clear first clever second

Be clear first and clever second

Today I was in cleaning mode. As I got to the washing machine I reached down to grab what should have been detergent, but instead found something that threw me off track. It lived in the detergent’s spot, it looked like detergent, but nowhere did it say detergent. Not even a hint. I ummed and ahhed for a minute or two, then threw all caution to the wind and said what the hell.

So why would a product do it’s best to confuse me?

You’re might think such confusion could be avoided if I weren’t such an idiot, and to that I say, “Balls”. This kind of miscommunication happens online every day, and more often than not we’re the ones responsible for it.

A product exists to serve a purpose. A service exists to serve a purpose. If the purpose of that product or service is unclear, then it’s not much good to anyone. A bit of clarity would have saved me a few minutes of uncertainty.

A lack of clarity in your portfolio will cause uncertainty too

Do you have a portfolio tagline similar any of the following?

“I design stuff for the web”
“I design for the web and mobile. I’m also a coffee freak”
“I like making nice things on the web”

If any of them ring a bell, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re confusing people, or at the least creating uncertainty. And here’s why…

  • You aren’t telling potential clients what you do
    Saying you design for the web is like saying you’re a painter. But do you paint houses, murals, graffiti, cubist landscapes, hyper-realistic train sets? Web design is such a broad term that it can mean any number of things. If a client isn’t sure whether you can help, then they may just bolt. And if they don’t…
  • You might attract the wrong kind of client.
    You might not even realise someone is the wrong type of client until you’ve wasted precious time (where’s your tire kicker process?). But why let it get that far? Speak plainly and tell the world what you do, and for whom.
  • Potential clients think you can solve their problem.
    This goes back to my first point. If you don’t state otherwise, your potential client will assume “web design” covers all manner of sins.

Prequalifying your clients will save you precious time

Prequalifying your clients might sound a bit fancy, but it just means getting the right people through the door.

An example of a solid prequalifying tagline could be:

“I design web apps for seeded startups in the south of England”

This might seem like an exaggeration, but how many people will be contacting you for Android app design now?

It’s not clever to be clever, unless you’re so clever that people get it straight off the bat. That’s an art, and we’re not artists.

The more specific your marketing, the more qualified your clients will be. The more qualified your clients, the better your work will be (you’ll be doing what you do best). Your newfound prequalified clients will be your eternal champions.

Clearly communicating your skills to the right people will kick your sales funnel off in the right direction. See if today you can make your copy less clever, and instead more explicit.

“Be clear first and clever second. If you have to throw one of those out, throw out clever.” – Jason Fried

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photo credit: rchappo2002 via photopin cc

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