If you want to book higher-end clients you need to be able to attract higher-paying clients. And to do so, your work should reflect the higher-end product that you deliver AND your personal brand aesthetic should reflect the high-end design experience that you provide. It’s crucial that both pieces of the puzzle are included, otherwise, those clients will quickly feel a disconnect between your services and the experience you offer.
Let’s take a look at the media that I was putting out when I first started and my Instagram as of 2020:
Which one feels more refined and elevated? Which one do you expect to be more expensive? Which one looks more knowledgeable and capable of solving those big problems for me?
As designers, it’s easy to often overlook our OWN aesthetics when we are so focused on our clients. It’s easy to fill our Instagram feed with client work examples but sometimes we forget to follow our own advice and connect the dots of cohesion and producing for an ideal target in mind. Your grid doesn’t need to be a pattern or even a set style. But by niching down on how you’re trying to reach through your Instagram it becomes much easier to design your own graphics. We all experience the hardships of design for ourselves, and I found that my feed felt more “tuned-in” once I started to use my Instagram as an opportunity to truly speak to folks I’d like to work with.
Attracting bigger budget clients means that you also have to produce quality work. It can be easy to get sidetracked and want to work on the next shiny marketing tactic. But no amount of marketing, business strategy, or new tactics will replace quality work. My blog post about building practice into your daily routine as a designer stresses the importance of developing your skills with consistent practice. The quality of your work needs to reflect the price tag.
By offering an elevated and in-depth brand strategy workshop with my client’s I have been able to become more involved with their business and help them solve bigger problems. I’m seen as a strong resource for not only the visuals of their business but also brand messaging and understanding their ideal client and how to best sell to them. The strategy ties it all together and also positions your brand design as part of the big picture puzzle.
When you offer brand strategy, you gain a seat at the table with decision making with your client. You go from an order taker or pixel pusher to someone that your client trusts, you aren’t just presenting them with pretty colors and fonts- you’re giving them business solutions. And you take on more of a consultant role. When you start providing real solutions to business problems, your clients will trust you so much and they are excited to refer you to similar clients!
We’ve all heard the phrase “you get what you pay for”. Well, when you are offering brand strategy, you are offering so much more for the client! You help them build a really solid brand foundation, get clear on their mission, vision, voice, and so much more. You also are no longer taking on small scope projects for one-off pieces, but rather bigger budget, full-scope projects for the whole brand experience.
With larger projects comes a more hands on approach to working with your client. You are spending more face time with your client and just the workshop alone is such a big factor in bringing in the client on your thinking and design solutions. When you start to implement brand strategy workshops, you won’t be facing endless revisions and hearing things like “make the logo bigger” or vague statements like “I’m not really feeling this” because every design decision is rooted in strategy and intention and you’re providing a specialized service to them.
If you want to charge five-figures for design projects, your client experience from start to finish must reflect that. Customer service may just seem like a part of our jobs as entrepreneurs, but it can be set to the side when things get busy. A strong customer service experience leads to super happy clients who will then talk up to you and your services. It will be pretty hard to get client referrals if your customer experience doesn’t match up with the price that you are charging.
In order to achieve stellar customer service, organization, communication, and timeliness are key.
Your workflow and processes should flow seamlessly. I use Asana, Notion, and Dubsado to keep client projects very organized so that I never miss a deadline or a notification. With this detailed system, my clients know exactly where to find everything that they need and know when to expect the next steps from me and when I should expect feedback from them.
Your clients should always feel like they are being taken care of and that they are being seen and heard. That means prompt communication. Emails can get messy, unorganized, and sometimes the tone can be misinterpreted through text. So I love to send my client’s loom videos to talk through everything. This keeps communication crystal clear and makes them feel truly heard more so than in a regular email.
Staying on track and keeping on top of deadlines is super important for any project but especially when you want to be charging more. My motto is underpromise and over deliver and this remains true to timelines too.
While creatives may not naturally gravitate towards sales, it’s something all of us could use to work on if we aspire to hit higher income goals and book those dreamy clients. I understand the resistance to sales calls though; it can be awkward and really hard, especially when so many of us are taught that talking about money is frowned upon or taboo. Saying numbers out loud and often to ourselves is so important to get comfortable with talking about money with your clients.
Oftentimes I hear creatives say they are just scared of sounding “salesy” or “pushy”. But when your message is focused more on “this is how this service will transform your life and business” and less on “this is how much this costs”, or “buy this product with these features”, you won’t sound salesy or pushy.
You have to remember that your services solve really big problems for your clients. Good design, branding, and web design are a business investment and your potential clients should expect to see a big return on it and the price should reflect that.
When I started Quill & Co I had a lot of super awkward sales calls and I wasn’t getting booked very often. I realized that it was probably a confidence thing. If I couldn’t say my prices confidently why would someone feel confident investing in me? It was an essential learning moment that led me to invest in learning a new skill, practice something that I wasn’t great at and eventually have a strong closing rate on sales calls and feel good about my work and my prices.
While honing in on strategy and offering solutions to our client’s big problems is a huge part of the equation, we cannot forget to keep growing and rising with our skillset and design work itself. The quality of our work is the backbone for everything and without it, we have little room to grow and breakthrough those barriers to higher-paying clients and larger projects.
Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you feel you need to put more time into building up your skillset or are your sales calls hurting your business right now? I’m always just a DM away and available to chat through these topics. I know I would have loved that reassurance as I went through the process and am here for you!