Why do clients choose you?
A simple question but the answer can have a major impact on new business development.
In the past two years I have been lucky enough to work with some very impressive design studio owners. When I question myself on why clients choose them the answer is invariably empathy.
My belief is that empathy is the core element of human centred design. Because empathy falls into the emotional spectrum its application and understanding varies greatly with each designer and each client. In fact it will change according to the mood of the desiigner and client.
When I first thought about this issue I decided I needed a system to help studio owners answer the question in the same way every time, with every client. I decided that I needed to look at what it is that designers understand about their clients and how the designer client fit worked. To do this I looked at scenarios, empathy maps and three parts of the Design Business Model Canvas; the design value proposition, client relationships and communication channels.
Empathy mapping and human centred design
The process begins by writing a profile on the client. The normal demographic stuff is collected and then you visualise their experience as they walk into work each day and describe what it is they do, how the do it, with whom and with what success.
This information is then put into an Empathy map to understand the client in more detail.
This then allows you to define the pains that the client has and the gains they could get. These are matched to the services you offer which helps develop a design value proposition statement.
The next stage is to look at the type of relationship you have with the client. Do they prefer to meet to discuss the job or do they just want to do it via email? Can you change the relationship so that it’s more about co-creation? From what you now know about the client can you develop a closer relationship offering co-creation? Or do they just want a designer who does what they are told and is paid by the hour?
This stage also divides clients into those that you want to gain, those you want to retain and the ones you want to grow.
The relationship stage allows you to understand which clients you would prefer to work with and that leads to the type of communication you would have with them.
All this gives the information for a communication strategy that keeps the client informed about the services you offer. This stresses areas such as co-creation, value-added design and human centred design – the services that are additional to the normal design and artwork offered by your competitors.
The analysis shows which clients would prefer a personal presentation, an email newsletter as opposed to a printed piece, or a breakfast seminar.
You want more?
Here’s an explanation of empathy mapping and some good references.
Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.
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Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.
Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.