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Raise your hand if this sounds familiar:
Attracting clients is difficult.
Managing clients is difficult.
Charging premium prices is difficult.
Great news: none of those things has to be difficult!
Join me in today’s episode with the incredible Tiffany Tolliver who has attracting consistent clients, managing them, and charging premium prices on lock-down. You don’t want to miss this episode. Tune in now!
Erin Flynn: Thank you so much for joining me today, Tiffany. I am so excited to talk to you. So thank you for being here.
Tiffany Tolliver: Absolutely. I’m excited, too
Erin Flynn: All right. I think the first thing that we should address is why are consistent clients so difficult for web designers and other creative business owners to get?
Tiffany Tolliver: Yeah, I think the problem is rooted in not having a holistic approach to the way that you’re marketing your business. I was that person who was like, all right, I need to get two, three clients a month, and I need to make this amount of money, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to ramp up and talk about my stuff, and then when I get the clients, I go and work. But what that does is it creates inconsistency in the way that people are hearing about your business because we don’t know… I get a few new followers every day, and so we don’t know when our customers are coming to us. We don’t know when someone is just following you or following you for a couple of months or years.
Tiffany Tolliver: And so it’s up to us as creative business owners to always be talking about our services as if there are new people coming into whatever funnel that we’re attracting them into, Instagram, our email marketing, whatever, treat it like it’s the first time that they’re ever hearing about us. And so I think that me personally, and the people that I coach, they’ve been able to see consistent sales because we just never stop, quite frankly. It’s not a run yourself ragged type of thing, but it’s the identification that we are service-based brands. So we are operating to be of service to someone else. So that means that has to reflect in how I talk about myself and how frequently I promote my business.
Erin Flynn: Yeah, totally. I think that we get this mindset, like you said, of I’m promoting now, and then it’s radio silence for three months or six months. Then we’re like, oh, now I feel weird because I have to sell. It’s something we fall out of practice as opposed to talking about it constantly, which we should be because we shouldn’t be constantly trying to pull in those new clients. So I think that’s 100% spot on in my experience too, is when you are not talking about it, people are just of course not going to hire you. They don’t magically know that you’re accepting clients or will take that step to book you.
Tiffany Tolliver: And I think it’s a domino effect. So when you’re promoting, you get clients and then you’re doing the work. But when you’re actually doing the work, if you can’t market and do the work, there’s an internal process problem. That there needs to be some tweaking in the way that you work or how many days you work or how many hours that you work, so that you’re always in a consistent, not constant rather, position to feel whole enough to actually go about promoting your business. Does that make sense?
Erin Flynn: Yeah. That makes total sense. So would you kind of… way that you would balance client work and marketing? Do you have any magical tips around that because I think that is so difficult?
Tiffany Tolliver: So for me, this isn’t a cookie-cutter method at all. It’s not popular either, so I don’t plan out my content because it doesn’t fit my life. And so the quick and dirty answer to that is we have to pay attention to how our specific businesses are ran. I think there are some underlining, foundational principles that I can talk about. But before that, I think that we’re not paying attention as creative business owners, enough attention rather, to how our business performs. We’re so inundated with helping other people and making sure that they are performing at their highest level that we fail to internally look inside of our businesses, look at the analytics, look at how we’re actually performing and make assessments and adjustments that will allow us to be able to have the perfect solution for our brands.
Tiffany Tolliver: But for me, what that looks like after I’ve gone through analysis and assessment, I base things off of phases in my business. So when I’m working with a client… And this is for a singular offer. I know that there’s some designers and creatives out there who are probably listening, have multiple streams of income, and this will just apply to one of them. So what I do is I focus on phases in my business for clients as well as their launch dates.
Tiffany Tolliver: I have found that for my clients to have the most time to give me what they need to give me, I need to finish things in a certain timeframe when they become a client. And so what that allows me to do is perform the way that… I perform well under pressure, so that was a little bit of the analytics that I found out about myself. So because I want to operate in my strengths and optimize the time that my clients have to actually bring forth what I need to build their brands. I know that in phase one, I need to get this done in a certain time. In phase two, I need to get this on a certain time. So I guess the longer answer to your question was I’m suggesting that creatives look internally and find out what is going to be the best for their schedules and their lives, as well as still keeping their clients top of mind.
