This article was contributed by Emelina Spinelli.
You can be the most creative designer on the planet… but if you don’t know how to sell yourself and your ideas you won’t make it past doodling works of art on your computer.
Ideas and creativity are only as good as your salesmanship.
If you have the brightest content in your noggin’ but you can’t persuade someone to join your enthusiasm for the idea or the design, then how do you expect to get it done?
The key to success as a designer or a creative is to sell your ideas.
Learn to “Sell” Your Ideas.
That’s why they hired… you!
We’ve all encountered situations where we create a pack of designs (whether for a logo or perhaps a website). We have a couple ideas that are “meh” at best, and there’s always at least one design that we knocked out of the park.
Quantity does not equal quality.
As designers and creatives, we go to the client with all our ideas (of varying quality) to show that we did the actual work. Not dissimilar from “doing-out” a mathematical algebra equation in high school. We want them to know that we didn’t just whip it together in 15 minutes. This leads us to show all our work.
We look for praise and approval from our clients.
And somewhere inside us, we think they are going to say: “Great job, I can see all the work and effort you put into the project. This is clearly the best piece (the one you think is the best), let’s go with it!” without further question.
That’s the disillusioned reality we sometimes create in our heads.
In reality, clients are usually not sure what makes a design “great” or worthy of hitting the publish button.
They don’t have the creative education or technical know how. And as creatives, we certainly can’t hold that against them. With this sort of approach, they will almost always choose the “safe” option. This is usually your least favorite design in the collection of creative options.
Because they are afraid of making a risky decision.
They don’t want to be judged, and are often afraid of making the “wrong” decision. Not that there ever is a wrong decision, because creativity and business is totally subjective.
Do you want your clients to back your work, and pick your BEST designs?
Then you must learn to sell yourself.
Sell Your Creative Ideas.
#1 Show and Tell
Take all of the pain out of this process by taking the creative reigns. This is kind of a leadership role reversal. Rather than solely seeking approval, take charge.
It’s your job not only to create amazing work, but to also educate your clients. Make it your responsibility to show your client why the work is invaluable.
Show them what the best design would be, and then back it up with an out-of-the-park explanation.
You must walk them through your decisions as a designer or creative and show them upfront why this particular creative idea will be the most effective in selling their product or service.
The first step here is to take an intake process. Create a design brief that allows your client to communicate their needs.
Make sure you understand their brand, the emotions that their brand needs to invoke and take care in getting to know their ideal customers. You can pick up a free brand template here. It may help your client be clearer in communicating with you.
Upon presenting your ideas, add a write-up to your work.
Explain to them why you chose the colors you did. Help them understand the psychology of color and how the colors you chose connect more with their audience.
Do the same with your type too. Explain the typeface you chose, and why the “serifed type communicates a sense of sophistication to their brand” (or whatever the specific trait is).
If you’re looking for help writing up your design “justifications” (as I like to call them), I have a great little guide that goes through, type, imagery and color theory that you can download for free, here.
#2 Mock-Up Your Best Designs
If you were doing a presentation to showcase your best work (which you are), would you just flip through some logos on your computer or a pdf?
It’s easier than ever now to mock-up your designs. And it does a world of difference for your presentation.
Treat your client meeting as a presentation, and do everything in your capacity to make your work really sing.
If you’ve designed a logo…
Pick your favorite logo and mock it up on a stationary set. This helps non-visual people (probably your client) see and understand the beauty and practical application behind the design.
If you’ve designed a tee shirt…
Mock the design up on t-shirts and models. Find photos of models in an environment that your client would dig, and get that logo on the shirt!
If you’ve designed a website…
Show what the website will look like on a desktop computer and a mocked-up mobile device. Let them see what the home page looks like on the computer itself.
If you’ve designed an advertisement…
Create a mock-up design where your client can see the billboard on the streets of L.A. or at a bus station in NYC.
Yes it totally takes additional time and attention to create a better presentation. You don’t have to do it. But is it worth putting in an extra couple of hours to sell yourself in the best way possible?
This is the difference between when I sold logos for $350 versus $3,000.
Say “goodbye” to client disagreements…
#3 Make it about THEM, and THEIR CLIENTS
It’s not about how creative you are or what you think. It’s about how you can show the value of the work to their audience.
Take the time to understand what their key-performance-indicators look like in the beginning of your process. Understand what success looks like for your clients, and what goals they are looking to achieve.
Use their goals to sell your ideas after you’ve placed all your creative attention into making a beautiful logo or website.
Sell the end result.
You’ve created a magical formula where your design meets the client goals. Remember to tell your clients how the design accomplishes what they were looking for.
That’s our goal as creatives anyway right!?
We are here to create a happy medium of something beautiful with practical application. The designs must connect with the client, and even more importantly, must connect with the audience.
Selling these ideas with confidence and consideration will be sure to have all your creative ideas heard and chosen! Obviously, there are some trickier clients… that just means you have an opportunity to communicate even better than you ever have before.
Emelina Spinelli is an art director and marketing strategist at d.science. She helps entrepreneurs build personal brands using the power of social media. Emelina believes mastering your marketing should be easy and spends her time creating tutorials and online courses for entrepreneurs to build their brands. When she’s not working, find her on Instagram.