You've got the phone call. Or email. Your client would like to move their website to another provider. Or worse, they've had a whole new website developed and want to shut your creation down. Your client, whom you've spent many hours working alongside to create a site that they asked for, exactly to specification, plus gave a lot more, has not just left you, they've built an entirely new site with someone else, without you knowing! Without asking you to help first!

This is an all too common occurrence in the marketing industry and we often put it down to the client having a change in direction, or wanting a new perspective. After all, isn't that what we tell ourselves when they leave? Isn't it what they tell us when they leave.

Well, I say "Rubbish" to that! If you know the answer to the below statements then there is NO reason that your client needed to leave you when they need to refresh their website.

1. Not understanding why the client has come to you

The first reason the client left is that you don't understand what industry you are in. Just because the website is built on a computer, found by computers and hosted in the Cloud, you are not in information technology. You are in marketing! A websites purpose is to help your client to communicate and promote their business to the right market. By not having a strong understanding of why your client has come to you, you are already jeopardising that future relationship. Your client will see you as a mechanic, someone whom they call on when things need to be built of fixed, and not an essential partner in the future of their business. Instead, you should be seen as the expert in all things digital, in order to help them to achieve their marketing goals through your tool of the trade, web.

2. Not having the right information from the client

When you're dealing with a business owner or manager then more often than not they will not provide you with a marketing plan. By not being able to see where the client wants to take their business and how they want to get there, how are you meant to create a website that helps their business? This is like getting in a taxi and telling the driver you want to go home, but not giving them the address. If you're in the know on where they want to go in the first place you can offer better quality advice and add far more value than being kept in the dark.

3. Not being part of their big picture

If your client hasn't shared their marketing plan (or just doesn't have one!), then there is a really (really) high chance that they also don't truly understand how their website will be a part of their business success. If their idea of a successful website is about as specific as "because my business coach/hairdresser/buddy told me I needed one" then not only are your services positioned as a necessary expense, the whole industry is. I wish you luck to come back from that position to build trust and add value! Your client needs to understand how the website fits with their entire marketing plan, their brand and their business model. Only then do you have the opportunity to show them how YOU and your business can add value to their business?

4. Not collaborating with you

Did you know that you are not a marketer? Yes, I've already said that you're in the marketing industry, but that doesn't mean you need to have a degree in marketing in order to be a successful web developer or designer. There are entire businesses out there who can work with you and your client to see how a perfectly positioned website can help them to grow their business. If you've not thought about collaborating with one of these businesses, you should. By having a collaborative approach with your client and with an external branding and marketing company, you can then get down to the business of building and designing effective websites while knowing that your client is being driven strategically by a peer business. This will ensure that the client sees how the website will continue to add value, long after it's been built and paid for. Then when the client 'changes direction' you know you've got a collaborator at the strategic table with the client who then can bring you back into the fold when they need a do-over.

5. Not knowing just how essential a website is in their business

There is a huge difference in something being a necessary cost (like a power bill) or a real value to a business. While electricity is a commodity, web design should be a part of the clients business that continues pays for itself. But if you’ve overlooked the first four points above then the crux of the issue is that you don’t understand how essential a website is to a business. If you let your client simply commission you to build their site then there is no way you’re able to see how your design and development make up the big picture in the success of the clients business!

You don’t have to change!

You went into business to design and develop websites, didn’t you? Well brand people like myself went into business to help grow our clients' businesses and we see the web as a huge building block to their success. We also see that it takes focus to develop successful websites, which is why we leave that part to the experts (that's you) – so if you’d like to talk about how we can implement the above points with your clients then let’s talk about collaborating.


Amanda van Kuppevelt

Owner and founder of Delineate who's mad keen about client successes