16 Tips From Michael Bierut on How To Get Clients

Nationally acclaimed designer Michael Bierut from Pentagram speaks candidly to an audience of CreativeMornings about a little-discussed subject – clients. In his video, he gives his tips for the designer-client relationship, explaining how it can make or break a designer. Michael wants designers to understand that clients are the distinguishing agent between art and design. Below is a summary of his insight into successful and satisfying designer-client relationships.

1- Clients make the difference between art and design. Working with others to create, for a purpose, signifies design.

2- Work on projects that excite you. If the project itself is less than appealing, start by finding common ground with your client. Connect at this level, and share the vision together. Become partners.

3- Clients and designers share one thing in common, the human factor. There are good and bad clients. Sometimes difficult people become good clients. Such clients are common to both the seasoned and fresh designer.

4- There are clients who love design and those who are indifferent to it. The best clients are confident in your abilities as well as their own. If they are indifferent to design, getting the job done is their only concern. Though design-oriented clients may be preferred, it is not always necessary to work with them.

5- Never educate a client. It’s a partnership, remember? Find out what they want, and how much will they allow. Recognize that ninety-nine percent of the discussion is about the client’s business and goals, and one percent about how to achieve it.

6- As Berg Holloman said, work with people smarter than yourself.

7- Look for clients with passion, whom you can trust, and who have courage. Work in tandem with them, remembering you are in a partnership. Find clients who love what they do, whose passion will carry over to the project.

8- Be a designer who is loyal, honest, dedicated and trustworthy. We owe this to our clients. If necessary, go back and do it again to make it right.

9- Do good work if you expect to get good clients. Do bad work, and you are more likely get bad ones. Make changes as necessary to improve your client base, or you will get more of the same. The problem is that at first, you will get a range of both. Bad clients take up more time than needed.

10- If you are unhappy about a client situation, focus on the good parts of your work. Focus on what you enjoy doing day to day and try to do more of that. Over time, build a client profile and decide what type of person you work best with and the type you do not. Lavish your time on the good ones, and minimize your time with the bad.

11- Speak to clients as someone who cares about what they want rather than as an expert. Let them know you have their best interest at heart, and show them you care. Loyalty, honesty, dedication and tenacity will go far.

12- Get five great clients and you will be set for life. These are the ones who direct the path of your career. Hang on to them. Never let them go.

13- Some of your best projects might be free. It is not always easy, but if it fulfills your passion, you will find satisfaction.

14- Even bad clients have a purpose. You cannot necessarily make them into good clients, but by drawing on a particular strength, you will not lose heart with a good project.

15- Sometimes, though rarely, you will need to walk away. Be in a position that allows you to free yourself from frustrating clients.

16- Much of design has to do with understanding content. Learn this and you will get to know your client better. Embrace your clients and help them.

Beirut’s presentation retouches and finalizes the client-designer relationship to help new designers cut through anger and frustration towards a successful designing career.

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    3 Responses to “16 Tips From Michael Bierut on How To Get Clients”

    1. This is literally a goldmine of valuable insight for not just designers, but really anyone working on a business-to-client basis.

      My favorite advice from the list is definitely working with people smarter than yourself. While working with people smarter than you can hurt your ego, getting past the superfluous feelings and learning/growing/embracing different ideas is one of the quickest roads to success. Or so I believe.

      Thanks for sharing all the tips!

    2. Vivek Parmar says:

      wow what a great read. for every business to be successful you have to get clients at regular intervals of time so that you pay your online bills and look towards family easily

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