‘I slashed my client list in half – and I’m better off as a result’

Business-Essentials-slashing-your-client-listHolding on to unprofitable clients seems to be a favourite pastime of us small business owners. Perhaps it’s that we’re all too nice to say no, we don’t like to turn work away or we’re so grateful of the enquiry that we take the job, even if it doesn’t represent a good project for us. So many of our clients struggle to identify the work they want (and we’ve certainly been there too!), and very few have the guts to say no when presented with unprofitable work that I felt I had to share this success story with you.

One of my lovely clients popped in to say hi yesterday. She looked refreshed, well rested and really quite bubbly – which was lovely to see as she’s usually exhausted. By her own admission, she spends far too much time rushing around trying to please her clients to the detriment of her family life and is constantly tired from trying to please everyone. She happily told me that she’s slashed her client list in half, and has never felt better. By dropping the clients who weren’t earning her money, she’s been able to focus on providing a knock-out service to the clients who she loves working with, and who truly value her. Her client list is much smaller, but functions much better. She’s able to give clients the level of attention that she wants to be able to give, and as a result is able to charge realistically for the time she’s spending with them. Happier clients, happier (and more profitable) business owner.

Win-win.

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Business Essentials: How to ask for referrals (without cringing)

Business-Essentials-asking-for-referralsHands up if you win a decent chunk of work from referrals? Quite a few of you? Thought so. Keep your hand up if you have a solid strategy in place for requesting referrals. If your hand is still raised, then well done you – off to the top of the class. For those of you who sheepishly retracted, while wondering what a referral strategy might look like in the first place, listen up. This post’s for you.

Know who to approach for a referral

Chances are, there’ll be some clients who you enjoy working with more than others. There are those who are a joy to work with, who bring you exciting and challenging work and who behave impeccably (no late payments or other such nuisance behaviour from them…). The sort who you’d be overjoyed to fill your days working with. Those are the people to ask for referrals from – not the clients who you’d rather forget.

Pick your moment

The best point to ask for a referral is when you’re coming to the end of a project, while everyone is on a high from the work you’ve done together. I find that it’s most effective to ask for the referral as a project goes live, rather than days or weeks afterwards.

How will you ask?

Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with asking for a referral face to face. However, if you’re too shy to do that (what is it with us Brits?), email is your friend. And if even that feels uncomfortable, try writing yourself a template that you can whip out when needed. Something along the lines of ‘it’s been such a pleasure to work with you on xxxx. I do my best work with people just like you, and would love it if you could recommend me to your friends’. Easy!

Show your thanks

How you say thank you is up to you. A handwritten note and chocolates are rarely turned down, but a truly personalised gift goes a long way to say thank you.

Give referrals

What better way to show that you’re in the game of sharing contacts than giving out referrals yourself? It’s a fact that those who you send work to will want to return the favour, so spread the love and share those contacts!

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Proud to Present: Brand styling and a swanky new logo for Eat N Mess

Eat N Mess - brand board by Ditto Creative brand stylistsI’ve been so excited to share this project with you! Danielle Rumbelow of Eat N Mess was the first lucky person to grab one of our Spotlight slots, benefitting from having us style her brand at a reduced rate while providing extra support to get her message just right. That said, she arrived at our briefing session fizzing with energy, full of big ideas and plenty of vision so didn’t need a great deal of direction! Here’s the story of the Eat N Mess rebrand.

Danielle launched Eat N Mess two years ago, selling cakes, tray bakes and all sorts of delicious baked goodness at Farmers’ markets and foodie markets in London. She had gained a loyal following from people who adore her cakes, and make a special trip to buy their favourite treats from her stall at the trendy London markets. Her existing logo looks too home-made to get her to where she wants to go, and so Danielle approached Ditto ready to take the leap and create a more stylish, grown up and trendy brand design. The goal was to create an identity that conveys the fashionable, foodie vibe that will propel the business towards greater success.

Eat N Mess rustic crate by Ditto Creative Brand Stylists

The season personality

The Eat N Mess brand is rooted mainly in Autumn, with Summer influences. Autumn businesses are passionate, hardworking and honest. They are authentic, they are challengers and they care deeply about provenance. On the other hand, summer personalities are sleek, graceful and chic. Autumn lends a wholesome, nostalgic and trendy mood while summer influences will ensure your brand feels sophisticated and desirable. The two seasons work beautifully together; the chunky fonts associated with Autumn look amazing in a faded, vintage-themed colour palette, with hand-rendered typography added for a quirky feel.

The colour palette

The colour palette is a quirky blend of Autumn and Summer shades. A sunny yellow provides a happy, positive and feel-good mood; dusty rose provide a more laid back and gentle feel, deep orange creates an unexpected pop of colour, a faded cornflower blue is relaxed and muted, and the mint green keeps everything feeling fresh. The addition of charcoal grey as a base colour grounds the palette and provides the perfect shade to balance the brighter shades elsewhere in your palette. We’ve been careful to use grown-up shades rather than ice-cream pastels, which would undermine the message and feel too naïve.

Eat N Mess loyalty card design by Ditto Creative Brand Stylists

The brand board

The overall mood of this board is quirky and trendy. Strong slab san-serifs are contrasted with the expressive, distinctive and flowing lines of the hand lettered script logo created by Dan; clean lines are softened with hand rendered illustrations crafted by Derek to provide character, and the styling creates a welcoming and homely feel. I just love how these elements combine to create an identity with real substance and heart – it just feels so warm and nostalgic.

Eat N Mess outdoor sign by Ditto Creative Brand Stylists

Eat N Mess mugs by Ditto Creative brand stylists

Eat N Mess gold foil logo by Ditto Creative Brand Stylists

PS….

Danielle has just launched her Kickstarter campaign to help fund her new shop in Sevenoaks. Take a look at her campaign and back her here!

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