Forty Years in the Desert
Let’s say the client is happy. They have a few minor concerns, but the website works properly, and now it’s time to secure future work. This is the tip of the iceberg. The real money will come from serving the client’s needs forever, if you’re smart enough to see it through.
In print, a company brands once and is done. They might need some ads, brochures or catalogs down the road, but print and packaging generally take eons to be redesigned.
An illustrator or photographer might hope to appear in every issue of a magazine, but there’s no guarantee of that, and their style might not suit being featured too often.
It’s a good thing that digital initiatives are like oxygen to a company’s survival!
Before leaving the launch party, give a speech about how great it was to work with the client and how the result makes the entire nerve-wracking experience worthwhile. Now is the time to spew the techno-jargon that you avoided early on. By dumbing down your explanations at the beginning, you drew the client in and pacified them. Now that the website is up and you have the final check in hand, it’s time to make the client a little nervous.
Not nervous in a bad way. Just make them nervous in knowing that they will need to feed this new business engine. Likening what you should do here to hooking a person on drugs is not politically correct, but it’s the best analogy I can think of. You know it’s true. You’re not about to create the website and walk away. You want to open their eyes to email marketing, custom HTML templates, widgets, gadgets, mobile applications and website updates. Bind them to you, and serve them as though you were mowing their lawn every Saturday… and even offer to do that for a few extra dollars!
Cross-selling is a big part of every business. When you order a drink at the pub, the bartender will always reach for a top-shelf liquor first. The pub makes more money that way. When you order online, the check-out page will try to cross-sell related items. If you’ve designed a logo, why not nab the contract for everything it will grace? If you’ve ever bought a Barbie doll for a girl, you know that the doll is about $10, but the dream house that the girl insists on having will run you as much as an actual house. And then there are the outfits and shoes. If the tactic works, then use it to your advantage. I wonder how much Barbie’s dream website would cost?
Being able to serve a client regularly is like manna from heaven. I love having regular clients because it’s like you’re working in their office. In New York City, with the lack of public washrooms, I can always count on a client’s office being close by, where I can use the washroom and say hello to people I pass in the hallway. It is always a relief (no pun intended… perhaps) to know I have access to clean washrooms all over the city, at least during the week.
You saunter in, and the receptionist says, “Just go ahead to the conference room.” You can always find donuts in the kitchen on your way. No one says anything because you are “one of the family.” And as one of the family, you get paid quickly. Just don’t mess it up by dating the receptionist (who would be your sister in this new family).
Naturally, you want to nurture the family and do what’s best for its health and happiness. As technology develops, you will have more products to sell to new and existing clients. “Sell” is the keyword.
The same goes for staff. With the work flowing, there will be no need for staff cuts. Most companies don’t see the need to grow their Web presence, and they assume that one “webmaster” is enough to update information (usually the “news” section) as needed. Silly humans.
I find that keeping clients in the loop about projects that I’ve completed for other clients leads to more work. They want what my other clients have for themselves. Whether it’s keeping up with browser updates or tweaking the programming, which always needs updating (don’t forget to mention that in your launch speech), websites need as much upkeep as office software. As a staff member, keep up with technology, and make a case for updates. It’s part of your job, and it’s a good way to keep it.
Of course, they will actually need all of these bells and whistles. You’re not selling them something that they don’t need so much as informing them that they need it. If you show them a mobile app that you did for another client, chances are they’ll want one, too.
If work is slow, maybe you could play around and work up something special to pitch to the client? Conceiving projects to pitch is never wasted time, as long as they fulfill a need. You could call the client every now and then to ask how they like the work you have provided and whether they would like anything added to the website? Show the client you are watching out for them, even when they are not paying you. And then add it to the invoice later.
Things to Keep in Mind
Here is a checklist of important points from this chapter:
- The client is nervous and out of their element. Dumb down the jargon so that they don’t get lost or feel they need to gain control. You are the one who needs to control the project.
- Contract! If you don’t have one in some form, don’t bother with the other steps.
- Hold the client’s hand from beginning to end… and beyond.
- We work with computers, and our people skills sometimes suffer for it. Identify the extrovert on your team, and let them be the point person for the client.
- Set regular milestones for payments and progress, and stick to them.
- Listen as if every idea is gold, but explain how hard it would be to mine and smelt it.
- Control the project, but be transparent. Keep the client in the loop so that they don’t dream up what seems to them like a better idea.
- Scope creep happens. Deal with it swiftly, because neglecting to mention extra charges the first time will set the stage for more free changes. A professional relationship demands respect… and payment.
- Sometimes you have to bend a little. As in life, we negotiate most of the time. Be kind but not foolish.
- Check, double-check and recheck everything before launching. You will be blamed for typos and unicorns that don’t glitter enough.
- If you make the client feel like family, you will have a great source of income for years to come.
- Now that the client is family, you can sell them updates, maintenance, apps and your daughter’s Girl Scouts cookies.
- Always cross-sell your services. Securing more work is easier when clients are feeling good about what you’ve already done.
- Repeat with the next client.
Into the Promised Land
Seeing a website that makes you proud enough to say “I did that!” is a wonderful feeling. I will look at a finished project for hours after it has gone live. I’ll check back periodically, and at the end of the day I will wish it sweet dreams. That’s usually a sign that I’ve worked too hard and need a little time off at the pub. If the client concurs, that’s a sign that they, too, are happy with the results. Bask in the glow, knowing you have won them over.
Payment in full is nice, too.
About the author
Speider Schneider – overlooking the deep, dark woods.
"Be kind to those you meet on the way up because you’ll meet them on the way down." Speider Schneider was born in New York City and attended School of Visual Arts. Through his career he has designed products and worked for various notable companies such as Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., LucasFilms, Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. Speider ‘s motto is "Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae" (There is no great ability without a mixture of madness) and he likes most colors equally. He doesn’t have much time for hobbies but is in the possession of a cat named Boo. His personal message to the readers? “Don’t suffer from insanity… enjoy every minute of it!”
- 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/the-lost-files/plagues-in-web-design-business-how-to-deal-with-them-part-8-of-9
- 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/the-lost-files
- 3 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/the-lost-files/web-design-community-where-are-we-going-part-1-of-6/
- 4 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/the-lost-files/plagues-in-web-design-business-how-to-deal-with-them-part-8-of-9
- 5 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/the-lost-files
- 6 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/the-lost-files/web-design-community-where-are-we-going-part-1-of-6/
Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf New York, on June 14–15, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.