Identify the Ideal Client

My recent experience working with Thirsty Hop reminded me just how lucky I’ve been over the last few years to have been able to attract clients that are a pleasure to work with. The launch of their website project was made all the smoother by a great collaboration with the client and their designer.

Of course, that wasn’t always the case for AllProactive Communication. As a new start up it was almost compulsory to take the ‘low hanging fruit’ (which to the seasoned entrepreneur is known as ‘the client you really, probably, usually don’t want’). So I had my share of jobs that were unpleasant personally and financially.

Fortunately, I was able to find mentors who guided me away from this cycle and taught me the value of identifying the components of the ideal customer persona (for APC) and only working with those that possessed those qualities.

By using the criteria listed below, I was able to qualify the best customer for us and that has paid dividends. Whether you’re the provider or the buyer, ideal client should:

Have a Realistic Budget

Knowing that digital marketing (the website) is an investment and not an expense is one of the most important traits of a good client. Knowing that value is returned over time, frames the project properly when determining the budget and time necessary to invest.

Understand Value vs. Cost

The ideal client knows that the cost of doing business with someone who is cut-rate will only lead to unsatisfactory results. The cost (time, effort, mistakes) is never equal to the value the client hopes to receive. Understanding the deliverables in both the tangible and intangible context clarifies value.

Know that Trust Trumps Price

Bad clients worry about paying too much but good clients are more concerned with working with someone they trust with their vision more than getting some marginal savings. This harks back to the point above regarding value. Working with someone you can trust adds almost immeasurable value.

Be Open to Advice

Collaboration is key to a good working relationship. Often the work of designing and building a website can impact all aspects of the business’ marketing. A good client not only receives advice but shares information knowing that it can only help to achieve the goals of all involved.

Provide a Single Point of Contact

This one can’t be over-stated. Designing by committee never works out. This cartoon illustrates what can (and often does) happen, How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell.

Establish who your stakeholders are and keep control of the process. Involving 3-4 people should be the max. Thirsty Hop had one of the three partners and their designer lead the effort. Super smooth.

Know (and Deliver) The Content

Almost all clients will underestimate the amount of content they have and the time it will take to deliver. This echoes the Single Point of Contact. Some content has to pass through multiple hands but clients that keep the designer informed and respond quickly to requests are golden.

By addressing each of these six areas in the initial meeting, you can avoid a lot of wasted time and potential headaches that can will occur down the road.

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