Forget about your process

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If you think that your clients care about your process, or value you having a process, or if you think that displaying your process on your website will justify stronger positioning and lead to higher fees, think again. Your process is not a business development or a marketing tool.

Many design firms (and design firm owners for that matter) spend way too much time trying to define their process and then use that process as a business development tool or as part of their marketing. If you looked at ten agency websites and compared their process side by side you wouldn’t find too much difference in how they do what they do, but would find sophisticated words describing each part of their process. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating that your process isn’t important. It is important and should be well defined. But your clients really don’t care about what your process is. Only you do. 

If I was going to eat at a high-end restaurant, famous for its chef-owner, do I care about his process? Not really. What I care about is how the food is going to taste once I bite into it. The chef can have the most defined process of all chefs but if his food doesn’t make me feel like I’m falling in love every time I bite into it—the process is pretty much meaningless. 

You are the famous chef of your agency. Your process is how you do what you do and your focus in getting clients to come through your doors is not to tell them how you cook but to let them taste your food. 

What does your client care about? Themselves and their success. The problem is that your clients generally don’t really know what to look for in a design agency so they sometimes will ask you to tell them about your process. Don’t fall for it. They really don’t care. If a client asking “what is your process?” they are really asking “tell me what my business will look like after we work together.” 

Your process is different for every one of your clients because every one of them is different. You’re not selling cookie cutter creativity, you are selling focused attention and guidance that is individually tailored to each of your clients. Don’t confuse your process with the stages of your work. The stages may be similar but your process isn’t.

When you meet with your prospect for that pitch meeting, don’t lead with your process. Lead with asking as many questions as you can so you can find out where your clients want to go. The more questions you ask, the more clarity you will gain on what process would work best for your client. Talk about results. Paint a picture to your client of what their business can look like after you’ve worked together. Get them excited and enrolled in working with you. 

Focus on the benefits and results of working with you, and you won’t need process to convince the client to make the decision to hire you. Show them what’s possible—and how your creative thinking can take them where they want to go.

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