Client presentations: Do this, not that

Hey hey, happy Wednesday!

This week I’m back with another fun “do this, not that” article. Get ready… this one is juicy!

We’re diving into something that is crucial for a winning customer experience — the client presentation. I’ve got a few Do this/not that’s for ya below, so you can tweak your process and improve client communication.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Do this: Align your client with their goals before presenting.
Not that: Present without a reminder of the foundation.

With brand identity design, it’s easy to get swept into personal preferences rather than what appeals most to the target customer. Take some time at the beginning of the presentation to gently remind the client about their target customer. Throughout the presentation, refer to how your solution appeals directly to them and how you had them in mind throughout the entire process. This helps your client view the presentation through a different lens aside from personal preferences.

Do this: Walk your client through the presentation.
Not that: Drop and go!

You’d be surprised the impact walking your client through your design presentation can make. This is a great time to provide the rationale behind your presentation, so your client understands the care and deep consideration you took for their brand. I prefer to schedule a quick phone call, send the presentation just 15 minutes before hand, and walk through the presentation verbally on the phone. I don’t ask for any feedback during that time, and am there for any initial questions. If you prefer written communication, you can provide step-by-step rational written within your presentation. Try it and watch how your clients respond and feel taken care of!

Do this: Talk in your client’s terminology.
Not that: Use language that seems foreign.

Here’s the truth — clients typically don’t understand terms like kerning or ligature. While these details are important as designers, it often goes over our client’s heads and can even make them feel insecure as we reference them in our presentations. Avoid using specific terminology your client might not understand, and instead opt for easy language that feels comfortable to them. Reuse their own words from the initial questionnaire, to reinforce how your solution resonates with their brand.

Do this: Provide context within your presentation.
Not that: Show isolated designs without application.

If you’re presenting a brand identity design proof to your client, it’s easiest for them to understand when they see it in context. As a designer, I can easily visualize how a design will carry out through various platforms, but some of our clients have a tough time with the visualization. Make it easy for them, and mockup a promo ad, packaging, or any sort of relevant marketing materials immediately in proof 1. Though this adds initial time upfront to the presentation, it’s worth it in the long run. It also allows your client to focus less on the logo (in the case you’re providing brand identity design) and more on the holistic design experience.

Do this: Be open to your client’s feedback (good or bad).
Not that: Don’t get heartbroken if you need to go a different route!

Oof. This is a tough lesson to learn! I’m in the thick of it right now, and still feel a little heartbroken we’re moving a different direction than proof 1. BUT. I’ve learned to listen to my client’s feedback, and learn how I can shape the following proofs to better align with their customer. The design process is often eye-opening to our clients, and stirs up all sorts of clarity in the mix. We do a thorough job getting to the heart of the target customer before sketching, but sometimes more details and clarity arise from your client upon seeing the first proof.

Instead of getting heartbroken of setting aside your lovely design and tossing it on the cutting room floor… listen. What about the design didn’t resonate, and how can you provide a solution that feels more on brand for your client? It’s tough to let go of our pride, but it’s necessary for the benefit of both customer service and your client’s brand.

Do this: Guide your client through best feedback.
Not that: (Crosses fingers) “Er… Hope you like it!”

Much like how you guide your client through the presentation, take the extra step to prep your client on how to best provide feedback. It doesn’t have to be any formal education or message, but simply a few suggestions for your clients to respond to. With brand design, I always ask my clients to respond in light of their target customer. If something feels “off,” why doesn’t it resonate with the client’s audience? This helps your clients to provide feedback through their target customer lens, rather than prescriptive feedback on specific design changes.

Nothing is more nerve-racking as a designer than opening up feedback from a client who drafted their own sketch of the requested changes to the logo. Your clients aren’t designers, so they shouldn’t feel enabled to provide design-specific requests. However, their opinion is definitely valued… just needs to be guided in a way that is most helpful moving forward!

And that wraps it up! Client presentations are KEY in creating a red-carpet experience for both you and your client. Once you take that next step in your process into prioritizing your presentations, you’ll experience a drastic change in results. Clients will be happier, which makes us designers happy :).