Better Planning Starts with Getting to Know your Client

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In one of our very first blog posts, we wrote about how answers to just a few key questions help us provide clients with quick and accurate estimates. More than that, talking to clients and understanding their needs results in client trust, and the effective project outlines we’re able to create lead to better outcomes.

We developed this checklist to gather information we needed, and we think the checklist approach could help out in any line of business. In this post, I want to elaborate on how important it is to get to know your client.

Consulting with Clients to Helps Us Help Them: We Don’t Mean to Pry (actually we do)…

Fields like law and medicine give us a very good example of how talking with clients is crucial to identifying the nature of the their problem, and gathering information to understand how to reach a potential solution. A lawyer needs to know their client really well to best represent them in a legal matter, and a doctor needs to understand what their patient is experiencing to develop a diagnosis, but a provider of professional services should also know their client well to suggest an effective solution for them.

Talking to a client and learning about their issues also helps establish a trusting relationship with them. By actively listening to a client, they’re building their trust in you — they will be comfortable that you understand the issues they want solved, and that you’re committed to helping them.

We think there are a few major areas where you need to gather information to ensure the project moves forward with as little hassle as possible and with the most trust between you and your client:

  • Gathering Basic Information — It’s important to have the nuts and bolts of the project including getting the correct client contact information to ensure you can connect with the right people to move the project forward. From a marketing perspective, you may want to survey their current marketing materials such as their logo and websites, and any collateral such as photographs, illustrations, or graphs and charts that could be useful.
  • Understanding Your Client and Their Market — We first determine the scope of the work by understanding what product or service is being promoted, its benefits, how it’s distributed, who is the target customer, how it’s perceived by the market, and what other competitors it’s facing. We also want to know what key message or messages the client wants to communicate.
  • Knowing Your Constraints — Important considerations for projects include things like the potential budget, important deadlines, and possible regulatory or legal obligations.
  • Understanding how you can best serve your client — We think about the services we offer, and how they meet a client’s needs. In the case of marketing, this means suggesting a course of action involving a variety of services such as a marketing plan (if none exists), design, copywriting, public relations, and website development to meet the client’s intended outcome.

In our experience we have found that many businesses, especially small ones, don’t put enough effort into getting to know their clients, which can result in wasted effort, projects not meeting budgets, and unmet expectations.

Remember — great creative moves people. If you’re looking for design and communication services, we’d like to develop a solution for you by first understanding you and your needs.

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