said earlier, solutions to problems are much more valuable than pretty designs.
Here are the four most valuable questions you can ask your design clients.
Question #1 – Why do you need this?
The power in asking, “Why do you need this?” is that the question is unexpected. When was the last time you tried to buy something, and the salesperson asked you why you wanted to buy it? I can’t remember either. That’s why this question is so powerful. It gets the client thinking, and it gets them to open up.
It doesn’t matter if a client is coming to you for a logo, a website, a poster or a trade show display. And it doesn’t matter if you think the reason is apparent, ask your client why they need this?
And then listen carefully to what they say for some real gems. The deep insights that could completely change your way of thinking about the project or help you narrow down your focus to one small area.
Question #2 – What results do you expect from this project?
The results a client is expecting can often change the direction of a project. As a designer, you may see better options to reach those results than what the client is expecting.
For example, your client may be asking you to design a poster for an upcoming event. However, you can explain to them, based on their expectations, that a postcard may produce better results. Listen to the podcast episode to hear my story of how this question helped me deliver a better solution for one of my clients.
Question #3 – How will you judge the success of this project?
This is another great question that can change the direction of a project.
If you’re building a website for a client, you may make different design choices depending on how a client will judge the site successful. If the client is looking for increased website traffic, you may design it one way. If sales measure success, then you may create it differently. And if it’s to elevate their brand image, then you may design it a third way.
How a client judges a design project successful can have a significant influence on how you tackle the project.
For example, You're hired to produce a poster for a local school’s drama club. Will success be measured by ticket sales, or by the awareness the production brings to the school's drama program?
In one case, you will design a poster with emphasis on how and where to purchase tickets, with only a little focus on the school itself. In the other case, you will design a poster with more emphasis on the school and keep only a small portion of the poster for ticket information. That’s why asking, “How will you judge the success of this project?” is so important.
The most important question of all.
Question #4 – And What else?
“And what else?” The power of this simple question is endless.
- Why do you need this? Ok, great, ok… And what else?
- What results do you expect from this? Mmm, mmhmm,,. And what else?
- How will you judge the success of this project? Perfect, that’s great, I understand. And what else?
Use this short and yet amazing question during any conversation you have with your client.
- Tell me about your target market. And what else?
- What marketing approach have you tried in the past? And what else?
Do you see the power of this question? By asking “and what else?” you are;
- Showing your interest to your client, which helps build your relationship.
- Getting them to open up to you, making them feel more comfortable talking to you.
- Getting additional information your client wouldn’t have offered freely.
Asking, “And what else?” will give you valuable information you can use to shape the perfect solution to your client's problem. After all, don't you wish you had more information before tackling any problem?
When you put these four questions to use, you'll find not only will your clients appreciate you more. But you’ll be able to create much better designs for them because of the information you’ve gathered from asking them.
Do you use these four questions?
Let me know 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 Jade
I have a huge predicament! Im in the midst of drafting a rebrand. Im doing drafts for 2 different reps (2 different contracts repping the same company) that know each other has contracted me for their design ideas. Both paying out of their own pockets.
Essentially they will be presenting these designs to a board to make a decision. Now the board themselves have been involved with one of the reps, contacting me directly to further refine ideas.
My questions is…. should I just can both original contracts and redo one with the company itself, that way everyones ideas go through the same avenue? Or continue the way it is and feel like s**t cause Im charging everyone for the same rebrand?
To find out what I told Jade, you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
Resource of the week Dual Sim Phones
If you are looking for a way to manage both home or mobile phone number along with a business phone number, you may want to think about getting a dual sim phone. A dual sim phone allows you to receive text messages and phone calls from two different phone numbers on a single mobile phone.
Here are some popular dual sim phones
- iPhone XS, XR and 11
- Huawei P30 Pro
- OnePlus 7 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or S10 series.
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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