Erin Flynn: I love that. That is so good. And I think we could talk about that all day long, but there are a few key points that I want to hit because I know that you talk a lot about consistent clients and pricing. And one of the things that I have found a lot of my audience has resistance to is niching. So have you found niching helps consistent sales? Or do you find that it hurts the business, which I think is what everybody is scared of? If they niche too small, no one’s going to hire them.
Tiffany Tolliver: Yeah. I understand the fear behind it because it’s just like, oh my gosh, but I want to be known as a graphic designer. I do all the things. And I think two very clear examples stand out for me. One, I think of myself as a creative director because I do more than just graphic and web design. I’m a strategist. I’m a coach. I help with photo shoots and all kinds of stuff with my clients, and they just weren’t getting it. And so my coach at the time asked me to do ideal client interviews, getting on the phone with women who you would just organically work with anyway and ask them a series of questions.
Tiffany Tolliver: And one of the questions was, do you resonate more with creative director or web designer when you’re hiring someone to help you with your brand? And they said, “Tiffany, I have no idea what the heck a creative director does. And so then I don’t know what they can do for me.” So if it is not clear to your audience, what you can do for them, then there’s a problem. And I think niching solves that problem because it’s not about us. Our clients are the hero. They wake up with this hero complex every single day, and they wake up with problems that need solutions in their business.
Tiffany Tolliver: So when we niche down from say, I’m a graphic and web designer for women entrepreneurs, that’s a niche. But when you say… And this is what I say when I’m introducing myself, that I am a rebrand and launch strategist who specializes in income-generating web design for service space brands. And even when I’m in front of an all-woman brand… or women audience, excuse me… I say that I service women-led service-based brands. So it’s just very clear. And the clarity leads to them saying, you know what, I really do need them. So the clarity for me leads to the coin, period, because they’re very, very clear, for lack of better words, on what you can do for them. Does that make sense? I hope it makes sense.
Erin Flynn: Yes, that makes so much sense. And I think it’s the clarity that is missing so often in whatever creative business we’re offering, because especially we tend to be multi-passionate. We tend to want to do a whole bunch of different things. And so we might say I’m a web designer for any type of female-led service-based business, which is somewhat of a niche. But at the same time, if we can say I work with women who are launching courses or something much more specific like you do, then people go, “Oh, that’s who I need because I can see where they are an expert. I can see where they are offering the solution to my problem. And I can see why this is worth investing in versus just a generic web designer who helps anybody and everybody and doesn’t really have any clarity around anything besides I make websites.” That doesn’t make you want to hand your money over.
Tiffany Tolliver: Exactly. Yeah. And I think also when people think about niching, people think it makes them small. But I like to say it makes you specific, just like you said. And specific services, specific offers, lead to specific results. There’s a promise that we are saying that we can deliver in our brands, and that promise should be led by specific offers based on your area of expertise. I think that we can think of it as being a big fish in a small pond, but being small yet specific in a niche allows for you to serve people better. Even if it’s a smaller amount because when I fix a specific solution well, one, I’m able to charge more money because it’s very, very detailed.
Tiffany Tolliver: I serve a specific person, a specific industry, and my promise is saying that I can deliver upon that. And so my testimonials are going to follow that, which allows me to operate in a higher price point. So if someone is afraid to niche down, think of it as you being able to increase your prices because you’re being seen as someone who can fit only this mold for a specific person. And try not to think about it as one person. That one avatar that you have represents thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people.
Erin Flynn: Yes. I love that. That’s been my experience too. We have similar businesses doing web design and stuff here, much more. I’m terrible at branding.
Tiffany Tolliver: Don’t say that.
