Launching Long-Term Client Relationships (for Creatives)

By: Rachel Mehta

Projects begin with the best intentions, yet work can quickly derail. How can expectations be communicated clearly and boundaries set with clients, while also paving the way for future work and referrals?

[Related: Believe It or Not, Your Closest Friends Probably Won’t Help You Professionally]

Project yourself as a professional.

Manage expectations from the start.

It’s your job to set the tone and provide realistic expectations on how long the steps of a project will take and what the client’s role is in keeping the project flowing. If you provide three logo design directions five days after the contract is signed, then it takes the client three weeks to reply with their feedback, then the entire project cannot be completed in “a few weeks” as the client initially requested.

Explain the process and workflow in the initial phone call and put this information on the contract so it is in writing and the client is aware of your timeline and their responsibility to keep the project on schedule. Problems will arise if there’s a mismatch of expectations. Include language in the agreement document explaining how many business days each step will generally take and at what points the client will need to provide formal feedback or edits.

If it’s a larger project, once the agreement is signed, have a kickoff call and/or send a questionnaire to gather the information you need to get started. Sample questions could be: Describe your ideal client or B2B customer; what adjectives should come to mind when people think about your company; and who are your competitors?

Protect your time and headspace.

In short, you do not want clients assuming they can pick up the phone and call you anytime. That opens you up for tech support calls and little favors outside of scope.

Create a Calendly link and share with clients so they become accustomed to scheduling calls with you in advance.

[Related: A Year-Round Guide to Self-Advocacy]

Communication is key.

If it’s a multi-stage project and you think the client would benefit, invite them to monitor progress, view files, and add feedback through a project management system like 17hats or Plutio.

Post-project.

I’ve often seen a news article relating to a client’s business or industry and forwarded the article. Start a newsletter providing something resourceful to your clients and leverage it by adding in a little piece about a recent project you’ve done for a client.

In conclusion.

[Related: How I Engaged a Global Team to Launch a Product Line Without Meeting Them In-Person]

Rachel Mehta founded Heights Marketing, a marketing agency based in New Jersey, in 2013.

Originally published at https://www.ellevatenetwork.com.

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