Don’t be arrogant or talk about yourself too much when pitching, say clients

The What Clients Think 2018 report delves into clients’ thoughts when choosing which design studios to hire, and has shown that they value commercial success over endless show-reels of creative work.

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Eight out of 10 clients value meeting designers rather than sales people from a studio – but the majority also want them to focus on commercial success rather than “irrelevant” creative work.

The findings have been taken from the What Clients Think 2018 report, where 500 brand-side clients were interviewed on behalf of design studios. The research was conducted by business advice consultancy Up to the Light alongside the Design Business Association (DBA).

The report has found that 84% of clients prefer to meet designers and creative people rather than sales people but that one of the main annoyances of first meetings is when the studio shows too much work and does not go into the commercial benefits of projects.

Clients value designers but don’t put them in the boardroom

Research also shows that nine out of 10 clients value design as very important to their brand but less than one in 10 are willing to involve design studios in senior level, boardroom meetings.

The report says that 89% of clients think good design is an important contributor to their brand’s success yet only 7% believe their design studio is “in the boardroom” – in other words, influencing important decisions at director level.

In terms of receiving pitches for new business, six out of 10 clients say that the old-school method of sending letters in the post is more effective than email.

Don’t be arrogant, generic or misinformed

Social media is not effective at attracting new clients, apart from Linkedin, the report also shows – nine out of 10 clients say they do not follow any design studios on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but nine out of 10 say they use Linkedin, showing that design studios should consider putting more effort into attracting clients through that platform.

Clients’ main gripes with design studios on first pitch include arrogance or assuming they know more than the client does about a business; presenting generic projects that are not relevant; not talking about the business-side or financial effects of projects; and lack of research into the brand beforehand, for instance by misjudging a brand’s audience. Over three quarters also say that design studios talk about themselves too much in pitches.

The most effective things a design studio can do during a short pitch are to show commercial effectiveness of previous projects, such as how design helped to increase sales; offer a bespoke solution to the client’s business challenge; and show previous work that is relevant to the client.

Read the What Clients Think 2018 report in full here.

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