You just booked a new client! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First, let’s celebrate! Second, SLOW your roll, girlfriend! I know the level of excitement that comes with a shiny new booking, but jumping head first into the creative fun is NOT what you should do first! Heading straight from the contract signed to step one of your creative service is a sure fire way to set yourself up for failure in the client experience department. Instead of getting straight to the work, you have to do a few critical steps to set yourself and your client up for a successful working relationship. Today I am going to teach you the basics of Designing a Well Rounded Welcome Packet to kick off your service in control and establish healthy expectations and boundaries for your clients. I promise they will LOVE you for it!
*This post was updated in October 2017! New notes are shown in blue!
I wrote this post back in July of 2015. At the time, I was still planning weddings and felt like no one was sharing helpful branding and marketing advice for the planners & designers of the world. Welcome Packets were already popular in the Photography world, but there wasn’t a template or product around that served creatives outside of the photography genre. Since writing this post, I received countless requests and inquiries to make my Welcome Packet template available for purchase.
After a year and a half, I finally took the leap and opened our Client Experience Template Shop! Along with our Welcome Packet for creative entrepreneurs, there is a full lineup of templates available to elevate and streamline your brand and client experience, beautifully. Each template comes ready to easily edit in Canva or the Adobe Design Suite so you can pick what program works for you!
I am actually going to start just before the welcome packet, at the contract. I highly suggest you use some sort of online program for your contracts and signatures. I use Hellosign. They give you 3 free documents to go out for signatures each month. Other options include Echosign and more robust programs that take care of a slew of small business solutions like Honeybook. Whatever option you go with, allowing your client to sign their contracts electronically will start the process off right in the way of making the process easier for them. I know I hate having to print a document out to sign it by hand and then have to go through the process of scanning it in, finding the scanned file in my documents and then emailing it back to someone. It is the little things that make your client experience stand out from the rest!
*Back when I wrote this post, I wasn’t using a client relationship management tool like Honeybook. I no longer use a string of tools to run my client experience like Hellosign and etc. As my business grew, I realized that while free is nice, using too many tools is too much of a headache. Honeybook will save you time, money, and a lot of mistakes in the onboarding process!
Okay so now let’s move on to designing a welcome packet for after the dotted line has been signed! I am going to include things I have done in our Wedding Planner Welcome Packet, but also give some more general ideas for how to implement a well rounded welcome packet for your own creative small business, whatever that may be!
Before we get into the packet let’s chat for a minute on the packaging. Packaging is just as important as what is inside! Think about how you feel when you go to open a beautifully wrapped present. It makes you feel elated, excited and anticipate the treasures inside. Now imagine I handed you a grocery bag filled with stuff and told you it was a gift. I would bet you would put a smile on your face, but you would really be thinking how odd it is that I “wrapped” it in a plastic bag and you just might expect something used. Ha!
Don’t let your welcome packet fall victim to unthoughtful and unattractive packaging. Make sure each element of your packaging blends well with your brand to get your client excited about their delivery from the start! I chose these classic crest white document folders to house our welcome information and tie them up with a coordinating black and white stripe ribbon and a custom “Welcome” tag in our brand font.
If you take my advice from above about electronic signatures, be sure to include a finalized copy of the contract once all signatures have been completed. My payment schedule is laid out in the contract so this is also a good way for them to see it on paper and schedule their payments into their calendars. I know it seems silly to take this step if you have an electronic contract process, but when it comes to big transactions, many people like to have the contract in paper form to review when needed.
I strongly urge you to include a handwritten thank you note. It will make the package feel personalized and thanking your clients for trusting you above the rest is huge! Make sure they know how grateful you are for their business and how excited you are to make it happen for them.
If you prefer to be paid via check, include pre-addressed envelopes with postage for your clients to easily send payments when stipulated by the contract. It goes back to making the process as easy as possible for your client. Not having to scour through old emails for your address will certainly make sending you money owed much more pleasant on their end!
If you want them to follow you across your social mediums, ask them! Give them a card that lists all of the ways they can connect with you and get in touch when they need to. Mine includes my website address, phone number, and all social medium usernames so they can connect with MMC on their favorite social site.
This is super important… for your sanity! If you don’t have office policies, stop what you are doing and go make some. Some important info to include in this document are:
Your contact information (including your address if you want them to send payment via check)
How to make out their checks to you
Office Hours – So they aren’t calling you at 10pm!
Meeting Rules – We require meetings be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance due to the need to set up care for kids. We also require that any meetings that need to be canceled be done so at least 24 hours in advance so we can plan accordingly. Also, touch on where you will be holding meetings!
Communication – We talk about how in order for us to do our job well, we need to establish open communication with both the client and anyone else the client may be working with. We can’t plan that which we don’t know!
This is specific to the wedding industry folk, but if you work with other professionals as apart of your service, I would suggest you include a card that lists out your favorite and most trusted providers. This isn’t just a list of everyone you know who offers things. This list is the cream of the crop and professionals you know will come through every. single. time. Your client will look to you for insight on who is the best in both quality and trust so don’t blow it with a referral you aren’t 1000% sure will do the job very well. We call these people our Fabulous Vendors because we love them so!
For MMC Weddings, we created a custom paper planner to-do list insert for their wedding binder that covers everything we feel is important to focus on for the 12+ months leading up to the big wedding day and a few key things to do once it ends. We also took this custom to-do list and implemented it into our private client portal (but more on that another time!). We made sure to make it fun as well as extremely intentional to our planning process.
For other ideas I would say it depends on your specific industry, but a few that come to mind are: A wardrobe building guide for photo sessions for the photographer, a furniture arranging guide for an interior designer, a mad lib tailored to your specific service, an art print that they can hang on their wall, and etc. Make it something that makes them feel excited and ready to get started with you!
We sprinkle custom cut confetti into each and everything that gets sent to our clients! We realllllly love throwing confetti, y’all! This just reminds them that we believe the process of planning your wedding should be a celebration from Yes to I Do! And we always encourage popping some bubbly to make picking the details just a bit more sparkly 😉
Not into custom cutting confetti? Girl, I understand! I LOVE The Flair Exchange for confetti! And they do custom color mixes!
There are tons of options and ideas that you could include in your Welcome Packet that is specific to your industry, but hopefully, this is a good guide to get you going for a client experience that starts off right!
If you want a done for you Welcome Packet Design, our Welcome Packet Template is available in the shop! It comes with an in-depth Resource Guide and tutorial video to get you started! Our Client Experience Welcome Packet is available to easily edit in Canva or Adobe Photoshop for you to pick the program that is best for you! Get it here!
What do you include in yours? I would love to hear your ideas!
On to business. With 7 years experience in biz running a digital download shop, speaking at conferences, collaborating with dream brands, & booking 5 figure custom design clients, I share all that I've learned (and what I continue to learn!) about building a magnetic brand, effective marketing, and the science of conversion.
I promise to keep it real and relevant around here to help you make it happen... over a 4 count chicken mini meal. ;)
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