Making clients' cash work harder

Everyone wants the big-spending multinational corporate account, but the reality is that most clients have smaller budgets, and they may not have previous design experience. As a designer, you're not just an expert in Photoshop and Illustrator; you're hired to be a genius communicator who understands physical, digital and social media. You also need to be enough of a diplomat and psychologist to discover what clients really want - which might not be what they're asking for.

Xander Ashwell is a freelance designer with a track record of projects at every level, from small community rebranding such as the Refuel Business Caf in Leicester to national campaigns for the NHS. As he puts it, the first question you ask clients is the most important one when it comes to ensuring that you deliver value for their money. "I don't ask clients what tools or media they want. I start by asking what outcome they want, and what problem they want to solve," says Ashwell. "In fact, I have a very broad set of questions I work through. Some are generic, others are intended to generate thought or debate. This helps make the client think about their needs, and it also weeds out people who are fishing. If someone asks for a quote and they get questions in reply, I don't hear from them again if they're not serious about their project."

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