When was the last time you thought to yourself, "Wow, I really WON at serving that client!"?
Ever? Until this year, we never, ever had that thought cross our minds. We were too frazzled. But after some intense soul-searching, re-evaluating our business strategy, and turning the tables on our out-of-hand workflow, we've come to that sentence – Wow, we're really doing this right.
How? Please, dear friend, let the sloths be your guide:
What does it mean to be an expert?
For a long time, we thought that being very skilled at what you do made you an expert. We could create a badass brand that fit a client's vision and needs to a T, we could do it on schedule, and we could do it with class – because we'd done it for years and really honed our skills.
But if that's what it takes to be an expert, why were we still not being treated as experts? After we successfully completed a project and sent clients on their way, we would have clients go completely off-brand, ignore our guidelines, and more or less let their brand flop completely. And we would end up looking ridiculous because the brand took a nosedive!
Something wasn't adding up. Seriously, you would never go to a surgeon because you were in dire need of an operation, undergo an organ transplant, and then decide to fiddle with your stitches, throw out your pain medication, stick another few organs in there for good measure and expect to be a-okay. And if you did, nobody would blame the surgeon when something went wrong.
A huge chunk of our journey from frazzled designers struggling to keep our heads above water to full-blown marketing strategists has been centered around figuring out this very problem: where was the client disconnect coming from?
When we put our heads together to really analyze the problem, our major mistake began to take shape.
Now I'm gonna hand it over to the sloths.
How we thought it should work:
👯 US: "Hello, client. It's great to have you as a client!"
😞 CLIENT: "Yes, I shall be an excellent client. I come to you seeking your skillz. I am struggling without a brand here. Nobody trusts or knows my business despite the fact that it is super baller. Can you help me out?"
👯 US: "Sweet! We love creating brands!" *We ask questions about the client's business, brand, the works*
😀 CLIENT: *Answers all questions about their business, brand, the works*
👯 US: *We work enthusiastically with the client, create awesome brand, finish, everything is all set*
👯 US: "All done! Here's your brand! Now, since we've walked through everything together + given you helpful reference materials to consult whenever you need, you should be all set!"
😇💗 CLIENT: "I love my brand! That was a great experience! I'm all set because of all these resources you gave me! You guys are awesome."
👯💗 US: "You too! You rock!"
⚡️⚡️⚡️And then this would always happen:⚡️⚡️⚡️
😁 CLIENT: *Has good intentions, but never reads resources, doesn't follow guidelines, ends up like this:*
😁CLIENT: *Brand is totally kaput because they've neglected all instructions. But client doesn't seem to realize they've let it go to pieces and shattered their brand*
👯❌💔😧US: "HOW COULD OUR CLIENT DO THIS?! WE THOUGHT THEY LOVED THEIR BRAND! AND THEY WERE SUCH A GREAT CLIENT TO WORK WITH."
✨💡✨ and then we realized ✨💡✨
- The brand education we gave our clients (while working with them) wasn't nearly enough to make them fully comfortable with their brand.
- The materials we gave clients in order to help them become comfortable on their own (print + digital copies of a brand style guide, which included lots of examples of how to correctly use their brand) were completely ineffective, because...
- Clients were so absorbed in running their business they couldn't spare time to consult the stuffy, complex style guide when they needed it. They might open it once, but after that their brand slipped to the back burner. Noooooo!
And the REAL lightbulb moment for us:
🎉It was totally within our reach to turn this situation around. 🎉
We had figured out what makes a real expert: the ability to anticipate clients' recurring areas of need and create people-centered solutions to fix them.
Now we were on a mission: Innovate to serve our clients' recurring needs like a boss.
And so we set out to give our clients what all people really expect from an expert: accessible, go-to solutions centered around their needs and capabilities.
- We began a more hands-on approach to education with clients in-studio. 📓💬
- We started using our blog as a platform to spread the branding gospel 🎶🙌🎶
- We ditched our old style guides and created a totally new reference experience for our clients – which we will be unveiling to the entire interwebz TOMORROW! 📆🙆
Now here's the part where sloths actually show you how to win at clients, step-by-step:
1. Know the areas in which your clients will struggle.
2. Understand your clients' motivations and capabilities – and tailor your services to address them.
3. Set realistic expectations for the responsibilities clients should be able to handle on their own.
4. Be there to offer a hand of support if needed!
Taking the time to figure out how to adapt these strategies to YOUR business will ensure that you're critically examining your own policies – not just criticizing those of your clients.
And together, you and your clients will be able to grow with the business to find success. You'll both be happy creatures:
Our realization that our client strategies were totally bombing was not a pleasant one. But we used that realization as a catalyst to take our business to the next level, and we've come out the better for it. And so have our clients.
Tomorrow we're showing you exactly how we've revitalized our clients' experience. Make sure to stop by!
Until next time,
We're working hard to show you what five years in business looks like. Comment here or on Facebook with topics or questions you'd like to see us cover. Or maybe just links to your favorite GIFS. You can also tweet us your feedback @hootdesignco or @averyenderle, follow us on Insta, come check out our Pinterest boards, and keep up with us on BlogLovin'!