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What is the best way to deal with unrealistic clients as a graphic designer?

I am aware that some clients may want designs that don't fit in their budget and some clients may be unrealistic with how fast they want the project done, so I was wondering what would be the best and most efficient way to deal with these clients? #graphic-design #design

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Zaara’s Answer

Hi :) When the client’s budget does not match how long it will take for you to do a job with your skill set PLUS the value of your work that goes beyond a dollar amount, it means that you are not a match for each other. I hard feelings, it is just a fact. There are a huge range of design talent out there with various degrees of excellence and experience. There is always “someone cheaper” who will do the work for less money. Ideally, the client will want to work with you, cause they love YOUR work and their first priority will not be money. Ideally. If you really want to do the work, you can be flexible with how much you charge. But that does not mean charge less for the same work. That means you can charge less and have a different set of terms agreed too. For example you can agree to work for a smaller budget, but then also adjust the scope of the project. Fewer deliverables or a more favorable schedule. Design work has much value to it beyond the hours it takes to develop it. Good clients understand that. Good designers are good at explaining this to potential clients and swift out those clients who are not a fit for their business. You can look up and read Ted Leonhardt work in the topic. He has great advice and insight just on this very topic.

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Hao’s Answer

I don't have much freelance experience so my reply is mostly on how to respond to situations in an agency environment. In these situations, it may boil down to having a difficult conversation with the client about cost vs what they're asking for. You can create a matrix to help illustrate their needs vs how much it would actually cost to produce the work. You can use this to help steer the conversation and guide the client but mostly help them understand the "why." This is one of main issues that I would run into where there was a disconnect between client expectation and possible work delivered. The client isn't normally versed in design work so don't have a full sense of what is possible or how long something can take. Part of the conversation is to educate them.

Hopefully you can come to an agreement of either more time/money or reduced expectations. It can really help to come up with examples of what each scenario might looks like; help them make a choice. You can also help lean on your account representative to have these conversations.

Also, have flexible and realistic expectations of the outcomes. Sometimes, the client has agreed to pay more. Sometimes we went with the reduced work. Sometimes we just terminated the contract at the point. Sometimes losing a very difficult client might have been a blessing in disguise. Best of luck.
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Eric’s Answer

Don't be afraid to say no. If you charge a specific price, stick with that price, and don't be afraid to lose a client over it. Otherwise you are undervaluing yourself. If their budget doesn't fit the cost, simply explain to them that they need to either reconsider their budget for what they want designed, or change the scope of the project. Explain to them how long the process takes and why the price is what it is. Something to also consider. Fast, Cheap, Great design, now choose two. if they want it fast, the price should go up. If they want it fast and cheap, the quality of the design will go down.
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Kim’s Answer

Vincent,

I know almost nothing about graphic design. But I do understand communication. And, mis-communication. There are too many assumptions made up front, or, information left out in the name of expediency. You may find it helpful to make a little brochure explaining the steps and time frames., as well as post this information on your website. What exactly happens during the design phase? The back and forth with the client to finalize it, etc. The making phase. Different techniques, drying times(?), number of colors. What makes a design more complex, and therefore, more expensive? Show examples. Even if you sit down with the client and go over all of this verbally, they won't remember it and will swear you never told them.

I have seen this sort of miscommunication from doctors and lawyers. Let's say you want to file a lawsuit against someone. You find a lawyer, get started, and before long, you are having to release all your tax returns and financial records to the person who is suing you. You want your lawyer to intervene. He can't. It's part of the process. But, if you had known that up front, you may have changed your mind.

Doctors may not cover realistically what to expect from surgery. They downplay what will happen afterwards. "oh, yea, you won't be able to drive for a couple weeks." A "couple" is not the same as a "few" and 6-8 weeks is a lot longer than you anticipated. You had made plans to have someone help you out for 2 Weeks - not two MONTHS.

I've heard of computer programmers with problems similar to yours. A small business needs a program. But, sometimes they don't even know what they want! The programmer ends up having to learn all about the business and figure out what it is they need before they can even get started.

I would encourage you to re-frame your thinking about your clients. It may not be that they are so much "unrealistic" as they are "uninformed." "Unrealistic" makes it sound like it is somehow their fault. I think if you take an active role in educating them it will minimize the chance of conflict.

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