How to Create Remarkable Client Relationships

Unremarkable Experiences Are Everywhere

When you think of the companies you deal with, are they remarkable – in a good way?

It’s probably easier for you to remember which companies are unremarkable. There are many successful businesses that have frankly awful relationships with their customers.

Cable companies are a great example of this, as I recently discovered when I stayed at my parent’s new house in Florida. I couldn’t sleep because of all the electronics in their spare room, so I unplugged it and got my solid 8 hours.

I woke the next morning to a household in absolute pandemonium. It turns out that I hadn’t just unplugged the Wi-Fi, I’d unplugged the whole house. The electronics was their SmartHome Hub. Everything was down: the air conditioner, phone, internet, TV, security alarm, washing machine – the lot.

unhappy customer -painted faceThe whole process of dealing with the cable company was painful; ridiculously long account numbers, getting passed between departments, long periods on hold. I’m sure many of you can empathize. Finally, I’m informed that they’ll send an engineer out to restart the system…in 6 days.


After a lot of back-and-forth, they finally agreed to send an engineer the next day. It was an uphill battle just to get a basic service from a company we were already paying. I was left stressed out from a simple phone call.

When it comes to business relationships, this was definitely at the low end of the scale! But really, you don’t see a lot of really remarkable relationships out there – at all.

Think about it. You’ve definitely had an experience that makes you remember it, in a positive light.


Those are the companies that you recommend, the times you think of when someone asks you about your experience. Have you ever said to a friend, ”Oh, use these people, I had the best experience with them…?” I’m sure you have.

What’s a Remarkable Client Relationship Anyway?

When someone goes out of their way to create an exceptional experience, you’ll remember it. Here’s a story I heard recently about exactly that:

My friend, Bob, gets in a taxi to catch his flight home from Houston airport. As soon as he gets in the cab, he notices a copy of the Wall Street Journal on the seat. The driver turns around to Bob, greets him formally, points out that the newspaper is his to take on the plane if he wishes, and invites him to help himself to a cool drink from the cooler.


This quickly turns into the best taxi Bob’s ever had. When they arrive at the airport, the driver helps him out, directs him to his check-in desk, and hands over his card, saying,

“I’d love to be your driver, whenever you’re in Houston. Whenever you’re here, give me a call and I’ll pick you up at the airport.”

Thinking about the experience later at home, Bob Googles the average cab driver’s salary in Houston. It’s around $20k. So, he emails the guy to thank him and commend him on his service and asks him how much he makes. It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that this taxi driver makes $150k a year! All of that from regular clients, who call him when they’re in town.

So, this clever taxi driver is making 7x the average salary, simply by providing a great service and building remarkable relationships with his clients.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships

Even A Little Goes a Very Long Way

Creating a remarkable client relationship doesn’t mean you have to perform some back-breaking client service. Far from it. Less can often be more

Take one of our BA members, who was dropping off his car at an airport carpark. All the stresses of finding a spot to park, along with the general travelling woes we can all get, was making the experience pretty awful.

But then, when the shuttle arrived to take them to the airport, all these were completely mitigated by the attitude of their driver. She went so far out of her way to improve the experience of her passengers that it changed their entire trip. She even hugged everyone as they got off the bus, wishing them a safe flight and a ‘see-you-soon’.

cool-sparklers-memorable-experience (1)

Now, that’s a remarkable experience. And if you think about it, it really didn’t cost very much at all, apart from a bit of energy and love. Those little extras really can go a very long way. How often do you find yourself talking about an airport car park in a positive light?

How to Create Remarkable Relationships With Your Clients

What does an exceptional/remarkable experience look like for your clients?

With my own business, I try to create systems that make it easy for my clients.  It used to be that everyone would be looking for the Zoom link before a group call. Then I started sending reminder notes with the link the day before. Problem solved. That’s just one point of contact but there are many.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships

Commit to Creating an Amazing Experience

Try to write down what kind of experience you want your clients to have with your company. Write this down and fill in the blank: ”I want my clients to have an amazing experience that…” You decide.

freelancer-business-meeting -handshake

From this vision, you can start creating a system that you and your team can follow, to help ensure your customers have the best experience.

