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How to Pitch Your Designs to Clients Like a Pro

How to Pitch Your Designs to Clients Like a Pro

So, you've spent countless hours crafting the perfect design. You've considered every tiny detail and are confident your creation will knock your client's socks off. But now comes the nerve-wracking part – pitching it.

Presenting your designs can be daunting, but it's a crucial skill for any designer. After all, you could have the most brilliant idea in the world, but it might as well be invisible if you can't sell it to your client.

Never fear, though – following these tips, you'll pitch your designs like a seasoned pro in no time! Let's dive right in…

Know Your Audience

Communicating With Client As Freelancer

Understand Your Client's Needs

The first step to any successful pitch is understanding your client's needs. Discuss their vision, goals, and pain points in-depth with them. Ask questions like:

  • What are your top priorities for this project?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What impression do you want to give?

Use active listening and take meticulous notes. Become an expert on your client!

Analyse the Competition

Knowing your client's needs isn't enough – you also need to understand the competitive landscape. Study the top players in their industry and assess how your client measures up against them. Some questions to consider:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your client's most significant competitors?
  • How do their designs, branding, and messaging compare?
  • Where are the opportunities for your client to stand out?

You can craft a targeted pitch that resonates by pinpointing what makes your client unique.

Clarify the Brief

Ask Probing Questions

Of course, clarifying the brief with your client is critical, no matter how much you research independently. Come prepared with thoughtful questions like:

  • What are your ‘must-haves' for this project? What elements are flexible?
  • What is your budget and timeline?
  • What are your success metrics? How will you measure ROI?

Getting granular details allows you to focus on your pitch. There's no point waxing lyrical about features your client doesn't want or need.

Define the Project Scope

Scoping the project properly is vital to ensure clear expectations from the outset. Collaborate with your client to define:

  • Deliverables (website, branding, illustrations etc.)
  • Technical requirements
  • Implementation Timeline
  • Costs

Agree on everything upfront to avoid scope creep later on. An undefined scope sets you up for endless revisions and an unhappy client.

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Craft a Compelling Narrative

Successful Business Pitch

Tell an Engaging Story

Your pitch shouldn't just be a boring recitation of features – it needs to captivate your client with a compelling narrative. Tell the story of how your design will:

  • Solve their problems
  • Delight their customers
  • Achieve their goals

Use simple, emotive language that resonates on a human level.

“So, Susan, imagine this – a visitor lands on your new site. They're immediately greeted with a bold, eye-catching hero image showcasing your top-selling product. The tagline speaks directly to the pain points we discussed…

Paint a vivid picture to hook your client in.

Build Anticipation

Use your storytelling skills to build anticipation throughout the pitch. Tease different sections by saying:

“And wait until you see what we've done with the navigation menu…”

Then, pause for dramatic effect before showing that aspect. It's a classic technique to keep your client engaged.

Connect Emotionally

Emotions drive human behaviour far more than logic. Play into this by connecting your pitch to positive emotions like joy, excitement, and relief.

By solving these pain points, you'll finally be able to relax, knowing your website is working 24/7 to grow your business. Just imagine that feeling of weight lifted off your shoulders.”

The more you can make your client feel something, the more your message will stick.

Use Persuasive Techniques

There are proven psychological techniques you can leverage to influence and persuade your clients:

Reciprocity

Give something small upfront (e.g. a free brand audit, valuable industry insights) to trigger the reciprocity principle. Humans have an innate tendency to want to repay in kind.

Social Proof

Share examples of other successful clients you've worked with in their industry. This establishes credibility through social proof.

“As you can see from our work with [BigCo], a leader in your space, we have deep expertise delivering transformational designs that move the needle.”

Scarcity

Subtly create a fear of missing out by highlighting the limited nature of your availability or timeline.

“Now, I only take on a few quarterly projects to ensure each client gets my full focus…”

Handled delicately, this persuasive technique can motivate action.

Consistency

Get clients to agree to small, reasonable initial steps to set a precedent. They'll then feel psychological pressure to remain consistent as you propose more significant commitments.

“Based on what we discussed about your goals, it makes perfect sense we should move forward with…”

Prepare Visuals That Wow

Presentation Design Cover Slide Example

Go Beyond Static Images

In 2023, 86% of marketers used videos as digital strategy. Follow this trend and use animated prototypes, video mockups, or interactive presentations to breathe life into your pitch.

Seeing designs in motion helps clients vividly imagine the final product. It's a chance to excite them in a way static images just can't match.

Tools like InVision, Adobe XD, and Framer allow you to create slick prototypes with minimal effort.

Prioritise Key Visuals

Decide on the few visuals that will grab attention and build the story around those. Too many images can become overwhelming and distracting.

Focus on showing:

  • High-impact elements like hero sections or visual hooks
  • Key user flows and functionality
  • Polished mockups bringing the design to life
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Make these pop off the screen, and use more straightforward imagery for everything else.

Customise Presentation Decks

Rather than regurgitating a generic slide deck, customise your visuals to feel tailored to each client. You could:

  • Use their brand colours and fonts
  • Feature imagery related to their specific products/services
  • Incorporate screenshots showing their current site (before) vs. your proposed solution (after)

This level of customisation instantly makes your pitch feel more thoughtful and relevant.

Manage Objections Smoothly

Anticipate Pushback

No matter how persuasive you are, clients will inevitably raise concerns or objections about certain aspects of your design. Don't be caught flat-footed.

