This post isn’t about all clients, but hard clients specifically. I am sure you have come across them once in a while. It will help you detect their categories right from the beginning, before even starting the job.
There are early flags that if you pay attention to and recognize, can categorize your clients in a way that allows you to deal with them much more effectively.
”Scared clients with bad experience (bitten once)”group:
These clients have come out of broken relationships with previous designer(s) and are very guarded and skeptic about the whole process.At the same time they feel that they know every thing about the process of design, so when you start explaining the process you will hear them interrupt and say things like, “Yes, I know about revisions” and “I know how it works.”
And they have brought you a design that is not finished; they hate it and want you to fix it no time at all.
Your first reaction shouldn’t be to guard or respond immediately. Remember, you’re trying to get them on your side. Most of the time if you simply listen to the story of how it started and ended, they will be much calmer (yes, you are now in the shoe of a therapist)!
In order to understand them better and prevent you from falling into the same trap, investigate why their relationship failed. Was it money, design problems, delivery, attitude, due date, etc…? It tells you a lot about your new client.
For example, if the issue was about the quality and style of design, then before you start anything, make sure s/he has a correct understanding about the design styles. Show them different styles to ensure you both have a common understanding of the design.
If it was money, ask about the contract they had and what went wrong.
”Designers by heart” group:
These are people that either have or have had their hands on some art or design fields and love to do it but never did.They have a very strong opinion about what they want.You hear this a lot, “I can see it in my mind but cannot do it.” You will be their hand.Some don’t have any technical knowledge on how to implement their ideas.The plus here is that some, not all, have a basic understanding of the creative process.
They want to micromanage every line, shape, and point. Their comments sometimes turn your ideas upside down. You will have a hard time explaining that different art fields have separates rules and functions. For example, if certain rules work in interior design, the same may not work for graphic design.
If you want to continue working with them and believe their idea is worth trying, you’ve got to be patient and try to be their hand. Make sure they know from the beginning what your boundaries and rules are as a graphic designer; rules you won’t break under any circumstances. They appreciate it, even if they don’t tell you.But keep in mind; this conversation needs to be discussed at the beginning of your relationship; not in the middle or end.Always offer your advice even if they don’t use it. Otherwise, they’ll think the end result was all their work, essentially making your efforts colorless!
Show these clients your portfolio samples and styles, and even go the extra step to compare them with other designers’ styles. Your confidence in your work will help build a stronger relationship between the two of you. A side benefit is that the client will begin to understand some of the technical processes involved in applying their concepts.
”Extreme analytical and logical” group:
They come from a numbers world.They’ll give you data, information, and some competitor’s samples and leave the rest up to you.They are not big picture people, but instead zone in on the details. They’ll get angry at small details like why their logos aren’t completely centered, why the filling content isn’t exactly correct, or why typos exist on replacement text.
In your revisions sessions you end up talking more about nitpicky details rather than which layouts will have a better effect on the market.The number of revisions will exceed what you quoted in your agreement.
Prepare a simple, but detailed agreement before you start. Go through a process of previous clients and make sure they understand each part.
The good news is that this group loves a logical approach, and as long as you follow a plan they will listen to you.Don’t provide too many different drafts and samples; however, make the samples very well prepared. Quality over quantity.
”Child Type” group:
These are carefree, unorganized, and very laidback clients.You won’ t be able to set a time with them without sending them emails or phone calls a dozen times. On appointment day, these clients either cancel or show up late.They have a design need but leave it all up to you. They expect to do no work and have you show them a final product.You realize they didn’t even read the agreement you sent them and simply looked at the “price” page.They require lots of hand-holding, so be prepared to explain to them over and over again information you have emailed them previously.
Good news is they are normally happy clients, and as long as you know how to handle them, they will be happy with your design.
The problem is that there is no schedule that you can stick with. Files and payments will take more time than scheduled to get to you.
Make sure you include babysitting time in your work. Don’t make yourself tired by sending instructions repeatedly, because you’ll have to explain them again in person or over the phone.
Make it clear that the final finish date depends on their responses; the longer they take, the later they’ll get the final product. Otherwise, they’ll blame you for not finishing the design on time.
They work with one designer for one or two projects, but then feel they made a mistake, so they choose another designer who they feel is better or cheaper.
How do you know if they flip-flop? Ask your client with who and when they worked on their logos, business cards, or ads with. Learn from their past habits to see what type of client they are!
They may sound like a good client but they won’t stay with you. There is no long-term relationship with them. Not with you, and not with any other designers.
Create your best work, and deal with them as ethically as you can; but don’t invest in long-term relationships. No matter whatever you offer in quality or price, simply won’t work in the long run.
”All about the money” group:
These clients just love discounts. You’ll spend more time talking about money than actually looking at what they need to meet their goals.They feel relaxed and accomplished ONLY when they get something extra for free or lower the price of the contract.
The problem is, money chaser’s relationships may not last long (like flip-floppers). However, there are times that these conversations will only occur in the beginning; by working with each other more, you will build trust with your client and move past the money issues.
To keep them happy you have to come up with a plan that gives them some incentive to come back to you.When you communicate with them, make sure they understand the pricing structure of your work. For example, if they want a lower price, they should understand that it may reduce creative brainstorming time or reduce the number of pages on the website. Lastly, show them the quality of design they’ll receive for each level of pricing they go up/down. This opens up room for negotiations in your ballpark.