4 Client-getting myths, debunked

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The biggest hurdle I’ve overcome is my own mind. From things I’ve read, heard, & seen related to business, I now have ideas and stories floating between my two ears.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know what they’re talking about. Which means those ideas floating around aren’t ideas at all… they’re obstacles.

The more I can pick them apart and release them from my brain, the more I can free myself to grow and learn.

That’s what today’s article is all about – tearing myths apart to leave room for growth. And I’ve got 4 juicy ones ready for you. Sounds good? Then let’s dive in:

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

Myth 1. “No one reads all that copy, keep it short”

In 2010, I wrote one of the longest sales pages of my life. It contained thousands of words on a single page.

“Who will read all that? Keep it short!” a voice probed from the back of my mind.

But I wrote on anyway, because there was more to be said.

Today, without as much as a single word being changed in the last 6.5 years, this copy is still the top performer in its entire industry… 

Why?

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Because if your copy speaks to people’s interests, problems, and desires – they will read every word.

Gary Halbert, a famous copywriter, used to say that people will get out a magnifying glass to read tiny text crammed into a newspaper ad if it’s relevant enough.

Say everything you need to say.

Just make sure it’s what your prospects need to hear.

And don’t leave things out because you’re scared that your word count is getting too high. Write the full sales pitch, and not a word less.

Myth 2. “Design sells itself”

Not so.

Results sell themselves.

9 out of 10 business owners will pick a designer whose work looks like kindergarten drawings, but brings in incredible results, over one whose work looks like it came from the messiah but doesn’t generate a penny.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show off how beautiful your work is.

But tell the story of your work – and make the star of that story the results it generated, or the goals it helped your client reach, or the problems it took away.

Break down your individual design decisions and tie them into your client’s problems and goals.

This also applies to delivering your work to clients:

If you just send them an image with no explanation, breakdown of elements, etc., you’re essentially saying:

“Hey, what do you think about this? Does it look nice?”

That leads to a meaningless, infuriating discussion full of, “Well, I don’t think I like how that looks… I prefer blue… Can we make the logo bigger?” instead of a substantial discussion about what the piece is trying to achieve.

Keep the conversation focused on the goals of your work and the problems it’s aiming to solve. Make the case for how your work is solving those problems. Present it like a well-formed argument that counters all rebuttals.

Discuss the colors, the typography, the photography – share why you chose them, and how they connect to what your client is looking for.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard clients say:

“You know, when I first saw it, I didn’t think about it like that – but now that I read your explanation I see what you mean. Great job!”

The cool part?

Now that you’ve created this great, rock-solid argument, you can add it to your portfolio when you display the piece 🙂

Myth 3. “I’m not a big talker, so I’m bad at selling”

I hate talking. In fact, the most anxious moments of my life these days are when I run into someone I know and they ask me, “What’s new?”

My inner-world is a complex swirl of images, flashbacks, intangible feelings, ideas, and things I don’t even know how to define.

Talking means I have to somehow make visible the invisible.

I usually can’t do that, and have no answer, and then I swell up with anxiety at the fact that I’m standing there, answer-less, to a meaningless superficial question they didn’t even really want a real answer to.

Am I getting off topic? Anyways…

Good news: Selling is more about listening than talking. That’s why I do a pretty good job at it.

The questions you ask will get you more sales than the savvy words you speak. Questions like:

  • What’s going on in your business that prompted you to find someone like me?
  • What are your goals for this project? What would you like to see happen in your business as a result of it?
  • Why do you do what you do? There are millions of ways you could spend your time – what inspired you to open a cafe that sells imaginary coffee for real money?

Clients will be more impressed by your questions and your desire to learn more about them than anything else.

Myth 4. “Everyone just wants ‘cheap’ and ‘fast’ “

The vast majority of the people who come to our agencies don’t want either.

I’m not saying that to brag, I’m saying it because if you’re finding that everyone does want that, it really means everyone you’re attracting right now wants that.

It’s time to analyze your marketing, self-presentation, demeanor, portfolio, and anything else prospects come in contact with, and ask yourself:

“What about this is giving people the ‘fast and cheap’ message?”

This goes for every kind of problem client. If the majority, or even a good chunk, of your clients have other problems, like:

  • Endless revisions
  • Demand constant attention, even at 2 in the morning
  • Love your work one day, hate it the next

… it all starts and stops with you.

For every problem in your business, you have to ask yourself:

“What am I doing that’s creating it, and what can I do to make it stop?”

How about you? Are there any myths you’ve busted on your path to growth and success?

I’d love to hear all about them. Leave me a comment and let me know.

 

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About David Tendrich

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.

 

More about David’s business: David is co-founder of Reliable PSD – what happened when a group of designers got fed up with PSD to Code companies… and created their own. Check them out, and see why freelancers & agencies are head over heels for this amazing new service.

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Comments

  1. Fantastic points, and I love the first one in particular. It’s true, I constantly receive emails entrepreneurs who send 1-2 emails/day to their mailing list trying to sell products and coaching services to me. These emails are often long, and have little to no visual appeal – they’re often in simple plain text. But once in a while I’ll read the whole thing from start to finish if it speaks to me. Just goes to show the power of good copy.

    • Absolutely. I get emails all the time where people say they never read marketing emails, but read every word of ours. It’s about keeping the focus on the reader, and what they need / want / what pain they want to be rid of.

      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Great article! David’s pieces are always interesting and down-to-earth.

  3. Thanks David.

    Your post is the first I’ve read that turns the “Marketing 101” on it’s head.

    A lot of what you wrote had me thinking about how I was tackling the same annoyances from what seem to be and endless list of commandments.

    May I be so bold – could you do another list like this?

    • Thanks so much, Stefan.

      You may not only be so bold – I hope you continue to do so. This kind of feedback is extremely helpful in knowing what to write for you guys.

      If you have any other things you’d like to know about or questions you want answered, leave me a comment and I’ll add it to my list of article ideas 🙂

  4. This was an excellent article and especially helpful to me right now.

    Every so often I feel my business beginning to drift and need to be reminded of my sales role. Too easy to assume my clients are able to recognize strong designs as I do. Salesmanship and thoughtful explanations are still required.

    Appreciate you giving me a nudge back in that direction. Keep up the good work over there…