One of the most common questions I receive and one of the biggest mistakes I see designers make in their client process is confusing an Investment Guide and a Welcome Guide.
These are two completely different things with very different purposes.
What is an Investment Guide?
An Investment Guide (or a Pricing Guide or Services Guide) is a sales and marketing tool that professionally presents your business and services and provides information to help potential clients in their buying decision. This document is sent during the inquiry phase when a potential client first reaches out to learn more about working with you.
Sending an Investment Guide is an excellent opportunity to showcase your work, share client testimonials, and highlight the benefits of working with you. It’s also the perfect time to share your pricing and educate potential clients about your process.
Sending a comprehensive Investment Guide will help sell your services while also screening out people who aren’t a good fit. In addition, potential clients will greatly appreciate having all the information at their fingertips (versus the more common experience, which includes going back and forth, round and round, trying to get information from a service provider – not a good first impression).
The easier you make it on potential clients from the moment they inquire, the more likely they’ll be to assume the entire experience of working with you will be seamless and professional as well.
What is a Welcome Guide?
A Welcome Guide is a comprehensive document sent at onboarding once a potential client has signed your contract and made their first payment. This document officially welcomes them as a client to your company, establishes the expectations for working together from day one, lays out the specific process for their service, and lets them know what you need from them for a successful project.
Because the client is placing a great deal of trust in your service and won’t actually receive anything significantly tangible from you until their room or home is finished, sending them something, even digitally, right when they sign on will calm their nerves and validate their buying decision.
TIP: EACH SERVICE YOU OFFER SHOULD HAVE A WELCOME GUIDE TO DETAIL THE SPECIFICS OF THAT PARTICULAR PROCESS.
Common Mistakes Made With Investment Guides
MISTAKE 01: NOT INCLUDING ANY INVESTMENT INFORMATION.
Yes, this happens. Businesses send an Investment Guide to a potential client but don’t include any pricing information. So potential clients either assume the designer is WAY too expensive and don’t take the next step, or they think it isn’t expensive and waste time on a discovery call only to find out the company is outside their price range.
MISTAKE 02: INCLUDING INFORMATION THAT IS ONLY RELEVANT TO CLIENTS.
The information shared in your Investment Guide should sell your services and make you and your company the obvious best choice for the potential client. Clients don’t need to take your onboarding questionnaire or tell you where they like to shop until they’re an actual client. That’s only important when and if they become a client.
MISTAKE 03: FILLING THE INVESTMENT GUIDE WITH JARGON OR UNNECESSARY DETAILS.
Again, prospects need to understand your process and timeline as it relates to them and their needs; they don’t need lots industry jargon. If you confuse a potential client, you will lose them!
MISTAKE 04: NOT SENDING AN INVESTMENT GUIDE.
You likely send the same typed-up email and answer the same questions with every potential client you speak to. And, I’ll bet you have a collection of discovery call questions asked by potential clients that would be helpful to just about anyone who inquires about working with you.
By not having an Investment Guide, you create an experience for potential clients that feels like pulling teeth; they don’t know what they don’t know, and if they don’t ask the right questions, how will they know if your service aligns with their needs?
The whole purpose of an Investment Guide is to educate potential clients so they have all the information they need to make an informed decision. Sometimes this document will screen them out. Sometimes it will screen them in.
Either way, sending an Investment Guide to potential clients will save you time during the inquiry phase and discovery calls. It will also educate potential clients about your process and professionally showcase your company.
Imagine how it would feel to send out a professional document that explained your process and pricing and also answered questions your potential clients didn’t even know to ask.
What a great first impression!
Common Mistakes Made with Welcome Guides
MISTAKE 01: SENDING A WELCOME GUIDE BEFORE SOMEONE BECOMES A CLIENT.
This has happened to me several times when working with someone. I didn’t sign or pay or say yes, and the company sent me their welcome materials as if I were already a client. It created a lot of confusion and put a lot of pressure on me to say yes even when I wasn’t ready. And, if I’m not going to sign on to work with someone, why would I want to spend more time reviewing information, filling out questionnaires, or booking an onboarding meeting?
Again, you don’t want to confuse your client. When you send a Welcome Guide, it needs to be clear that they are now officially a new client. It should celebrate their decision and welcome them to your business.
MISTAKE 02: NOT INCLUDING IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN YOUR WELCOME GUIDE.
A Welcome Guide is an asset for your business that serves you with every single client. Create it once and benefit from it forever.
But you must include relevant information and collect the details you need to start a new project on the right foot. When clients first sign and pay, that’s when they are the most excited and involved in the project. They’ll pay the most attention and be eager to dive in.
Let them know what you need from them. What happens next. What they should and shouldn’t do throughout the process. You will have their full attention, so take advantage of it.
When you send a welcome guide but don’t include important information, guess what? Your clients will email you, call you, and have many questions. They’ll be confused and want guidance on what’s next, on whether they should be doing something or not, and on what the timeline is. And if they don’t hear from you and need to be the ones to always initiate contact, the frustration will start to brew, and they’ll go into every meeting and interaction expecting (and looking for) a negative experience.
MISTAKE 03: NOT SENDING THE WELCOME GUIDE QUICKLY ENOUGH OR AT ALL!
If you want to charge higher prices and work with high-end clients, you must provide a high-end experience.
High-end clients expect you have done this before. They want you to guide them through the process so they can kick back and relax. They want to trust and pay an expert to solve their problems so they don’t have to.
And this is why not sending a Welcome Guide is the biggest mistake. You’re missing an opportunity to set the expectation for a client’s entire experience with your business, and you’re setting yourself up to receive many questions when expectations don’t align once the project is underway.
Here’s the thing: from the time a client first inquires until the time you present their first design, a lot of time will likely have passed. This means your client may have forgotten what is supposed to happen, when it’s supposed to happen, or what they’re supposed to do. If you don’t have a formal system for guiding your clients through your process, you and your clients will likely experience more frustration and delays. For example, if you didn’t tell your client that payment for furniture is due in full before ordering and that you expect them to purchase on presentation day, they’ll likely show up to presentation day not ready to make a purchase. This causes delays for you because items could go out of stock or go up in price.
When you send a Welcome Guide, you can outline all the expectations in a friendly and supportive way and continue to reference your Welcome Guide as you approach each milestone, so your clients never feel like something you’re telling them is coming out of left field.
If you’ve been confusing an Investment Guide with a Welcome Guide, just remember:
An Investment Guide is a sales and marketing tool that also educates potential clients.
A Welcome Guide is an official new client document that sets a project up for success.
One of the first things I get you to do in Interiors Insider is to set up your Investment Guide. I show you all the things you need to include and provide yo with a template that can be branded with your logo and business fonts etc.
When I introduced an Investment Guide into my own design business it was an absolute game changer.
Don’t have a Welcome Guide? Join Interiors Insider and watch your business grow.