February 16, 2017

If you don’t ask, you won’t know

Filed under: Client Communication — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 12:21 pm

If you don’t ask, you won’t know

Recently, my 5 year-old was dressing in short-sleeve shirts, even though it was cold outside. Day after day, this kept happening until I finally asked: “Why don’t you put on a long-sleeve shirt?” And he responded: “Because I can’t reach them in my closet.” Problem solved, all because I asked.

When is the last time you asked your clients what’s on their mind? The answers may be simple but powerful. By taking the time to reach out, it shows that you care about what they think. Plus, hearing their thoughts will offer insight into how to make your projects—and working relationship—better.

What should I ask?

I recommend starting with a few simple questions like:

  • What are you struggling with right now?
  • How can I help you?
  • How can we improve our working relationship?
  • What else can I help you with?

Once you start the conversation, more questions (and answers) will inevitably come to the surface. It’s a good idea to keep these notes with your client project files for future reference.

5 ways to ask your clients questions:

  1. Call them (have a few questions ready)
  2. Invite them for coffee
  3. Email a few questions
  4. Send a client survey (I like SurveyMonkey or Typeform).
  5. Check past emails for questions they have asked

I recommend starting a file to keep track of the questions clients often ask of you for easy reference (I use Evernote).

Need some help brainstorming questions to ask your clients? Let’s chat!








February 10, 2017

10-Minute Marketing: Survey your clients

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

10-Minute Marketing: Survey your clients

How often do you ask your clients or supporters questions? I know how easy it is to get caught up in projects, but if you stop to ask questions it can offer insight into how you can enhance your projects and relationships.

Here are a few questions you can ask your clients:

  • What do you need?
  • What are you struggling with right now?
  • How can I help?
  • How can we improve our working relationship?
  • How else I can help you?

To get your answers, you can simply call or email them, or send out a short survey (I recommend SurveyMonkey or Typeform). I also like to keep a running list of client inquires or pain points in Evernote so that I can refer to it them often.

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Prepare a client survey or simple email with a few questions.

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.



April 4, 2016

A to Z of Branding: C is for client

Filed under: Branding — Tags: , — lidia @ 4:27 pm

A to Z of Branding: C is for client

C is for client

Branding is not based on what you think about your organization, but rather what your client thinks about it—from the moment they discover you through the experience of working with you.

This is why a “client first” approach to branding must be incorporated into all aspects of your marketing and outreach (i.e. logo/identity, marketing materials, website, social media, PR, client outreach and office/environment interaction).

In the words of Al Ries, a prominent author on branding: “The primary objective of a branding program is always the mind of the prospect.”

ACTIVITY: Take a look at your current marketing materials and ask yourself: am I speaking to my client, their unique problems or passions?

Follow along with the A to Z of Branding daily blog series here or on twitter at #AtoZBranding

July 31, 2015

10-Minute Marketing: write a LinkedIn recommendation

10-minute marketing: write a linkedin recommendationMarketing is a give and take, you always want to balance your “taking” (i.e. selling or promoting your organization) with some “giving.”

A great way to give is to leave recommendations on LinkedIn.

I like to leave LinkedIn recommendations for colleagues and vendors that I’ve worked with—and especially for clients who I love working with.

An unsolicited LinkedIn recommendation will most certainly make the person’s day—and you never know, it might just prompt them to reach out to you with a new project or collaboration.

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Write a LinkedIn recommendation for a colleague (or two, depending on how fast you are)

Are you on LinkedIn? Connect with me here.

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

April 8, 2015

8 ways to show clients (and customers) you care

Filed under: Client Communication — Tags: , , — lidia @ 1:00 pm

8 ways to show clients you care

  1. Do what you say you will do.
  2. Beat their deadline.
  3. Respond to emails promptly.
  4. Make useful suggestions.
  5. Return phone calls.
  6. Send a thank you note.
  7. Forward a useful article or website.
  8. Invite them to coffee.

What else do you do to show clients you care?


February 6, 2013

Client Stories: Justin Blair & Company

Filed under: Client Stories — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 12:55 pm

Client StoriesJustin Blair & Company is a Chicago-based manufacturer and distributor of foot and shoe care products. Their saying is “you use our products almost every day, but don’t know us.” They supply all the national shoe departments (Macy’s, Nordstrom, Nine West, Skechers, Steve Madden, etc.) with their shoe supplies such as shoe polish, foot measuring devices, tongue pads and disposable foot socks. They also market footwear and foot care products to independent pharmacies, DME’s, Orthotic & Prosthetic labs and Podiatrists.

Designs created for Justin Blair & Co.

Justin Bearak is the Chief Operating Officer of this family business supplying foot and shoe care supplies to multiple markets. Justin and I met through a mutual friend and started working together shortly after. We have collaborated on many projects for Justin Blair & Company, including the recent rebranding of their Ralyn shoe care (click to read a blog post about that project).

Justin Bearak of Justin Blair & Company

Tell us a little about your business.

The Bearak family has been servicing the shoe care industry for over 40 years.  Presently, we are the #1 shoe care supply vendor to the industry with high customers such as Macy’s and Nordstrom.  We also have a regional distribution business marketing comfort footwear and foot care products to “medical” style businesses. Recently we entered the health & beauty industry with our NightCare brand of foot beauty products such as our Gel Moisturizing Socks and Intensive Healing Foot Cream (shown above at right).

What do you love best about your job?

Every day is a different day. Because we are small I get to do many different functions that most people don’t get to experience. From designing marketing pieces to human resources, my daily schedule is always unique. Tying this all together is the fact that what I may do today can be almost immediately measured as an impact on the business.

How has your past work experience influenced your current career?

