LEARNING ABOUT THE DESIGNER

There are many possible ways clients and designers initially meet. However it occurs, it typically begins by the clients first learning about the designer and basic business in­formation regarding the designer or design firm. This process of learning must be easy and enticing enough for the potential client to follow up with a telephone call or of­fice visit. Potential clients may learn about a design firm by a number of means. These include (1) advertisement, (2) brochure, (3) Web site, (4) jobsite sign, and (5) word of mouth. Thus, the designer must use various means to communicate with potential clients in a manner that attracts them to seek design services.

Figure 5-1

Example of a company brochure.

Advertisements Homeowners may learn about a design firm from advertisements placed in newspapers, local magazines, or programs for musical or sporting events, or on local TV and radio. These advertisements are typically small in size or short in length, so they must capture potential clients’ attention with few words and captivat­ing images. It is essential that the images or photographs in advertisements be engag­ing because they are apt to be the first thing seen and because they can potentially convey the feeling and style of the designer’s work. When possible, it is wise to hire a professional graphic designer or production company to produce an advertisement that will reach the intended audience. An advertisement, although sometimes costly, has the potential to reach a wide audience.

Brochure It is good practice for a design firm to have a brochure that can be mailed or handed directly to potential clients. A brochure commonly contains text and pho­tographs about the designer’s work, design philosophy, process, and fees (Figure 5—1). Here, too, appearance and layout of the brochure is critical to communicating effec­tively and enticing the potential client. Professional input is once again suggested in creating a brochure that can effectively communicate to potential clients.

Web Site An Internet Web site is a business necessity in the electronic age (Figure 5—2). A Web site is in essence a digital version of a brochure, although it has the added advantage of being interactive and available at any time. It can permit the potential client to navigate among multiple pages with menus and click on informa­tion or photographs. Additional benefits of a Web site are that it can be frequently up­dated and linked with other Web sites, allowing for more connections.

Job Signs An effective way to reach potential clients is by erecting small, attractive signs at active jobsites. A sign can identify who designed the project that is under way, who is installing it, and the appropriate telephone numbers. Potential clients are often curious about what neighbors might be doing and who is doing the work, particularly if the work in progress is attractive as it nears completion.

Word of Mouth Finally, one of the best means of having potential clients learn about a designer’s work is from past clients or others who have worked with the de­signer. Perhaps the best form of advertisement is to have previous clients give positive recommendations about the designer to friends and acquaintances. Thus, it is impor­tant for the designer to complete quality work and to maintain ongoing relationships with past clients. A once-a-year holiday greeting card or an occasional mailing that highlights recently completed work can keep past clients abreast of one’s professional business status and make them feel that they are still valued.