Image credit goes to Yanc
Recently, I had a chance to listen to Seth Johnson (@sethrrr) speak at AIGA Indianapolis. Seth’s talk was very informational and thought inspiring nonetheless, but one phrase stuck out to me greatly during his Q & A portion. He said something like, “Never use We when it’s only Me.”
Let me lay down some credibility primer first. Seth is the president of the Minnesota chapter of AIGA | the professional association for design, an advisory board member of Art Buddies, and a founding member of FEAST MPLS. He has worked with clients like Weight Watchers and General Mills. Be sure to go see him speak if you get the chance.
Never use “We” when it’s only “Me.”
Pretending to be a design firm
Don’t do this! Don’t pretend to be a group of people when you are not. A big mistake the new freelancers make is acting like a big shot company. At some point you are going to disappoint your clients. A few scenarios generated in my head quickly…
What happens when you show up to a meeting alone?
Potential Client: Where’s everyone else?
Designer: Ummm… my partner is busy?
Potential Client: We are looking for a team on this project that is fully in-tune. It doesn’t look like you have that.
This scenario is fairly obvious. Large budget clients in your local area will likely expect to meet up to discuss their project.
The client expects more from a team. (This may be an exaggeration but you get my drift.)
Client: We need to see something at this point. It’s been several days.
Designer: I’m sorry for the delay. You will get an update today.
Client (7pm): It’s getting late. We need to see something.
Designer (9pm): Here you go. Files attached.
Client: These aren’t what we are looking for. You didn’t spend any time on these. How can 2-3 people only have so little low quality work? I think we would like to pursue someone local for this project. I’m sorry.
I laughed to myself at first, but then I started thinking into it. This was a similar mistake that I was making with my current project, TheDesignerHost. Originally, my goal had been to launch my hosting business by myself, and expand down the road. Knowing it would also be hard to compete with large competition, I was adding fluff to my copywriting to try and fit in among the other hosting monster companies.
Maybe I’m not a monster?
TheDesignerHost was pretending to be something that it is not. It’s impossible to provide 24/7 customer service with a one person staff. The same goes for a design business. Why would I want to advertise such a bogus promise? If you advertise it, they will expect it. The majority of my hosting customers are referred directly from my freelance design business. They signed up with their web designer for a reason. My clients love personal communication and trust when it comes to their web service.
I’ve removed all of my references to a group staff and my business relationships have flourished. My clients take my emails more personally. They’ve been understanding when there are issues, and respect the fact that I am merely an individual trying to provide quality, personal service as quickly as humanly possible.
Thank you Seth Johnson for keeping my business in check! You can follow him on Twitter.
Have you had a similar experience with this problem? Please share!