Erin Flynn: You are brilliant at it. But having that niche and being able to say, okay, if you want to sell… In my case, I help female entrepreneurs who sell digital products and courses. And so, I can know the ins and outs of that. I can know what platforms and options they have available. I can know exactly what kinds of solutions would work best based on their needs. And that’s something that you cannot do if you’re just trying to help anybody and everybody who might possibly come your way. And when you can hone in on that messaging, you can charge those higher prices. You can charge five figures for a website, even if it’s not a super-complicated website, because what you’re still offering is that very specific solution that you are an expert in and you were offering that clarity around.
Erin Flynn: I think we’ve already covered why clarity is so important is because you become that expert. And when someone, even though it might be a smaller pool of people, it’s not a tiny pool of people, it’s still smaller, but you are able to stand out there as opposed to just being lost in this big, huge, gigantic world of whatever industry you’re in. And they can see you and say, “That is exactly what I need, here is my credit card.”
Tiffany Tolliver: Exactly. Yeah. Clarity decreases confusion, and when people are confused, they don’t buy.
Erin Flynn: No, they don’t. And we have to be the experts because if they were the experts, they would not need to hire us.
Tiffany Tolliver: Exactly. Exactly. Yes.
Erin Flynn: All right. So let’s take that a little bit deeper. I know you talk about solution-based selling, so what does that mean exactly?
Tiffany Tolliver: Solution-based selling is really about internally, the creative knowing what problem their offer is creating a solution for. And so, when I mentioned solution-based selling, it’s really the opposite. We’re really focusing on the pain points or problems that not having X, whether it be a amazing website, good branding, amazing copywriting, whatever, what pain is that causing someone right now? What are they not able to attain because they don’t have your solution, the solution to their problem in their life and business? So when it relates to solution-based selling, when I teach it, it’s the opposite. It’s thinking with the end in mind. I don’t know how many people have read… I think it’s Stephen Covey’s, Successful Habits of Highly Effective People, I believe it’s called. But one of the philosophies or principles is to think what the end in mind.
Tiffany Tolliver: So when creative operating and solution-based selling, it’s starting at the beginning, starting with the client’s problem, and then positioning their brand and their offers to only sell what is going to fix the solution. You alluded to earlier that sometimes when you’re charging those high rates, maybe high four or five-figure rates, people feel they have to add all of this stuff in there. The web design has to be 3D moving out from the screen or something like that. But I’ve seen some of the highest paid web designs, it’ll be the simplest. But the thing about it is it’s solved a problem. It created a solution and alleviated a pain point that their business was facing for their specific target audience.
Erin Flynn: I love that. So I do want to mention for anybody listening who’s not a web designer, Tiffany and I, this is what we do. So of course, we get a little bit geeky.
Erin Flynn: … but it does work. Whatever service you’re offering, you can look for that solution and you can offer it. And when you can solve your client’s problems, that’s when you can sell much more easily, as well as charge those higher prices. So this is so good. I would love to know a little bit about your processes. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you do that?
Tiffany Tolliver: So after looking inwardly because… And a lot of my process, I should mention, come from extremely difficult clients. We all have them. We can not avoid them. People are people. And I always say, that on the way to finding your people, you encounter those who are not. So it’s just a part of business, unfortunately, but those difficult clients immensely changed the way that my business operates right now. So I teach and I live out the philosophy that there should be a balance of automated process and human touch in your process. I am deathly a-scared… I’m deathly afraid… A-scared, sorry, don’t edit that out. I want people to hear that slip up.
Tiffany Tolliver: I am deathly afraid of sending an invoice automatically. That’s just me. I want to see, make sure that every line is perfect, the price is correct, the payment structure is correct. But there are some things that I do automate in my business. So I have email templates that are standard across the board. So when someone reaches out to me for a consultation, they are directed to my CRM, and they receive a series of automated template emails. But then also I have human touch templates that allow me to go into a library of sorts and pull out responses that I frequently give. So how much are your services? How do I work with you? And then when I’m onboarding a client, I have a library of templates that I plug and play into to make sure that they are all experiencing a streamlined process that I know gives them the human touch that they’re looking for because I charged high five figures now for my services.
