Today, I went back to work after a 2-week vacation. One of the first emails I opened was from a fairly new client – firing me. My heart sank, then pounded, then lifted. Sad, angry, relieved.
A long time ago, in a Facebook group for small business owners, I remember reading someone say that they loved when people unsubscribed from their email list. For most people, it was a failure. But for her, it was a great success. She was narrowing down her niche! She was making her audience more specific! That one person leaving made room for all the people who did want to hear her message! It was an eye-opening revelation for me.
I see clients leaving as the same thing. And here’s why.
All the Better for Them
It may sound passive-aggressive, but I am truly happy when a client leaves me because they can now move on to someone better. Maybe not objectively skillfully better than I am, I’m not saying that. (Although, good for them if they find someone who is a better designer!) But a better match for them.
All relationships are special, from personal ones to business ones. If that person wasn’t a good match for me, to the point where they wrote an email titled “You’re Fired”, then there must be someone out there who is a better fit. Now that they’ve moved away from me, they will know more about what they do and don’t want in this kind of relationship. I’ve seen a handful of ex-clients with sites that were fantastic! Things I never could have done or come up with and I am truly happy for those clients. Why shouldn’t I be?
I Suddenly Have More Time (And Less Stress)
I’m a fairly emotional person, to be frank, and when my clients are struggling or are not satisfied, I lose sleep over it. I put research into what’s going wrong. I talk to my friends about it to try and figure out what I can be doing better. I’ll start on their projects at the beginning of the day before anyone else’s because I want to bridge the gap between floundering and success. When they do decide to move on, suddenly I have so much more time! I don’t have to lose sleep or worry about how their project is going. Instead, I can move on to giving my happier clients extra love.
100% of the clients who have fired me (which, thankfully, hasn’t been too many) were extremely stressful, tiring, and stubborn people. The firing never came out of the blue. A lot of arguing and back-and-forth would precede the breakup. So when it’s over, it’s like a huge emotional weight has been lifted. Sure, it stings a little to know that I didn’t make it work. But when you leave any bad relationship, there is always, eventually, the feeling of freedom.
Nothing Was Lost
This point is a little bit more on the selfish side. I’ve structured my business to ask for a 50% non-refundable deposit at the very start. This covers all the work I do up until the end. There have been 1 or 2 people who didn’t like this concept and therefore, chose to move on. But for the most part, people accept it and pay it and don’t regret it.
When I get fired for a project, it’s almost a monetary gain. I usually haven’t done half the work yet, but I still got half of the payment. It sounds a little selfish and almost like a scam, I know. When I was fired the first time, I considered giving the money back! But it occurred to me that it is my responsibility to make sure the client is the right fit for me and it is equally the client’s responsibility to make sure I am the right fit for them. I love when new clients ask me millions of questions and keep me on that first call forever. It means they care about their project and they want to make sure I am the best possible solution for them. It’s their money being spent, not mine.
And honestly, even if I put a good amount of work into the project and get fired, I can never not use the practice. Typically, the firing happens within the first month or so, so not too much work goes in. But even if I was almost finished, even if I was 90% done, that work still made me a better designer, even if I don’t get to add ut to my portfolio.
I’m One Step Closer to Never Losing a Client Again
It sounds so cheesy, but everything is a learning experience if you want it to be. When a client breaks up with me, I am forced to ask myself what I could have done to have prevented it. Not, “What could I have done to make them stay?” But rather, “What could I have done to realize earlier on that this person and I were not a good fit?”
In the most recent instance, I realized I need to be more upfront about my process. I need to tell potential clients that they will be required to do a certain amount of work to make the project happen. I won’t be able to show them anything without that work being done. I also need to make sure that my clients are familiar and comfortable with Google Drive, or at least willing to learn. My last client wasn’t on board with it at all and just got annoyed when I asked if there was another method she would prefer.
Hopefully, if I learn from each experience, I will end up with a perfect interview method, perfect intake method, and perfect onboarding method and therefore, perfectly satisfied clients!
Videos are an amazing way to present your business, promote your products, and connect with your audience. In fact, one-third of online activity is spent watching video and social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined!
There’s no debating the importance of video. But it can seem intimidating or tricky to get started! So I’ve put together a list of ways that you can start using video for your business both right away and as part of a long-term marketing plan.
1. Film your work process.
If you make a product (or even offer a service!), filming your work process is a great way to show how special your offerings are. You can use this as an opportunity to highlight your ingredients/materials or demonstrate the amount of work and the details that go into each one of your projects.
