In the design world, competition is steep — a fact you have probably already discovered for yourself. However, there are things you can do to make your business standout from the rest.
Just like the monarch butterflies return to the same place each year to over-winter, happy customers will return again and again to the same designer for all their needs. Here’s a quick guide on how to make your design agency more appealing to potential clients.
Focusing your efforts on local eateries, boutiques, retail shops, service providers, and others is one way to make your business more appealing. When business owners see the names of neighboring businesses in your portfolio or testimonials, it gives a certain clout to your reputation.
Small business owners want to be cared for in a personalized way. These men and women often feel a local designer will better understand their audiences interests and aesthetic persuasions. And it’s likely true. As a local yourself, you’re aware of the nuances that differentiate one business from another.
Although you don’t have to limit yourself only to local clients, placing a heavy emphasis on this core list of potentials will improve your regional appeal. Plus, you can strengthen your search engine results by stressing certain local and regional keywords.
Across the Board Branding
If you are a self-employed designer, you probably have multiple sources of inbound client referrals — freelance sites, social media sites, and even Craigstlist. In order to maintain a professional appearance, always keep your branding the same across the board.
Logos, graphics, website theme, print materials, and copywriting should have a similar style and color theme on every site where your services are advertised. If you make changes to your website’s look, be sure to make the same changes elsewhere. This gives the image of someone who cares deeply about their own design experience and will therefore care about client design.
Package and À La Carte Options
To give a sense of flexibility to your clients, offer both packaged services and à la carte options. This way customers always feel they can upgrade, change, or buy individual services on an as needed basis. This low-pressure sales format gives choices without cutting into your bottom line.
Also, be sure to make your prices easy to see, understandable, and the same for all sites where you promote your work. Customers want to be sure they’re getting the same service as other clients.
According to research by a start-up business support company, pricing should be presented in tables. Present the pricing structures in a way to maximizes the perceived value to cost ratio, placing the most popular option in the middle. In addition, don’t try to hide the pricing — keep it obviously above the fold so customers feel you are confident about what you’re offering.
Clearly Defined Terms and Conditions
Alongside a clear pricing structure should be clearly defined terms and conditions. Potential customers want to know what to expect before placing an order. This not only gives the appearance of professionalism, but it is also just a solid business method.
Presentation of your terms and conditions can be done in several ways — a concise PDF with basic legal terms or a FAQs page written for the average consumer are both helpful.
Providing terms and conditions upfront will eliminate a lot of doubt and questioning by the customer. It also helps you stay organized. A few basic pieces of information to include are pricing, payment options, delivery timelines, revisions, and methods of communication. Take a look at my FAQs for an example.
Pictures of Real People
Finally, one small but important thing to include is a picture of yourself. Humans like to connect with other humans.
Design sites that do not give the names and photos of the designer are less likely to command an emotional response from leads. Even if you wish you were ten pounds lighter or had straight teeth, it is better to share a true picture of yourself. This photo could be on the “About Me” or “Contact” page or your website and brochure. Read more about the benefits of using photos of real people in this marketing study.
In the end, the important thing is to always keep your objective — that is, your customers — as the forefront of your business model and goals. Try to think as a customer. Consider what makes you work with one company over another and implement these ideas to your own business.[Photo Credit: Plains and Prairie Potholes]