Tiffany Tolliver: And I know that my clients need that. They need to feel that they’re not talking to a robot. They need to feel that their investment… I’m going to be wrong. I don’t care how much money I make swiping your car for $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, you know what I mean? It’s like, okay girl, what are we doing here? So I immediately want to make sure that they feel served and seen in their investment. And then I carry out the rest of my process on Trello, which is a big part of the way that I interact with clients because it allows me to deliver their entire outline of their projects. So they know right off the top what they’re getting into. They know that because this is something that is streamed across industries, but specifically I’ve heard it across the web design and graphic design business that designers go AWOL.
Tiffany Tolliver: They don’t respond quick enough. You don’t know where they are with your project. You know what I mean? I spent my money and they went ghost. So I want to make sure that my clients were investing in themselves, but also paying me for a service because we get that mixed up. They’re not investing in me, they’re investing in themselves. But they’re paying me. So with that interaction, I want to make sure that they feel the weight of that investment in everything that I deliver. And that’s really how I’ve shaped my process.
Erin Flynn: I love how you… And of course, I’m going have to have you back on the show for three other conversations. We’ll talk about processes. We’ll talk about all sorts of things. But I think having those processes, of course at any level, but especially at a higher level, you need to have them really solidly in place because clients who are investing thousands of dollars, they need to be treated very well. They need to know what to expect. They need to be taken care of. And, yes, the web design industry specifically has a horrible reputation of just disappearing on clients. It’s a real problem. And even sometimes when we are not disappearing, we are perceived to be because first of all, people have that idea that we’re going to. And two, we might be working on a project, but a lot of web designers, not really great at communication.
Erin Flynn: So having those processes in place, and I love like you said email templates and having everything ready to go, really prevents that from happening. It keeps your clients from getting antsy. It helps them understand what’s happening, and you don’t have to sit down and write every single email every single time. You just have to have a library, like you said, that you can pull out, which I think is so good for anyone especially who struggles with client communication. I think a lot of us, again it’s very prominent in the web design industry, but I think any creatives, sometimes we just get so caught up in what we’re doing that we forget. Oh yeah, I should probably tell my client that we’re working on their projects.
Tiffany Tolliver: Yeah, absolutely. And when I say we, these are things that I struggled with before and tend to struggle with periodically in my business is that sometimes I forget that I’m not just a creative. I’m the CEO of my business. So CEOs handle their businesses in specific ways that there has to be a business side to creativity at all times. And I think that contributes to consistently seeing clients because you’ve become a reputable business. And so if you are servicing clients well, you are increasing the effectiveness of the processes in your business. You are consistently getting client results and caring about what pains them. It just allows so much more space and opportunity for your brand to grow, for your price point to increase, and for your voice to be amplified in your expertise.
Erin Flynn: So good. All right. We are coming up on time, and we did our touch-
Tiffany Tolliver: It was so quick.
Erin Flynn: … I know it’s so fast. I believe that we hit all of the major points, and I’m just going to have to have you back again so we can do a deeper dive into some of these topics because this was so good. But I know that your Instagram is full of incredible information. And I know your website is gorgeous. Everybody should-
Tiffany Tolliver: Well, thank you.
Erin Flynn: … go check it out-
Tiffany Tolliver: Thank you.
Erin Flynn: … But where can we find and follow you online? What are the best places to connect with you?
Tiffany Tolliver: The best place for me, it’s Instagram, always on there @TheEmmaRoseAgency. And then you can always check out my website, TheEmmaRoseAgency.com. Those are the two main places where I hang out.
Erin Flynn: Awesome. I will make sure those links are in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us today. This has been a blast. And like I said, you’re going to have to be repeat guest because there are so many great things I want to dive deeper with you on.
Tiffany Tolliver: Oh, absolutely. I’ll look forward to it.
Erin Flynn: All right, everybody. Thank you for tuning in.