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Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business

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Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business
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Nov 16, 2020

Learn the power of psychological reactance.

Have you ever heard of the term Psychological Reactance?

According to Wikipedia, Psychological Reactance is unpleasant motivational arousal (reaction) to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioural freedoms. Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone is taking away their choices or limiting the range of alternatives.

This last part is what comes into play in today’s topic. When a person feels that someone is taking away their choices or limiting the range of alternatives, in other words, say they can’t have it, and they’ll want it even more.

Just look throughout history. People are constantly doing things they’re told they can’t or shouldn’t do. Books that are banned by school systems quickly become some of the most sought after books around. When a song is banned from television or the radio, it soon tops the charts. When the USA introduced prohibition in the 1920s banning the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages, what happened? More alcohol was produced and distributed than ever before.

When you tell someone they can’t have something; they want it even more. That’s Psychological Reactance.

So how does this apply to running a design business? Simple, tell a client they can’t have something or something isn’t for them, and they’ll want it even more.

What do I mean by this?

Let’s say a client is looking for a logo design, and they only have $500 to spend. Using the three-tier pricing method, a pricing strategy where you offer three different options to a client, each one consisting of a slightly better “package” at a slightly higher price, you may present something like this.

Option # 1: Design a logo for $500

Option # 2: Design a complete branding package including a logo, stationery and social media branding for $1000

Option # 3: Same as option #2 plus additional assets and a brand style guide for $1500

This pricing strategy gives the client options to choose from. It reduces the chance of them shopping around for other design prices. And it shows them the value of the different product tiers.

This pricing strategy is great for upselling to your clients, but it works even better when combined with psychological reactance.

Even though the client told you they have a $500 limit, you present options outside their budget. Show them what's available if only they had more to spend, for example.

Here’s a proposal I prepared for you showing various options I can provide.

Please look at options two and three. I know you can’t afford them according to the budget for this project, but at least they'll give you ideas for when you can afford it.

When you present your three pricing tiers, you can do so in a way that the client feels their choices are being taken away.

By telling a client they can’t afford something, you make those options more desirable. They'll feel like their choices are being taken away, and they'll look at those two options even closer.

I can’t tell you how many times clients told their maximum budget was X only to end up agreeing to one of the more expensive and more valuable options I presented them. Sometimes they chose options that are double or triple their original max budget. Somehow, the money is there.

This is not swindling or conning the client. You are simply presenting in a way that makes them feel like their choices are limited, which makes them want it more. People want the freedom to choose for themselves what they can and cannot do or have. A good salesperson knows how to take advantage of that.

Putting Psychological Reactance into practice.

The way it works is to use phrases such as.

“You probably can’t afford this...”

“You’ll probably refuse this idea...”

“This may not be for you...”

“You probably won’t agree to this...”

“You may not be the best person for this...”

Anything that tells the client they’re not a good fit for whatever you are offering.

Another great way to present something is to say. “Do you know someone who may be interested in... or, who may be suitable for...”

This last example subtly tells the client they are not suitable or not a good fit. You're not actually saying it, but it’s implied, and they may look more closely at what you are offering.

The best way to get new work from old clients is not to ask them if they have any work for you, but to ask them if they know anyone who may need your services.

Dear Jill,

I hope you're satisfied with the website I built for you. I know you don’t need anything else from me right now, but I would be grateful if you would give them my name and contact information if you know anyone who does.

By telling the client they don't need anything from you, you're subconsciously making them feel left out. And since nobody likes to feel left out, they may think of something else you can do for them.

This method not only makes clients more receptive to what you are offering, but it actually gives them an out by giving them the freedom to choose for themselves. If they truly cannot afford it or are not a good fit, no harm was done. The client can move along without feeling affronted.

However, if that’s not the case, if their budget is more flexible than they told you or they are more open than they led to believe, they may decide to hear you out. And in most cases, that seals the deal allowing you to make a bigger sale. Congratulations.

Do you use this method in your business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Resource of the week FontOfWeb.com

Ever want to know what fonts are being used on a website? Fontofweb.com to the rescue. Just enter the URL of the website in question, and Fonttoweb.com will present you with a nice list of all the web page's fonts and how they are being used. Everything from which ones are bolded or used in spans to what weight, line height and point size each header tag is using.

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