Relationship marketing delivers many benefits to a design firm, big or small. Slowly but surely, as you build your client and prospect list, you'll be able to reduce marketing expenses, build referrals, and grow your business in step with your clients' needs.
- Change your Perspective from "Here's what I do" to "What do you need?" The cornerstone of successful relationships is to discover precisely what your clients need and want. Your clients say they need a Website. But what they mean is they need to increase sales revenue. You can develop the right kind of site to do that, but only if you understand your client's basic needs. You find those out by asking questions: lots and lots of questions!
- Recognize your Vulnerability
In the midst of a project, you might be in touch with your client several times a week. But it's the time between projects that is crucial to relationship-building. Once the work is done, you drop out of that enviable top-of-mind awareness position. Over time, your client isn't as likely to think of you as their first port of call for a solution to their problem. This is when you're most vulnerable to replacement by a competitor.
Fortunately, an affordable solution can help you retain those clients you worked so hard to acquire.
- Keep in touch
It's such a simple concept, but keeping in touch often sinks to the bottom of the 'to do' list. The single easiest way to keep in touch is to publish an email newsletter. Ask clients to subscribe and insert a subscription box on your site to capture email addresses of prospects who like the look of what you're doing.
The secret to a good newsletter is to avoid blatant self-promotion, and instead offer valuable information to your subscribers. With their permission, you have the opportunity to drop into their email boxes every month with news, tips, case-studies, FAQs, and other relevant info that subtly promotes your services, reinforces your brand, educates your clients, and builds trust.
- Position Yourself as an Expert
So many Web designer sites are elegant portfolios, and while they look great, they don't say anything. Words matter. Prospective clients are looking for more than thumbnail images of sites you've built. Your job is to tell them how you can meet their needs. Your Website is the perfect place to start, but the focus must be on the client, not on you.
Include white papers on design issues, special reports, case-studies, and links to other resources that will educate your clients on the inner workings of design. Be careful to avoid jargon, overly technical concepts and acronyms. If you're publishing an email newsletter, use it to introduce this new content and bring subscribers back to your site.
When you are perceived as an expert, you become attractive to prospects who use the Web to research. They see you as someone who has answers to their questions, and who can help solve their problems. Not only that, the added site content should also improve your search engine rankings.
- Grow to Meet Client Needs
Websites are hardly stand-alone entities that need an occasional tweak. For most businesses, they're but one tool amidst many that are used to build brand, inease revenues or minimize costs. And by offering more tools that help your clients reach their goals, you become more valuable. Build affiliations or strategic relationships with copywriters, photographers, search engine marketers, and other specialists whose talents will benefit your clients.