Whether that’s a birthday card, a ‘welcome kit’, a ‘feedback survey’, or simply reminders to touch base regularly with clients, it all helps. If you’re unsure of where to start, examine each stage of your customer’s journey and ask yourself, ‘how can I make things easy and even fun for my clients here’.

Once you’ve committed to a vision of a great experience, and put systems into place behind it, you’ll be well on your way to creating remarkable client relationships.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships

Create a Memorable Client Onboarding Experience

One of the most important processes for creating great client relationships is you on-boarding; how your clients are initiated as customers.


You want to start thinking about how you can make it easier for yourself and your team make every client interaction memorable, creating a great relationship from step 1 onwards.

Start with a ‘touchpoint’ analysis for your business. What are the touch points for your business? Can your prospects and clients find you when they want to? Can they call you? Are you creating an easy and comfortable customer journey?

Sometimes bad clients aren’t bad, they’ve just never worked with a creative before and need you to help you guide them. To remedy this, you could create a project schedule, so they understand where the project is and where it’s going at all times.

Often you may find things you think they know all about, they actually know NOTHING about. Take the time to explain the work and the process and they will really appreciate your honesty and transparency. Maybe even let them glimpse your working process, and they may appreciate the skill what you do even little more.

open scheduling planner book agenda (1)

Create Real Connections With Your Real (Human) Clients

Sometimes, just reaching out to people on a human level, genuinely being interested in their lives and listening to what they are actually saying is remarkable.

Even if you’re not going to end up taking on a project, it can’t hurt to take 5 or 10 minutes to help someone out. Giving your advice and taking the time to engage with people and figure out what they need is memorable. You’ll probably find that approaching your prospect meetings like this gets you referrals, even if it’s not from them!

man and his client having a casual conversation

The most important thing here is connecting with your clients on a human level. I always phone or Skype when interacting with my clients about anything remotely important. Not only can they reduce the confusion and time taken on a task, they also help to make the relationship real, as opposed to just a business one.

Once your clients are ‘through the door’, think of ways you can do something unexpected for your clients, things that make them enjoy working with you – things that make them say, ‘wow’.

Even something seemingly small and un-businesslike can help build these relationships. When you take the time and thought to send someone something, even a card, sharing an article, asking after their family, you’re creating that remarkable client relationship.

Get As Much Feedback As Possible

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, and implement it! Embrace all your negative feedback because it will help you to improve. Pay attention if things get a negative reaction. What can you do to make it a better experience? Often those that give negative feedback which is resolved turn into your most satisfied (and vocal) customers.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships


Photos by Andre Hunter, Kinga Cichewicz, John Cobb,, Tim GouwCollin Armstrong, Eric Rothermel and Anna Vander Stel on Unsplash





Six things your creative businesses can learn from corporate branding

If you think your creative business is too small to worry about branding…

Then think again!

Although many small business owners are half-right to think this, they’re also half-wrong. Branding does matter, no matter how big or small your business.

But the term ‘branding’ is heavily overused. I tossed it around for 25 or so years, as a tool to help companies like Kraft and Coca-Cola define themselves and their product.

But today, I try to avoid even using the term ‘branding’ when speaking to small business owners.

Unfortunately, whether your revenue is 100k or 100 million, how any business defines itself AND it’s customers is critical. It’s this aspect of branding where multinational corporations exceed and so where we should be taking a cue from.

Most international corporations will spend millions on research and market-testing before they ever make a public move. But don’t worry – you don’t need to max out your marketing budget just yet. Here are six ways you can achieve the clarity of vision you need to create a meaningful and impactful for your creative business.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.

1. Know why you’re in the business, and where you’re going.

Every business is in business to make money. Beyond that, why are YOU in business? What keeps you going when things get tough? Where do you want to be in 3 years? What’s the vision?

Usually, when I ask this question, I get passionate responses – people really unleash their dreams trying to tell you why. This is definitely the advantage all small businesses have; the passion behind your vision. It’s this passion and vision that you want to speak to your customers, through your branding.

Big companies lack that passion – a symptom of their size. Instead, they need data-driven models, market research, test groups and extensive analytics just to get them to take a step forward, backwards, or even sideways!

