How to speak your client's language
This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
You run your own business. You’ve learned to walk the walk. But what about talking the talk?
When you are absorbed in your own specialty, it becomes second nature. If you’re a website developer, coding to you has become a second language. But what if you had to explain it to a client? Can be a little tough, right? That transition of becoming the teacher and viewing things from someone else’s shoes.
Now language is a funny thing. Even with your native language you'll hear different slang, different accents, different terminology. And when it comes to clients, you’ll witness the same thing.
And guess what… ya gotta speak their language, baby!
I have had plenty of meetings with clients for their branding where a very specific moment hits and I know I need to communicate differently. Their eyes start to glaze over. I can see the hamsters on their wheels working overtime within that already reeling business-owner head.
I need to back that thing up and explain my process in a way that they will understand and help them rather than overwhelm them. After all, they are hiring me because they don’t know what a brand is. Learning a new language can create hair-pulling moments but here are a few ways you can save your client a few headaches, and hopefully gain some accounts in the process:
Make it relatable
Sometimes your client will look at you like you have three heads. Throwing around terminology from your industry can be overwhelming for them and they tune out. Try and make a real-life comparison to what you are trying to explain instead.
For example, with logos I compare them to a tattoo, explaining to the client that they can love Game of Thrones, pizza, the rainbow, and their dog. But it doesn’t mean they need to cram all of that into their company’s brand.
Putting your profession into terms that meet their world changes their prospective a bit and makes the rest of what they are learning a bit more cohesive.
Do your research
The client has most likely done their research on the assets they need to gain a better understanding when they are about to take the leap. Just like when you go car shopping, you do some reading about different companies, different models, etc. It helps you better understand the mumbo-jumbo the dealer may hit you with.
So go ahead and do that same research with your client’s expertise. Not only does this help build a relationship with them, but it will help you in producing the materials they need.
And boom… now you are starting to speak each other’s languages.
I don’t expect a client to know the ins and outs of my business, but I like to provide them with the tools that will help them once we are done our work together. “But Becky, don’t you want them to come back to you???”
Well yes, Internet friend. BUT I also believe in sharing the wealth. A lot of the times the answers we need are right in front of us (Hello, Google) but helping your client understand what your services are helping them with in the long run will gain their trust and ultimately help their business strive.
And I don’t know about you, but I think helping them grow is just as damn important.
Chances are you are covering a lot of information with the client. And we are only human and our brains can only hold so much memory (usually only a few gigabytes, comparable to your iPod or USB flash drive).
Sending a recap after your meeting can be a life (and time!) saver. It puts all that talking on paper, which could be how your client prefers to learn in the first place.
Taking the time and effort to speak someone’s business language can come with many benefits. You are gaining trust, building that relationship, and you are both teaching each other a few things in the process.
Spread the wealth, people!
Becky Mickletz is the owner of Remickz Marketing, focusing on graphic design, branding bootcamps and content creation for clients near and far. Outside of work she loves podcasts, being in good ol' Mother Nature, puns, and good tunes. Follow her on Instagram.