When you own a small creative agency, the sweetest word you can hear from a client is “yes!” Yes, I love it. Yes, I can’t wait to see more.
Unfortunately, clients have a hard time giving an emphatic “yes” even when they do love your work!
Because they are scared. Scared that they aren’t going to make the right decision, that they are being too hasty, that they are supposed to question and pick apart and ask a friend for their opinion because it’s the “smart” thing to do.
But there is a way to get them to “yes” faster, and it involves changing how they feel about making the decision in the first place.
I call it being the guardrails. Let me explain.
Be the Guardrails
Have you ever driven up the side of a mountain without a guard rail? It’s terrifying!
I remember driving in the Colorado Rockies one time on a ski trip. I think I literally saw a crashed car on one side of the mountain road as if to say, “You’re next.”
I never really knew the full value of guardrails until then.
Because I grew up in New York City. I took Driver’s Ed on Broadway in Manhattan.
I drive like a cab driver, which in itself might be terrifying to some. Yet I’ve never been more scared behind the wheel than when I was driving in the Rockies. I felt like I was 20 feet from my death the whole way.
And that’s all I could think about. It made me slow down. My knuckles turned white. I was shaking. And it was made even worse by the long line of cars that was piling up behind me.
This fear is very similar to what clients feel when they hire a creative and start a new project. They just dropped a bunch of money to do something that is so important to their business and brand. They don’t know what the exact outcome will look like.
They worry they might have made the wrong decision as soon as they say, “You’re hired!” And they’re scared the entire way through the project.
They do exactly what I did on the mountain highway.
They slow down and maybe start doing things they wouldn’t normally do. They think about the worst-case scenario, fill their minds with “what ifs,” and want to pump the brakes on every decision so they feel more in control.
I’ll be honest—if that mountain highway had some sort of side or guardrail, I would have instantly felt more at ease. I’d have been speeding down that road or, in my case, driving normally. But because I saw my imminent death, I couldn’t do that. I started acting in weird ways.
The lesson I think we can all learn here: You can BE the guardrails for your clients, and help them speed down the road with ease.
Combat Their Fears
As the experts-for-hire, it’s our job to make clients feel safe and assured they’ve made the right choice. We want them to feel like they’re in a good position. We’re the protective side of the highway.
This way, they can effortlessly speed down the mountain.
Now, how do we do that? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can share something from our Brandup method that we’ve found works really well.
When we show a client the logos we’ve created, I always give a speech before the big reveal that acts like Guardrails.
I say, “We’re about to show you the logos. We designed a bunch, but we’re only going to show you the 3-5 logos that are perfect for your brand. They fall very much on the creative brief we all agreed on and are within the range of what your brand needs to be. These are all on the spectrum of creative and corporate that will work for you. These are Worstofall Design-approved logos, and there is no wrong choice. What you’re going to do is decide if you want to be a little more on the corporate side or the creative side.”
And then we show them the logos—only the ones we think would be perfect for their brand.
I can confidently tell them in my speech that we were highly selective in choosing the best logos for them, even if I designed a really cool one that I was proud of that wouldn’t really work for them.
And that confidence gives the client the confidence to say yes on the spot.
You see, when clients pay a premium for your services, they aren’t just paying for great work. They are paying for your confidence in the work. Relying on and trusting the opinion and confidence of the expert is the reason why clients hire experts in the first place—and why they’re usually willing to pay more. At this point, you’ve made the process so easy for them that it’s hard for them not to be elated with the outcome.
How Can You Be the Guardrails in Your Clients?
Now I ask you: How can you be the guardrails throughout the process for your clients? How can you instill that confidence so that they have no fear, not even a small chance that if they look away for one second, it might derail their entire journey.
In our business, clients come in at 10 am, and logos are approved by noon, usually with few to no tweaks.
And the reason we have been able to replicate this experience over and over for hundreds of clients over the past 8 years is because we have a very detailed process that ensures clients feel heard and taken care of the entire way through, so they can speed up the mountain so to speak. It’s all part of the No BS Agency model that we’ve developed that allows small creative agencies become more profitable while working less, even if they are just one person. You can download the entire model for free here.
Think about how you can be the guardrails for your clients. When you can provide that level of support, a client will feel like they can’t make a wrong decision.