But, you have to be realistic when constructing a vision for your brand too. Ask yourself, what are the obstacles in the way of achieving that vision? Is it you? Is it your team? Are your vision and goals aligned with your current capabilities as a business?

Many small business owners think they have to do everything themselves. The truth is, you don’t need to do everything yourself and the most successful entrepreneurs don’t. Running a business can be a whirlwind of decision making, so give yourself time to sit down and work out which of your goals require delegating or outsourcing.

This seems like a mammoth task, but really it can be as simple as keeping a record (of any kind!) of your thoughts and ideas around your business. Later, when you sit down, you’ll find it much easier to condense these into a single, realistic vision for your brand.

2. Know where your money is coming from

Although it may seem like a silly question, many businesses don’t fully know where their revenue is really coming from.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.

Do you know who your least profitable customers are?
What’s your financial goal in 2018? Do you know the steps you need to take to reach that goal?

These kinds of questions help you form a better idea of your brand’s pricing structure; what type of customer uses your business the most, and what type the least. Tap into what your biggest fans think about your business and use that to guide your financial structure and goals.

One of my clients once catered for 18 weddings in a single summer, without making a cent in profit. By the end of it, she was nearly broke and burnt out. Why? Because she lacked confidence in her own expertise (although her customers would sing her praises) and didn’t price accordingly.

Global corporations don’t flinch when it comes to pricing. You’re an expert, so pay attention to your customers and price yourself and your brand accordingly.

3. Are you making enough noise?

When it comes to branding, you can’t assume that your customers will just remember you of their own free will. You’re going to remind even your best customers of your value proposition – at every opportunity.

Multinationals ensure their communications to clients and customers are consistent in tone, message and appearance. Often it helps to have someone dedicated to ensuring your communications are consistent, even if it’s not a full-time role.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.

4. Be consistent with your content

You’ve probably experienced this for yourself; a company’s website is so different or dated compared to their magazine ads, or offices, that you have to double check to make sure it’s the same company. This sends an inconsistent message.

Even small differences in colours, fonts and layouts can cause a potential customer to mentally ‘trip up’, causing doubt and often meaning they just leave your website without converting – not good.

Even if you’re uncomfortable creating content yourself, outsource it. This doesn’t mean you have to hire an expensive agency, there are plenty of good writers and artists out there who will be happy to help and are surprisingly affordable.

5. Design your own stuff as you would for your client

You already know that you need good design to make your message stand out. You do it for your clients everyday. The only thing is that you spend forever on your own and you can’t get it perfect enought – am I right? Time to let it go. Design your own stuff. Make sure the message stands out and just get it done.

What do you think of when I say Ikea? Blue and yellow? What about Google? Or Comcast? These companies are more than just a logo – they’ve integrated their colours, their logos, across the design of all their assets, and subsidiaries in the case of Comcast. You know this but as a quick reminder for your own business, branding that runs all the way through like this helps to make your messaging sing, and your company memorable.

6. Get clear on your messaging

This is often people’s biggest mistake when it comes to branding. They go from idea to shipping, skipping the steps in between and staking the odds against success.

Ideas are great, but until you determine what it is your company is about, where it aims to be, what your message is and how it’s delivered, what your visual identity is, and finally which channels are appropriate, you’re making it unnecessarily hard for yourself.

Think about it – how can you make sure you deliver the right value proposition to the right potential customer, at the right time, without these? That’s what good branding is ultimately about. Aligning your company to attract the kind of prospects and clients you want to work with.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.


Larger businesses may not be as nimble as smaller enterprises, but they will perform these steps tirelessly before launching any new product or brand. The size of their markets and scope of endeavours mean that risk of failure is too great – potentially millions.

This doesn’t mean multinationals are always right (I can think of quite a few failed products from major brands – anyone got Google Glasses? New Coke?). But there is a great deal you can learn from the way they align their brands or products with their customer base.




How to stop wasting time on prospects that never buy

Being a freelance creative is hard enough. You’re strapped for time. Income isn’t exactly stable. The last thing you need to do is waste your time.

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

One of the most frustrating things you experience as a freelancer is all the time you waste writing unanswered emails, sending ignored proposals and taking pointless driving trips to see clients that you never hear back from.

Most freelancers I work with tell me they experience similar frustrations.