Before your pitch, list potential objections and consider how you'll address them – with data, examples, simple explanations, etc.

Some common objections could be:

  • The budget or timeline is too tight
  • Certain elements seem too trendy or risky
  • The design doesn't fully align with their vision

The more prepared you are, the smoother you can overcome these hurdles.

Validate, then Reframe.

When objections arise, validate the client's viewpoint before reframing the situation. For example:

Client: “The hero section feels a bit generic. I'm concerned it won't make the impact we want.”

You: “I can understand that viewpoint, Susan. We must create something unique and attention-grabbing for your brand. What if we took this hero creative in a bolder, more distinctive direction – perhaps by…”

See how validating their objection first diffuses tensions and opens their mind to hearing your counter-perspective.

Sell the Benefits

Whenever you're facing pushback, shift the focus back to the concrete benefits of your proposed solution. Use rhetoric like:

“I know that timeline feels tight. But imagine how invigorating it will feel to have this fresh, innovative site live and driving sales in just X weeks. Not only that, by launching quickly, we can capitalise on [upcoming event/promotion/etc]”

By selling the benefits, you reframe objections into positive outcomes.

Offer Alternatives

Finally, come prepared with alternative suggestions or a “menu” of different options. This gives clients a sense of control.

“If you feel the blue is too bold for the primary colour, we could explore some alternatives – perhaps a rich shade of purple to strike a balance between vibrancy and approachability?”

Giving options diffuses the perception that your solution could be more flexible. It invites a collaborative spirit to reach a compromise.

Nail the Delivery

Understand The Client

Speak with Confidence

Even with perfect prep work, everything depends on how you deliver the pitch. Speak clearly and confidently, making eye contact with the project authority.

Avoid filler words like “umm” and “errr” – they undermine confidence. And resist self-deprecating language like “I'm just the designer” or “I'm no expert, but…” Own your expertise!

If you mess something up, don't dwell on it. Quickly recover your poise and press on.

Adopt Open Body Language

Body language accounts for 55% of the message you communicate. Avoid folded arms, hunched shoulders, fidgeting or other closed-off postures.

Instead, gesture openly and lean slightly forward to project engagement. Use purposeful, controlled movements. It will instantly make you seem more authoritative and in command.

Check For Understanding

Throughout the pitch, pause frequently to check for your client's understanding. Ask:

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“Does this make sense so far?”

“What are your initial thoughts on this direction?”

Their responses (or glazed expressions!) will indicate whether you need to circle back and re-explain anything. You'd be amazed how much can get lost in translation.

Pitch your Designs and Close Strongly

Summarise Clearly

When wrapping up, clearly summarise the key points and outline the next steps. Review:

  • The overall creative concept
  • Top features or highlights
  • Agreed-upon costs, timelines, and deliverables

This nails down alignment, so there's no ambiguity. Use the summary to demonstrate your understanding.

Regain Enthusiasm

Your final words should recapture enthusiasm and excitement even if you faced objections earlier. Pitch one more “big picture” vision to get your client fired up:

“So just imagine – in a few short weeks from now, your shiny new website presence is up and running. It's working around the clock to capture attention, earn trust, and drive sales. You can finally relax, knowing your online presence is an asset, not a liability!

Go out on a high note to leave a lasting positive impression.

Get Commitment

Don't be shy about asking directly for that next yes! After regaining energy, say something like:

“Given everything we've discussed today, I'm confident this is the ideal solution to achieve your goals. Are you ready for us to proceed with the next steps?”

That stated commitment seals the deal, so you can immediately start moving the project forward. A lukewarm “let me think about it” leaves room for cold feet to settle in.

In Summary

Whew! Pitching your brilliant work to clients isn't always easy. But by following these steps, you'll become an absolute pro:

  1. Understand your audience inside and out
  2. Clarify the brief and project scope
  3. Craft a compelling, engaging narrative
  4. Deploy proven persuasion techniques
  5. Prepare visuals that excite and inspire
  6. Manage objections smoothly
  7. Nail the delivery through confidence and body language
  8. Close with enthusiasm and get a firm commitment

With practice, pitching will go from nerve-wracking to exhilarating. You've got this!

So get out there, wow some clients, and watch your designs come to life. Just remember me when you're famous! πŸ˜‰

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long should a typical design pitch last?

Most design pitches should be 45 minutes to an hour. You want to share an overview of the critical aspects without bogging down in too much granular detail. Leave room for discussion and questions from the client.

Should I share my entire thought process and design iterations?

You don't need to bore the client with every iteration. Focus on sharing the final design solution and critical reasons behind major decisions. You can briefly mention learnings from early iterations if relevant.

What if I get incredibly negative feedback or criticism?

Stay calm and avoid getting defensive. Validate the client's viewpoint, then reframe the conversation around solving their concerns. Suggest booking a follow-up discussion to reset and find a better solution cooperatively if needed.

How many concepts should I pitch?

Pitch 2-3 different high-level concepts maximum. Any more than that tends to overwhelm and confuse clients. Present 1-2 primary directions you believe in, with 1 “safe” third option that sticks closer to the brief. Avoid giving them too many wildly different options to pick between.

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Should I pitch in person or remotely?

An in-person pitch lets you read body language and facial expressions better. But a pre-recorded video or live virtual presentation lets you control the delivery better. Each option has pros and cons – do what works best for both parties. The most important thing is your confidence and preparation.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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