By Tom May,Mike Kapetanovic

When it comes to attracting and retaining clients, it’s not enough to merely be a great designer. There’s a lot of competition for work out there these days, so you have to push the envelope.

To keep your clients happy, you’ll need to work on your social and networking skills, improve your business acumen, streamline your workflow, and more. That might sound scary, but don’t worry: as long you take heed of the following advice, you’ll be well on the way to becoming your clients’ go-to designer…

01. Give free advice

This doesn’t mean going out and do spec work for everyone; it means talking to clients properly when they call you, without counting the minutes and how much you’ll bill them. If they ask you a question which leads into an hour-long call, who cares? Be happy they called you for your suggestion. Never deliver a sales pitch, just provide a consultation and try to help in any way you can.

02. Make introductions

If a client mentions in passing they are working on a new strategy or is looking to learn about a topic, think of an expert or someone within your network to introduce your client to who can help shed some light or bounce ideas off of. Any time they have a question or are looking for advice, they’ll call you to see if you know anyone. Soon, they’ll believe that you only mingle with the best minds in the industry. Ever hear of the phrase ‘you are the company you keep’?

03. Always be open

A potential client comes to you after going through a terrible experience with a previous design firm. He is facing losing hundreds of thousands of dollars if his tight timeline is not met. You should take a good hard look at your workload to see what you can do to help. Of course, don’t get yourself in a bind by making unrealistic promises; otherwise you’re no better than the previous firm. If it can be done, take it on as a challenge and do whatever needed to make it happen. When the project is complete, the client will be eternally loyal.

04. Be flexible

When the scope says ‘not to exceed seven unique wireframes’, think about doing an eighth or ninth if it will bring value to the project without saying ‘this is out of scope, we’ll need to draft an addendum’.

Likewise, when a client is in a bind do what you can to be helpful and flexible without mentioning payment or the number of billable hours. It’s important that you don’t get taken advantage of, but making the conscious decision to not nickel and dime your client for that extra few hundred dollars you should have billed them for will come back to you tenfold.

05. Become an ambassador for their brand

Show your client and their brand some love and you’ll get it back in buckets

Clients love it when you believe in their brand as much as they do. So be enthusiastic about the work that …read more

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