Over-delivery is the only way to do business as a stand out creative

Anyone can do what is expected of them as a professional creative. Sounds like a good thing, yes?

The problem with doing what people expect you will do might be safe, but it will not help you stand out in the crowd.

Indispensable creatives don’t do what people expect they will do.

You need to be just as interested in being remembered positively as being found, and that requires that you deliver more.

How Can I Over-Deliver?

You must change your approach from ‘doing just enough’ to asking ‘how can I over deliver?’

Online shoe sellers Zappos and clothes company Nordstrom, for example, have developed a reputation for over-delivering to their customers. Nordstrom made a decision to prioritise superior customer service as part of their brand, doing things like walking customers to their cars and spending hours looking for a woman’s lost wedding ring.

This not only delivers satisfaction but encourages people to rave about the company because they do what most people do not expect. Think about how you transfer this to your own freelance business.

More and more designers and creatives are entering the market place, and clients have more and more options.

Being average is simply no longer an option. You must go way above average.

Delivering more than what the client expects ensures you have one really happy client. Nothing is more valuable to your business than previous and on-going happy clients.

You not only want repeat clients, excellent testimonials and a track record of success, but you want clients and customers who will speak highly of you to others.

When people start to talk about you, a large amount of your marketing is done for you and you will start to gather attention in your corner of the industry.

When you step up and dominate in this way, rather than simply competing with everyone else out there, you have a huge advantage. You stand out, and you slowly build up a positive reputation. You will be first to mind when people think of needing a [fill in skilled creative profession here].

Bear in mind that most of ‘over delivering’ is rooted to doing the unexpected. As such, take the following suggestions as ideas that you can create from, rather than set rules.

What are some ways you can go the extra mile?

Regularly reach out to new prospects and ask them about their businesses – show a real interest in helping them (great for your own marketing too).

– Ask previous clients how the project you worked on with them was received.

– Send physical letters as ‘thank yous’ to clients.

– Take out your prospects and past clients for coffee, or lunch. See client relationships as friendships rather than a dry chore.

– Recommend people you know in other fields that can help with your clients’ businesses.

– Cutting out any problems with a streamlined print sales process, but if something should arise, to quickly remedy with a gift or quick apology.

– Engage directly with individual customers to ask them about their experience.

– Create physical books to send to your prized clients and prospects. Illustrator Rod Hunt and designer Radim Malinic do this to great effect with the books they regularly send out in the mail.

The thing is, over-delivering doesn’t require masses of extra energy, and it does not need to be expensive.

You simply need to do what most will not do.


  1. I love this idea! Providing amazing service and personalized care is the way to be remembered. I’ve been going at it wrong. I’ve been brainstorming extra “bells and whistles” I can provide to “stand out” from my competition. I realized that providing extra services for free is actually a bad thing. It trains my clients to expect things for free, and to not value me as a designer. Showing my customers I care about their success is a win-win for both of us. Thanks Alex.

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