Coming from an engineering/manufacturer career definitely has provided some knowledge that has helped improve and enhance our warehouse activities. I also have learned what large companies do that suppress the ability to get things done, so I strive everyday to ensure that those environments don’t appear at Justin Blair & Company.

What do you like best about working with Lidia Varesco Design?

Lidia is truly a great partner to our business. We have worked on many different product designs and marketing efforts. Her attention to detail makes all the difference.

What is your favorite project that we’ve worked on together?

Our foot comfort line of fitting aids (pictured above at left) is my favorite. Lidia truly understands what we were looking for in the new packaging design. What’s even better is that this product line has experience great success as a result of her designs.

Editor’s note: the Justin Blair NightCare Foot Comfort line was also featured in The Big Book of Packaging, a book featuring examples of successful packaging designs.

Learn more:

Justin Blair & Company

Chicago, Illinois
Facebook: nightcareproducts

October 3, 2012

Meeting with a prospective client: before [CFC blog post]

Filed under: Client Communication,Small Business — Tags: , , — lidia @ 9:52 am

I recently received a referral from one of my office neighbors (see my last Creative Freelancer Blog post on my “new mom” networking style). It had been awhile since I met with someone who wasn’t familiar with my work, so I had to some prep work to do.

What to do before your meeting:

  1. Research the client: I can’t emphasize how important this is. Peruse their website, Google them, drive by the office. Not only does it help generate meeting dialogue, but it also gives you insight into what to include in your portfolio (see next tip).
  2. Personalize your portfolio: Bring projects that relate to your prospect’s industry. However, if a project has won an award or was featured in a publication, it’s a good idea to bring it along too.

Read the rest of my tips for preparing for a meeting on the Creative Freelancer Blog.

Part 2, “What to do after your meeting” will be posted tomorrow…

• • •

See all of my small business posts on the Creative Freelancer Blog here.

October 8, 2010

Five questions with Tracy Dillard [client stories]

Tracy Dillard of Keonig & Strey RealLiving

Tracy Dillard and I go way back.

I met Tracy, an agent with Koenig & Strey RealLiving, over 10 years ago. We were both working in previous jobs and worked on a design project together (a New Year card). We kept in touch when I started my business and have been working together ever since. Like I did on that first project, I work with Tracy to design a New Year card for her business every year—as well as print and online promotional materials throughout the year.

Tracy is a joy to work with, we share a creative synergy that makes projects flow very naturally. She knows what she likes, but also trusts my design expertise. Not to mention, she is a friend who provides inspiration—and always recommends a great coffee shop! What more can you ask for in a client?

Five Questions with Tracy Dillard

Tell me a little about your business.

Tracy: My eleven-year-old (a year older than yours!) real estate practice is primarily referral-based. I specialize in architecturally interesting and unique residential properties in Chicago and nearby suburbs. These properties may range from architect-owned condos in Mies van der Rohe-designed high-rises — to authentic lofts in converted institutional and commercial buildings — to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School houses.

What do you love best about your job?

Tracy: ‘Living temporarily’ in architecturally- and historically-singular spaces. The opportunity to mesh my aesthetic sensibility and business acumen. My smart, accomplished and interesting clients.

How have your past work experiences influenced your current career?

Tracy: I’ve worked with architects, artists, art collectors, corporate and foundation leaders, historians, government officials and developers in my past roles — which have included managing a mayoral committee on the arts and economic development in a major city, building public and private support for the arts in an historic community, and programming in a former torpedo factory and a zoo. My experience as a conduit or intermediary between competing interests has come in handy in real estate!

What do you like best about working with Lidia Varesco Design?

Tracy: You and I collaborate — in the best sense of the word. We come up with concepts over great coffee (key to our partnership), talk in shorthand (given our long relationship), review options via a few emails, and keep raising the creative bar on each other.

What is your favorite project that we’ve worked on together?

Tracy: Hmm. Hard to pick one. I think the New Year card with the black-and-white industrial photos you found to illustrate Carl Sandburg’s Chicago. What about you?

I agree…it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I love that one too! That project in particular had some lovely creative synchronicities: I saw the photographer’s work while browsing the Chicago Reader. I thought his style would be perfect for the card we were working on. I met with the photographer (Robert Murphy Photography) and the images he provided were truly perfect for the theme of the card.

New Year Card for Tracy Dillard (2002)

Thank you for chatting with me, Tracy!

As she mentioned, Tracy celebrated her 10-year business anniversary last year. See the anniversary card and other pieces I’ve designed for Tracy here.

To learn more about her business, visit Tracy’s webesite or follow her on Twitter.

Part of our series celebrating our 10 years in business. Read more here.

December 15, 2009

Business gift idea: eco-friendly coffee cup

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — lidia @ 2:49 pm

Searching for a last-minute gift for a co-worker or colleague with a caffeine addiction? Buy them the I Am Not a Paper Cup travel mug. The washable and reusable porcelain cup will keep drinks warm in the office—and empty paper cups out of the trash. And the silicone lid keeps your drink from spilling during your commute.

Available in Chicagoland at Paper Source and online at Amazon.com.

November 20, 2009

Business gift idea: city neighborhood posters

Filed under: Goods & Wares,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 2:39 am

I first noticed a Chicago Neighborhood Poster by Ork Posters a few years back while strolling the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Square… and have been enamored ever since. The city neighborhood posters are available for many popular cities (Chicago, LA, NYC, Seattle, Boston + more) in both single- and multi-color prints (my fave shown at left). I think they would make a great gift for local coworkers—or business associates across the country. And if you really love them, you could have it framed too.

Buy online or if youre in Chicago, stop by the Ork Posters Holiday Store in Ravenswood.

* * *

Watch the bright spot for new business gift ideas each week! And for more ideas read our Tipsheet How do I Find Alternatives to Traditional Gift Giving?

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