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How to successfully onboard a design client

Customer onboarding is like the second date of business relationships – you’ve impressed them on the first date, now it’s time to get a bit more serious! It requires a little persuasive charm, a lot of honest communication, and will be a critical part of sealing the deal with your potential client.    

What’s client onboarding?

Client onboarding is the nitty gritty of turning a potential client into a paying one. You want them to sign on the dotted line for what will hopefully be a long-lasting creative collaboration. But first, you’ll need to address their concerns  and make sure they fully understand your design services and how you operate.

Think of it like a journey from your first ‘hello’ to the day you start working on their project. Onboarding is your chance to discuss with the new client:

  • What kind of service you’ll provide
  • What their role is in the partnership
  • How you’ll keep in touch with each other
  • When and how you’ll invoice
  • And of course, all the juicy details about how it’ll all come together

Why is client onboarding important?

Let’s look at this from two angles.

From the client’s point of view:

It can be nerve-wracking to choose a new supplier, who is, let’s face it, a relative stranger. And clients may not know  how partnering with a design agency works. But proper onboarding is like a sneak peek into the magical world of design. Show them the ropes and help them understand what it’s like to work with you, and they’ll feel a lot more confident about their decision.

From the supplier’s point of view:

Onboarding is not just a chance to get to know your clients (although that’s a big part of it). It’s also an opportunity to wrap your heads around the design project and get a feel for their communication style too. At this stage you can also share your ‘plan of attack’ with the client, letting them know what they can expect of you and vice versa.

Filter out ‘bad’ clients

There will be some clients that just   And let’s be honest, some that would just be a nightmare to deal with! The onboarding process is a great way to weed out these ‘bad’ clients before either of you makes a commitment. And it’s a two-way street; a chance for both parties to suss each other out and decide if you want to work together.  

Show them what you’re made of!

Finally, the onboarding process is a great opportunity to show off your skills and prove that you’re the design gurus they’ve been searching for. By doing this you’re putting their minds at ease, sealing the deal, and getting the relationship off to a great start.


What happens without a good onboarding process?

Without a top-notch onboarding process, you’re likely to either deluge a potential client with info overload or leave them feeling a bit, well…meh. It’s all about serving up just the right amount of detail to reassure them that you’re the bee’s knees, but without launching an all-out info blitz.

Remember the real nitty-gritty of onboarding – it’s about sharing what a potential client needs to know, and importantly, lending an ear to their questions and worries. The end goal is to make the journey of hiring a designer as smooth as a very smooth thing.

A dodgy onboarding process will leave the client with a sour taste, and the chances of them bringing your design agency on board will be slim. But, do it well, and they’ll be convinced there’s no one else they’d rather tango with than you!

If you’re racking up enquiries from potential clients faster than a magpie collects shiny things, but very few are converting into paying clients, then it’s definitely time for a good ol’ rethink.

Client onboarding gives you direction

Kicking off a fresh creative project with a client is always a bit like opening a box of fireworks. Ideas are buzzing around like sparklers, and everyone’s buzzing about the potential. But, without a compass, you’ll soon find yourselves wandering aimlessly in the creative wilderness.

Enter stage left: Bangin’ client onboarding. With a well-mapped plan and timetable for the project, you can delegate roles, share out responsibilities, and set expectations for all those involved. This framework makes the whole shindig a lot smoother, sidestepping any unexpected curveballs or crossed wires.

Once you’ve cracked the art of onboarding clients, it’ll be as breezy as a Sunday afternoon stroll. You’ll be strutting with confidence, comfy as a well-worn pair of trainers in your process, and clients will be well impressed with your orderly and top-notch approach.

Consider a Welcome Pack

How about rolling out the red carpet with a top-notch Welcome Pack? This is your golden chance to set the vibe for your design agency and give clients a crystal-clear picture of what they’re in for when they team up with you.

A Welcome Pack doesn’t just dish out the need-to-knows about your services, but it also helps sift out clients who might not quite fit the bill. Think of it as a trusty satnav, guiding both you and your client down the road to a triumphant project finish line.

Your Welcome Pack won’t be spilling the beans on all the individual  details (keep that tucked away for proposals and contracts), but it’ll cover the essentials like:

  • Your payment policies
  • Time frames
  • How you work
  • What you expect from your clients
  • How communication typically works

The results of good client onboarding

Strap in for the magic ride that good client onboarding can take you on. You’ll not only watch your potential clients turn into proud, paying customers, but you’ll see them:

  • Stick around for the long haul
  • Turn into loyal brand advocates
  • Snap up more of your products and services

The cherry on top? They’ll become your own little squad of brand cheerleaders, boosting your company’s growth through the timeless power of word-of-mouth. There’s no marketing tool that packs a punch quite like it!

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn’t easy, so pop us a message and we’ll see what we can do to help.

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