The first thing I have to do is tell you that ultimately, some of your potential clients will fall through. It’s just life.

Things get in the way. Life takes unexpected U-turns. You just have to accept it.

But when people first join the Business Accelerator, they tell me they are spending way too much time trying just trying to keep their business afloat.

And so many of them are making the same mistakes, so I thought I’d share with you what I tell them:

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

Why your prospects don’t convert

Ok – as I said there are a million reasons why your prospect might not become a client.

But most of the time you’re wasting your time on someone who was never going to convert in the first place.

“What?” I hear you cry, “But they approached me!”

aI’m afraid it’s true. Often people are just shopping for a price, or they changed their mind, or life got on the way, or the project got put on hold.

The fact is that you can’t work with everyone. In fact, you SHOULDN’T work with everyone. You shouldn’t want to.

It’s like dating, some clients are just not going to be your ‘type’.

Finding your ‘type’: Why a target audience will help you grow

I’m going to keep with the dating analogy because it works well here.

Most people will have a ‘type’ of person they like to date. It may be physical appearance or mental traits; whatever it is – they’re looking for it in a partner. Even if they don’t think it.

You need to have a type of business, a type of client that you know you can work with, and that are likely to want (and be able) to work with you.

Particularly now, when there is so much choice and information available online, it’s SO important not to waste your time trying to please everyone. It just doesn’t work. Even the largest, most successful companies on the planet can’t do it. On top of that, Quite often when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one.

Have you ever walked into a Pizza restaurant that also serves burgers, chicken, curries, and spring rolls? The menu takes 15 minutes to read. And you just know that it’s not going to be as authentic or as good quality as it would be in a family restaurant who have been serving the same dishes for generations.

What makes you think you can appeal to everyone? Why would you want to? Even though most freelancers I work with can tell me the types of client they hate working with, they rarely act upon their experiences.

If you can’t tell me what your ideal client looks like in under 10 words, you don’t know who they are. But that’s OK because this post will help you to figure out what they look like.

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

How to create your ideal client personas

There’s a group of people that you already know like you and want to do business with you. They’re going to be your key ally here in working out who your ideal client looks like. Who are they? Your existing clients.

1.  Survey/Interview existing clients

Without this survey, the whole thing will fail. Your buyer personas won’t be as useful if you try to do them all by yourself.

First of all, you need to reach out to your existing clients, past and present, to find out who your clients are and what they want from you, in a deep way.

Send them a quick email asking to fill out a micro-survey.

All the ‘survey’ needs to be is: ‘What is your single greatest business challenge’, and ‘Why did you choose to do business with me?’.

You can use Google Forms or Survey Monkey for the survey but an email works too.

The other part of this ‘survey’ you’re going to do yourself.

Use our Target Audience Worksheet to help you think through your clients and their similarities.

This will help you to group your clients into ‘types’ based on more than just their survey answers.

2. Use their answers to build your profiles

Ideally, the answers to their questions (and your own target audience worksheet) are going to give you a lot of really rich data about who your customer is, and what they like about your business.

You’re probably going to get quite a bit of ‘fluff’ as well but that’s ok.

Put your clients’ answers into a spreadsheet and you’ll start to see some similarities in the language people use when talking about their business and their challenges. This is exactly what you’re looking for.

You’ll likely notice is a ‘pattern of problems’ that people have relating to your service and there may be a few of these. This is great.

You want to try and put your customers into ‘groups’ or ‘buckets’, so try to find the similarities between them. To help you do this you may find it useful to add surrounding data you have on your clients from the Target Audience Worksheet.

Create maybe three or four of these groups of issues, the kinds of customers that experienced them and their corresponding solutions (or anything the client said about them in their response).

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

3. Filter your prospects with a survey

Once you’ve put together your customer surveys and merged it with the answers on your Target Audience Worksheet, you should have three or four groups of similar people and their issues. These are your ‘target clients’ or ‘ideal client personas’.

But simply having a client persona isn’t going to help you stop wasting time with non-ideal clients. You need to act on them.

There are various ways of using your personas, all of which will help grow your business, but the one we’re focusing on today is the filter survey.

This is simply getting all your new prospects to answer a few key questions, which will enable you to sort them into groups.

