Ask a million questions. And then ask some more.
I tell clients all the time, “I’m not a ______, but I want to help you build this brand, this experience, this world, for your ______ company. I only know what you tell me, so help me help you by giving me in-depth answers.”
Sometimes you’ll get one-word answers. Encourage the client to keep going, or do like a 5 year old and just keep asking why, why, why. Eventually you’ll get to the deeper level of the problem.
It’s more important to ask the right questions than it is to ask a million questions, though. I’ve got a handful of design questionnaires to ask clients, and I’ve been working on them over the years. One before starting a big project, one for a logo and branding project, one for websites, one for after the project is done, etc. I continue to tweak them after each use. Depending on the person, and what I already know, I may tailor the questions directly to their needs, but over the years, I’ve gathered that these are pretty versatile.
Having a list of graphic design questions to ask clients can help you craft more effective solutions for them, it can save you time, and it can even earn you more money.
The point of all the questions is to get inside the head of the client. Again, I only know what you tell me about your business. I’ll always do my own research, and you should too. The questions don’t negate the research, but they are a big part of it.
Sometimes I send them in a long list in an email, sometimes I go through them over the phone, and I’ve recently been using a web app that not only streamlines the process, but is really user friendly on both the back and front end, so clients find it less painful to go through and answering 50-some-odd questions. They’re busy people too.
A few examples of some of the questions:
What’s the biggest long-term goal of your team? This will help you see how you can propose to add value with the project.
What makes you different from any other competitor in town? This will also give you a good start on developing a value-add or a differentiator for their business, if they don’t have one already.
How many transactions do you do a month? This’ll help you see if they’re smaller or bigger and how your solutions can help them grow.
What’s the average income from a single transaction? And this, multiplied by the response of the previous question, can help you see how much is fair to charge. How much to charge is a whole ‘nother
blog book encyclopedia of its own, but this can help.
How’d you hear about my work? Any specific projects you like? This is a big one, because it can get you straight to the point with what they like or think they might want from you – a task that can become arduous, depending on the person. It’s also a super easy one.
The cool thing about my questionnaires is, I’ve been tweaking them for years. They’ve gotten better with each use. I’ve arranged them in such a way that easier questions like, “How’d you hear about my work” are followed by tougher questions, helping the client commit. I think I might share them with subscribers one of these days, so sign up!
But if you look at them again, you might notice that they’re all about people, like I mentioned in tip #2. You’ll have plenty of time to talk about serifs or sans serifs, teals vs aquas, etc. That stuff can come out through the design process.
Having a list of graphic design questions to ask clients can help you craft more effective solutions for them, it can save you time, and it can even earn you more money. I always tell new clients, sort of as a way of apologizing for all the questions in the beginning, “if a designer isn’t asking a bunch of questions, they’re only after your wallet and not your success.”
The list of questions is about figuring out a way to give a solution that’s bigger than pixels. It can be tough at first, depending on your personality, but we’ll talk more about confidence in the next blog.