Developing Trustworthy Client Relationships

Pinky PromiseTrust can be one of the hardest things to give and develop with a client.  Trust in your business relationships is integral if you wish to see your clientele numbers and your own company’s revenues grow.  The level of trust in your business relationships—especially client relationships—is a one of the greatest determinants of a business’ success.  Therefore,building your book of business is intrinsically tied to the trustworthy relationship you have with your clients and developing the long term relationships with them.

The Personal Touch – Consistent communication with clients, and building mutual trust and respect, often leads to repeat business for your company. Try to find ways to show clients how much they are valued, which contradicts the typical deli line “NEXT,” limited attention given to clientele by many business.  Equally as important to the attention you give them is setting reasonable and attainable goals centered on ways to solve their problems with your product or service.  Most client’s want you to set specific goals to be attained, reflecting that you are as equally invested in their success as you are in the ROI.  These  personal touches create brand loyalty with your clients and will cause them to stay with your company even if a competitor offers what appears to be a “better” deal.

Get in Their Head – Knowing your clients is just as important as servicing them.  Small talk during a business meeting is a great way to asses a business’s operational structure and culture, and this intel is critical to reflect your knowledge of their needs.  Gain respect and trust by sincerely asking clients what’s important to them and listening intently makes clients feel heard.  Try to elicit the critical issues that are most meaningful to the to them.  If appropriate, take a little time and diligence to discover not just the clients’ needs for your product of service, but also their personal hobbies, family dynamics and even biggest pet peeves to develop a more personalized relationship.  If they trust you with personal information, they will undoubtedly trust you with their business.

Make it Happen – Trust me, if you  don’t return phone calls in a timely manner, are consistently late for appointments or miss deadlines, it will be disastrous for both the relationship and your bottom line.  For example, when you give a client an expected date of completion – its simple, MEET IT!  Nothing is worse for a budding business relationship or repeat business than failing to meet deadlines.  To keep the fire smoldering and the business coming your way, give reasonable timetables for projects and deliverables.  If something unexpected does come up, make sure to communicate that with the client before the actual deadline date.  When it comes to this issue, it’s always better that you call them than they call you!

Earners Keepers/Lackeys Weepers – To keep your client’s trust and respect,  it must be maintained over time by doing the things you did to earn it in the first place.  You do not have to be perfect – just trustworthy in both words and actions ,and ensuring that they are complementary of one another. Trust can be easily earned by someone with upstanding character and integrity, but hard to dispense if you lack those critical qualities.

Crystal Clear – Transparency is critical to the provider/client relationship.   In this day when contracts with fine print have replaced the nobleman’s handshake, there’s a tremendous need for honesty and not camouflaging crucial facts.  If there’s some aspect of your product or service that a client wants, but you know you can’t provide, tell the truth.  There’s nothing wrong with stating that you can’t do something or haven’t yet developed a particular service or product.  You can still win them over or keep a current client happy by letting them know that you are innovative enough to work on a solution thereby reflecting your commitment to them and their business.

In Summary – Begin or continue earning your clients trust by giving them your best, proving your competency and following through with all commitments to show them you value their business and the relationship. Remember, word of mouth can be your best advertising or your worst adversary.  

Website Content: Cost, Time and More Explained

Many people ask me many questions about content writing.  They vary from the off the top of the head answers to “I actually need to research that” responses.  So when our head honcho at Design Theory asked me about researching client industries, billing and how clients respond to issues surrounding that, what solutions to these problems look like and how to not cause heart failure with the billing from it all, I realized I had quite a bit to say.  So rather than writing it all, Jean & I decided to give you an over the shoulder peek at our conversation on camera.  Some of it you might already know while another facet may give you an Ah-ha moment.  Either way, I hope it conveys some worthy considerations when you incur some of these same questions and frustrations with content writing, research and billing for your web and branding clients.

Here are some of the highlights:

Professionally Developed Content
*Clients need to understand the process & value of the necessary research & writing that will be critical to the success of their website.
*Not everyone who owns a business can necessarily write well about their business.
*Understand the importance of the potential consumers experience will be via the client’s website.
*Make the potential consumer/service recipient feel like “I want to do business with them or by their product.”

Content Writing Time & Research
*Do your due diligence in research to create great content to create traffic for the client
*Become intrigued and entrenched in the subject matter & then writing from a position of “seeming” expertise and authority.
*”Write It Like You Live It” positioning in content writing

*Use reportable billing software (i.e. Toggl) that report specifics to prove good utilization of time
*Consider incremental billing
*Establish a great rapport & trust so they so they don’t question the integrity of the work & the corresponding billing


Why Website Content Is Important [Video Interview]

So here’s my worldwide web, no time to be camera-shy debut.  I hope there are some tidbits that can enlighten & offer clarity of key points to consider from a content writer’s perspective.  These include blogging, web design and branding across all forums of marketing for your business, big or small.   So get some Kettle Corn (love that stuff!), get comfy and enjoy the show.

