An investment guide is a dual-purpose document that every designer should have on hand to send to potential clients. When you receive an inquiry, you need to respond in a way that converts good prospects to clients and weeds out the rest. As an introduction to you and your brand, it should be professional, thorough, and tailored to your own polished process. While providing this information upfront is a benefit to hopeful clients, it is also a time-saving measure for you and your staff so that your valuable time is spent designing instead of fielding questions via email.
If you need to create an investment guide or update an existing one, this post is for you. Today, we are outlining what to include and why (and bonus: the easiest way to put one together).
When considering the contents of a well-constructed investment guide, it’s important to think about what information is available to potential clients already. It’s reasonable to assume that if someone is inquiring about your services that they’ve already done their part by reading through your website. Your investment guide should provide value by building on this information and including things that you don’t want to be published on your site.
It’s helpful to draft it—and also present it—in sections, like an elaborate elevator pitch. Here is a general outline:
We recommend beginning with a message straight to the reader from you. This helps the document feel more personal and gives them an idea of what to expect throughout. Explain the purpose of the guide in your own words. As always, keep your brand messaging top of mind as you write. It should inform your wording and how casual or formal you choose to be.
List your personal email at the bottom of the letter if you feel comfortable. This gives prospects the sense that this document is not meant to replace direct communication, but to be a resource for them as they consider hiring you.
If you find that your investment guide is quite lengthy when you’re done (especially if you offer a number of different services), consider adding a table of contents before or after your letter for the client’s convenience.
This section is optional, but is great for brand awareness and adding some personality to a document that can be heavy with practical information. You can execute this section in the form of a short bio, a listing of team members, a short manifesto, or even a branded mood board—whatever makes the most sense for your business.
Sit down and write out each step from start to finish, then go back and polish the wording. It’s important for clients to know what to expect in terms of first steps, general timeline, and how they should expect to be involved. This section should be highly informative and several pages. Be certain that you write this as true to your existing processes as possible so that the client can use it as a reference point in the future instead of constantly having to be briefed on what’s next.
This section is incredibly important, especially if your rates aren’t listed on your site. This is the information that most clients will be looking for. Including your pricing will filter out candidates that are looking for less expensive services. Spell out what’s included in each package and be sure to include a separate pricing sheet for any services you provide a la carte.
Outline how your client will pay for your services and any relevant policies concerning non-payment, late payments, and the like. If there is a deposit required, this is where you’ll need to mention that.
Remember, this document is a matter of efficiency for you. If you can think of questions that a potential client might ask that you haven’t already answered, answer it here. If nothing comes to mind, feel free to leave this section out. A few questions to consider: When is your next availability (if you aren’t currently accepting new clients)? Are you willing to give custom quotes? What will be required of the client in the way of collaboration?
This section might seem like overkill, but we recommend outlining exactly how you intend to communicate with your clients. Setting up these boundaries on the front end keeps you from being tied to your phone during prime working hours and gives them an outlet to discuss the project and any concerns with you at the appropriate time. Let them know when communication will take place as well as how (via phone, in person, email, etc).
Add in a thank you note to end on a personal note. Even if the prospective client does not book with you, you want them to know that you value their time and interest. They might circle back in the future.
We use Canva and recommend it for designing this brand document. Canva makes it so easy for anyone on your team to access or edit the guide (without any formal design knowledge!) and send to clients as a PDF. Use your existing branding as your guide as you choose colors, fonts, and images to utilize throughout.
If you don’t have an investment guide in place, it should be a top priority. It’s the best way to showcase your time-tested process and to eliminate the constant deluge of email and phone inquiries. It’s a win-win for both you and your potential clients to have an informative and well-designed document on hand.
For more tips for elevating your interior design or lifestyle brand, check out these posts:
IDCO Studio is a full-service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help brands built around beautiful living elevate their digital presence to represent the physical spaces they design. Our recently launched limited-release website templates are the perfect way for interior designers to get a luxury website on a budget. These templates allow designers to maintain control of their content. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.
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