Pierre-Antoine Moelo did an amazing job with this, filming his watercolor process from a camera stationed above his workspace. By doing this in a time lapse style video, he was able to showcase his in-depth process without taking up too much of his viewers’ time.
Here are some other great ways that you can take advantage of time lapse videos for different industries:
Set up a video camera (or even your phone!) on a tripod and film the process of designing a living room.
Record your illustration, graphic design, or art process.
Film yourself decorating a cake or making a steak.
Use a tripod to film the furniture-making process.
There are lots of applications for this, but just make sure that your camera is steady and that you don’t make your videos so long that they lose the interest of your viewers!
2. Show your behind-the-scenes culture.
This is your chance to show the vision and purpose of your company behind the products and services that you sell. And it lets you show off your mission in a more interactive and engaging way than static text or images on your website!
You want your culture video to tell a story, so even if you want to have a basic script, try to find some candid, real stories surrounding your company, products, or employees. Not only can this go a long way with potential customers, it can also help attract high-quality employees.
This video from Axis Studios does a great job showcasing the culture of their company, highlighting their employees, and showing off the benefits of working there.
3. Create a spoof of something your clients will understand.
Can you think of something that you hear clients complain about all the time? Create a funny video about it! This is a great video format for social media because it’s memorable, sharable, and engaging. They can also work well in combination with a blog post on the topic.
One of my personal favorites is this video from Tripp and Tyler. They took all of the hassle and frustration from conference calls and turned that into a hilarious video that everyone can connect to.
Just be super careful that you’re not making fun of a specific person or anything that could be construed as insensitive or rude.
4. Make some tutorials that show you know your stuff.
Tutorial videos are an amazing way to show off your knowledge and share really useful information with your clients. They can be paired with blog posts, shared on social media, or included in a resource library accessible by an email address.
And if you’re demonstrating anything on your computer (website instructions, software tips, graphic design, tools, etc.) you can easily use the screen share function of QuickTime for free! Or, software like Camtasia has even more advanced tools like highlighting mouse clicks.
EZLynx used this method to share how to perform a specific function in their software using Camtasia and a professional voiceover artist, but you could absolutely do something similar on your own!
5. Take advantage of live video.
Live video (like Facebook live!) offers an incredible opportunity to interact live, “face-to-face” with your audience. It can seem a bit intimidating, but with a little practice, it’s absolutely worth it!
Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use live video:
Have a live Q&A session with your customers
Announce the winner of a giveaway
Share some of a live event or training
Show off something exciting happening in the office
Do a live auction of your products or services
Show breaking news stories
Just make sure to spend some time on your setup and lighting and heed some of these live video tips to make the most of your video.
6. Interview your clients or customers.
Sitting down with a client after a job is finished and filming a testimonial is a great way to share your successes with potential clients. Then, you can add these videos to your website as social proof or share them to your social media accounts.
Just don’t make them stiff and uncomfortable! Catch a client right after finishing their project, when they’re happy with what you’ve done. And make sure that you’re as fast as possible – you don’t want to take up too much of their time.
Coastal Solar uses this technique, sitting down with their customers right after finishing a solar project. They display these together with testimonials on their site, as well as in their portfolio.
7. Film a promotional video.
A promotional video can mean a variety of different things. It can promote a product launch, a new location, a service, or even your company as a whole. But it’s designed to sell, featuring the highlights of what you have to offer.
The key to a good promotional video is to present pertinent information (like why someone should buy your product, statistics, testimonials, etc.) in the form of a story. And these videos can be used on multiple platforms – your website, social media platforms, search engine marketing, email marketing, digital ads, etc. Depending on the video, you could even use it as a commercial if that’s in your marketing plan and budget!
Tandur Indian Kitchen used promotional video to share their story, show off beautiful and compelling footage of their food, and explain why their style of Indian cooking is so authentic and different from what else is out there.
The most important way to start using video for your business, though, is just to get started. Jump on some Facebook live videos, do some screen share tutorials, or just start filming your process. It doesn’t have to be expensive – use your iPhone to start getting decent footage for now (but make sure to film side-to-side!) until you have the budget for better equipment or for a videographer.
And have fun with it! Video is such a great opportunity to share and connect with your audience; don’t be afraid to show some personality.
What are your favorite videos that you’ve seen companies produce?
Kathryn Marr is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Blue Ivory Creative, a digital marketing company based out of Nashville, TN. A graphic and web designer, and digital marketing expert, she brings a passion for entrepreneurship and creativity to the table. Kathryn loves helping people pursue their dreams and be successful doing what they love to do.