When you’re running a design agency one of the questions you commonly get asked is whether or not you have experience working with a certain type of client or in a certain industry. This question is usually asked by someone you’re trying to turn into a client, and it creates a sort of empty feeling in the stomach if you have to answer “no, but…”
In mid-2004 we were pitching to a business law firm in Salt Lake City. They had moved to new digs, had a new logo, and were ready for a new website when we (MWI) were contacted.
We went up against about 10 firms to get the deal. We prepared a proposal, created a nice new marketing piece to display our work, and we were ready for the presentation.
Everything went pretty well in our presentation up until the moment we were asked “Have you ever designed a law firm website before?”
When asked that question, a number of things run through a designer’s head, most of them starting with “No, but…” unless they have done a law firm website before. The other things are along the lines of “If I’ve never done a law firm website before, and every law firm client asks that, how will I ever do a law firm website?” I had a number of thoughts running through my head, but my creative director spoke up first. What he said was something along the lines of “No, but good design is good design is good design, and we know good design.”
That’s very true, but I couldn’t help feeling, perhaps mistakenly, that the client was thinking “Gee, that sounds pretty lame compared to ‘Yes, we have! Here are ten examples!'”
It’s easy for us to say that there are good designers and bad designers, and that getting a good designer with no experience in a given industry is better than a bad designer with tons of experience, but then you run into another problem–the client doesn’t know good from bad. You show them work you’ve done, and you compare that to the worst work you can find by another designer, and half the time the client can’t tell the difference, or likes the worse work better than yours.
Out of the ten firms that were brought into the bidding process, it came down to us and one other firm. We were local, so that was a plus for us. But the other firm had done over ten law firm websites, so even though they were out of state they had experience on their side. So we did what any other self-respecting web design agency would do–we discounted our prices until the client couldn’t say no and got the work.
The site’s just about ready go live. You can see it at http://sh.mwi.com
Now we have done a law firm website, and we won’t be stuck in that same situation again. Of course that only helps us in one industry, but at least we can check that one off and start working on some others. I think in this business that’s just what you have to do sometimes–you do whatever it takes to get the business until you’ve built up a portfolio and a reputation, and then you become high-priced and egotistical like all the other agencies.Liked it? Share it!