How many times have you put on your running shoes only to go full-force into a swimming pool? Or purposefully drank orange juice just after brushing your teeth knowing full well that the results won’t be too tasty? Asked a stranger in a coffee shop to watch your $1500 laptop while you run to the restroom? Okay, that one isn’t too crazy.
What about going to your clients and asking them to be more vague with their responses and feedback? I mean, hopefully you don’t do that.
Why would you avoid this ridiculous behavior but not set up best practices to prevent it?
Your photography skills may be top-notch but it won’t matter if you don’t understand what lighting or setting or time of day the client prefers.
You may eat, breathe, and live for marketing but all your effort will be pointless if you know nothing of the product or service and the target audience.
You may be a great designer but you won’t end up with any deliverables if you don’t ask the right questions to figure out what the client is envisioning.
You may know how to acquire clients but not know how to service them in any respect.
The thing is, you are not only being paid by the client to perform to the best of your abilities but to also expand on your skills and further your business. It’s all about what processes you have in place and how they get you to both your and your client’s end goal.
Now, I don’t claim to know all the answers on how to get clients, establish a platform, make a killer video, get a social media ad to go viral, or even market a blog well. What I do have are tools that have helped me along the way and a knowledge base of the right questions to ask that have helped me to determine what a client needs even if they don’t know it for themselves.
Below, in no particular order, are some questions to ask your prospects and the reason behind them.
Have you already purchased a domain name? If so, what is it?
This question is for people who are searching for web design services. I know that this seems like a ridiculous question to ask but it’s not. Most people will already have a domain name bought as soon as they land on a company name. Of those people, most domains will be reasonable and fit with best practices.
Then there are the people who aren’t technologically savvy and don’t understand much of the internet. For example, I once had a client whose domain name was 32 characters long. That may not seem like much until you see xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.com or have to type it in. Even worse, an email of firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may feel dumb asking this, but it can give good insight as to how much effort may go into educating the client on web best practices.
Who is your target audience?
Many startup business owners won’t be able to pinpoint their target audience because anyone who will pay for their service or product is the target. Without knowing a specific answer, you could waste a ton of time and your client could spend a ton of money. Ask prodding sub-questions of age, race, income, gender, geolocation, interests, etc.
Again, it can give good insight as to how much effort may go into pressuring your client to further think of their business model.
How do you want to be perceived by clients/customers?
You may have to give examples here to get what you’re searching for. Many people will list off a few adjectives that leave you piecing together a puzzle without seeing what it looks like in the end. It may be best to give your own answer for guidance.
After a solid answer, it is then your job to figure out how to light the area or create a logo or what backdrop to go with.
Here’s how I’d answer that question:
Personally, I want my brand and blog to come off as friendly and personable. I’m not looking to be the #1 designer in Houston so I don’t care to be perceived that way. Larger companies will hire a design agency with a large team behind them so I go for the startups and small companies that are looking for a local feel. I want to be perceived as experienced, knowledgeable, caring, detailed, and thorough to prospective clients.
Give me 5 adjectives that best describe your brand.
This is probably the most critical question for my process but you’d think this question is equivalent to pulling teeth with some of the answers I’ve received. Some of the responses have included, “I’ll answer this later.” or “Luxurious and classy.” or “I’ll leave that up to you to decide.”
It’s a painful question to answer because it feels like you’re tooting your own horn, but in reality it’s what helps the creator out the most and a great precursor to the previous question of, “How do you want to be perceived by clients/customers?”
Perhaps some good sub-questions for this might be, “What adjectives do you want to come to mind when a client first sees your brand?”
Is there anything else you want me to know?
It’s simple and great because it’s completely open-ended for whatever else needs to be said. Often, people will clarify a response from another question or provide more insight with how far along in the development process they are.
There are many, many more questions that could be added to this list but these are a few that I’ve found have helped me the most. Check out my design brief to see the full thing.