Each of your groups should have one main ‘headline’ problem – this would be an ideal question to instantly filter your prospects.

This could be a simple drop-down or checkbox with options chosen from the actual words people have said back to you.

For example, you might ask:

What is your biggest challenge as a business:
1) Finding new customers
2) Delivering assets on time/to budget
3) Developing new products/services
4) Other: (leave space for them to write).

The answers you get should help you to sort your clients into groups, so you know what language to use and what solutions they are likely to want.

Usually, you’ll need more than one question to accurately sort your prospects but you can continue to ask ‘filtering’ questions as you get to know them.
Don’t be afraid to say no

One of the hardest parts about using a target audience or buyer persona is saying ‘no’ when the prospect is not a good fit. But you must stick to your guns. I talked about this on my September Webinar (click here to watch it).

You don’t have to be mean about it and you’ll find people often appreciate your honesty.

When you get a prospect that doesn’t fit in your persona, be as polite and helpful as possible but make sure they understand that you are not the right person to help them out. Instead, point them in the direction of someone who might be able to help them out. Then move on.

Not only will you find yourself wasting less time chasing clients that never buy, but if you’ve done your personas properly, you’ll also find those clients coming back to work with you again and again.

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

Let me know in the comments below if you have any techniques or questions you use to find your perfect clients – I’d love to hear them




Not Getting the New Business You Want? Take a Closer Look at Your Target Audience.

Grab the target audience worksheet 

As a creative professional, you know the impact of branding, market differentiation, and design, on your clients’ business. But what about your own business? Have you established your own brand positioning? Do you really recognize and understand your own target audience?

When you try to work on your own branding, marketing, messaging, or differentiation, do you get confused and overwhelmed? Do you find it so challenging to achieve consensus with the key players in your firm that your business stagnates? Establishing brand positioning is incredibly difficult when you are your own client and almost impossible when you don’t clearly understand your audience. Grab the target audience worksheet here.

Step away from your comfort zone

It’s tempting to position yourself as a ‘Jack of all trades’ ready to take on any challenge and help every client succeed, but being all things to all people is tough in today’s very crowded marketplace. It’s a bold – and sometimes frightening – step to pinpoint a target audience and go after it, but it may be just what your firm needs to succeed. Most business I work with are reluctant to choose a specific audience, fearing they will lose out on business opportunities from other sectors. But once they begin to understand their audience more deeply, they soon begin to reap the rewards of specialization.

Understand your best clients

You may find a target audience that is a very clear fit with your firm, right under your nose. I have one client who did 80% of their work with boutique hotels, yet continued to take on whatever work was going, spending time and money trying to be all things to all people. Once they decided to focus their attention and new business efforts exclusively on the boutique hotel sector, their new message drew new clients to them, and the time they spent with one client was directly transferable to others.

If a specific market sector does not seem to be a good fit with your firm, think about the client types you work with successfully. For example, you may find that you connect well with CEOs or marketing directors and are more successful when you tailor your message specifically to these roles.

Start making a list

Want a clue about who you might want to target? Write a description of your top 5 clients. What do they have in common? How much of your annual revenue did they generate? Are they easy to work with? Are they all in the same kind of business? Does the work you do for them build your reputation or increase your expertise in a specific industry? Do they have the same position within a company or the same way of working with you? As you focus your attention on these top 5 clients, you may find that they have more in common than you thought – and that their similarities help you differentiate your business and develop a successful target market

Talk – and listen.

Once you know who you’re speaking to, stakeholder interviews can help you learn more about the messages that will resonate with them. Using the boutique hotel firm as an example, stakeholder interviews with marketing directors at several boutique hotels showed that “keeping rooms filled” was a top concern for all of them. Knowing this, we were able to design and implement marketing campaigns focused specifically on filling rooms. Within 4 months of inbound marketing, my client started getting calls from prospects who said: “You understand our business and we want to talk to you about a project”. Does it get any better than that?

Want new business? Start now

New business doesn’t usually ‘just happen’, it takes time, planning, and thoughtful analysis to stand out from the crowd, understand who you and your best clients are, and attract the new clients you’re after. The first step? Start now and take a good hard look at your business, your clients, and the kind of people you want to work with.  For more clarity, grab the target audience worksheet here.