Why Website Content Is Important [Video Interview] from designtheory on Vimeo.

Interview by Jean Perpillant of Yvonne Barber, both members of Design Theory.

Write It Like You Live It!

A content writer or business blogger (whether plume or keyboard, or in my case, both) takes on the identity of his/her subject as though they are vicariously living as the CEO or decision maker for that business entity.  It is in this forum where jack of all trades requires that you master, at least on some level, all & not none.  A good content writer or blogger assumes the identity of employee/employer and advocate for that business.

Taking on a client who is part of an industry in which you’ve never been employed can seem overwhelming or to some impossible.  Do you take that client on and fluff your credentials as though you have had a million clients in that same industry…a been there done that so of course you should hire me attitude?  Or do you let them know how darn good you are at research and how becoming a student rather than a “know it all” behooves them and your craft?  Because any good content writer will tell you it’s about RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH …and yet more RESEARCH.  That includes your company client, their area of expertise, their competition and what’s not being said/done/reflected in their own and competitors marketing identity.   You have to write it like you live it, in it…their world, their conference rooms and marketing strategy meetings.

Recently I took on a client in a very interesting and technical industry.  And I certainly can admit some hesitation and anxiety prior to the pitch.  It was seemingly too technical for a person who spent a good deal of my career in a very white collar legal environment.  But I soon realized that this is what it’s all about.  What content writers do-we morph.  And through many hours of research and allowing my brain to think outside its confines and experience, I soon became intrigued and began to write in such a manner that impressed me (really it did) and my client.  This is what allows you to write from a position of “seeming” expertise and authority rather than obvious novice.

So stay encouraged my fellow content writers and bloggers- embrace what you don’t know, learn what you need to and then write like you live it.

Design & Build for Your Audience, and Not Yourself

Marketing TeamWhen it comes to designing a website, there can be a lot of opinions thrown into the hat from all parties. Opinions from the designer, who usually is considered the authority figure. From a company’s marketing team. My favorite are the opinions from the executive team. Now all of these opinions can be good and valid, yet all could be irrelevant when it comes to what opinion matters most; your potential client’s.

Website redesigns are touchy to me. When a client calls our office and asks about how much it will be to overhaul their entire website for a more modern look, our first thought is “great, let’s do it!” Especially if their existing site hasn’t been touched in over 3 years. We explain the importance of having social plugins, e-commerce, responsive web forms, and more. However it almost always is in the perspective of that site/business owner.

I’ve been doing some reading on effective landing pages and site designs, and I have to admit that I don’t always design or develop in the mindset of the online visitor. They’re the ones that spend the 7 seconds deciding whether or not a website has what they’re looking for before continuing on or bouncing off the website to another search result. This is a really important aspect to put into perspective. We’ve all heard the lines “a brilliant website means nothing if no one sees it,” or “content is king,” and so on. However if a potential customer or client doesn’t understand your website, or doesn’t feel comfortable enough to stay on and contact you or buy something your website is pointless.

Here are some points you should consider about your website; whether current or in development:

Lead Generation: Having a compelling call to action will not only help your sales team, but if tracked on a regular basis it will tell you what content people are hungry for.

Readability: Aside from complex wording, slang, or simplistic; your content needs to hit home with your target audience. It needs to resonate to their exact need for your product or service and they should understand that (hopefully) in the first few words or sentence on whatever page they landed on in your website.

Visual Candy: Not all customers and clients are into a wordy website. Some prefer rich and high quality images, graphics, and logos. Things that make them imagine themselves in or with your product or service. Lets face it, a good TV commercial for a piece of clothing will stay in your head until you visit the mall and feel compelled to buy it, or it will immediately turn you off.

Problem Solving: We’re all in business to solve a need right? If your homepage or landing page can effectively address your reader’s issue, you’ll draw in more leads than your biggest competition. Simply because of how you addressed the problem, you’ll win a clients vote of confidence – at least enough for them to give you a call or email you.

Market Research: This may sound like a big R&D project, but it really isn’t. There are many ways to poll people to get their opinions on things as a consumer. The data is out there, and we all know data doesn’t lie. So take the time to do some questioning and research to put into your website. You’ll not only have a greater confidence in your work, but be backed by hard evidence from doing your homework.

Really think about these things the next time you plan on redesigning your website or before you start a new one. One of the things we are proud of doing is sitting with our clients and really trying to get inside of their minds and really get to know what makes their business strategies so unique.

Have something to add? Please do so in the comments below. Your suggestions are always welcome!