Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Project
Starting a new project with a new client can be exciting. I mean who doesn’t love the opportunity to dive into your gifts and of course the unspoken elephant (make more $$$).
BUT, there are key things you should ask any potential client before officially signing any paperwork. Although this may seem like an unnecessary hassle, it will actually save you so much time in the long run.
Here are the reasons it is so important to have an initial conversation full of detailed questions.
It is important to understand expectations. The more detailed you are in asking questions, the more prepared you will be to meet those expectations (and/or walk away). Oftentimes clients have an idea of what they think they want but as you have a deeper dive you may come to realize what they actually want isn’t what they initially presented. Another thing is to understand there may be a differentiation between what the client wants and what the client needs. Realizing this is important. How receptive is the client to acknowledging these needs? This will tell you more than you know.
Setting a standard of open and clear communication is the strongest foundation you can set for any working relationship. As in any relationship (platonic, romantic, or professional), communication is the gateway to success. If you do not feel comfortable challenging a thought or completely stating why you believe something, then that is a red flag that this is not the right fit.
VIBES. VIBES. VIBES. You need to make sure you actually like this potential client’s personality! Do you all vibe together? Is their chemistry? This may seem silly and may not be top priority, but it is important. After all, you will be spending a substantial amount of time together depending on the magnitude of the project. Client compatibility is most definitely a thing and something you should consider!
Question To Ask:
Why do you think you need this service?
How will you measure success on this project?
What metric is most important to you?
How do you think (the service) will help you reach your business goals for the year?
If I was your fairy godmother and could solve anything you needed in regards to your branding what would it be?
Consider using the “why” method when asking these questions.
When asking these questions, especially the ones about metrics and success keep asking “why”. Many times initial answers may be broad and general. This practice can also be very eye-opening to the potential client.
Q: Why do you think you need this service?
A: Because I want to have pretty banding
Q: Yes, but why?
A: Because I want to showcase our products better
A: Because I want to attract more customers
A: Because I want to reach our target numbers for Q4!
This final answer gives you the core mission for your work with this client. Understanding your potential client’s bottom line will help you cut through the noise and offset so many future issues down the road.
Be upfront about money.
Talking about money can be super awkward, which is totally unfair considering within this context the money will be rightfully yours. This is why it is essential to be completely upfront about the financial expectations for this working project. How much will your services cost? What are your expectations for payment (due date, grace period)?
Many times, a potential client will try to negotiate with you about your prices. Before you ever speak to this client, have a talk with yourself about how much wiggle room you’re willing to offer and then stay true to this. The right client will pay you without question. Only you can determine the proper boundaries with this.
Fresh photography if you are a products-based business, new product photography is a great way to upgrade your content without having to do a full rebrand and you can incorporate these images in everything from your website to social media and email marketing.
Another option for a brand refresh is to update your color palette, website graphics or copywriting on your site. Sometimes a new splash of color and graphics are just the upgrade you need to make a big difference without breaking the bank.
Rebrands are a great opportunity when you are looking to pivot your company or change your company's name. Maybe you are shifting your business goals, bringing on new products or targeting a different persona. Rebrands allow for a fresh new start. Think of it like when you get a new haircut. New cut and color = equals a whole new me!
Ultimately, no one is a fortune teller and can know exactly what will happen in the future. All you can do is put your best foot forward and be honest and clear in your communication. Sometimes client inquiries can turn into long-lasting working relationships. Other times, even with the best of intentions, sometimes things just do not work out. And that is okay, but always end on good terms!
What matters most is honoring your boundaries that will help you continue to create meaningful work.