In late 2020 I made one small change to my website to try and increase the amount of potential clients reaching out to me, I swapped out the call to action button for a free strategy call button instead. This way clients could straight away book in a time through Calendly to get on a 30 minute call with me to talk through their project and how I might be able to help.
Then, a couple months later, I reverted this change back to the way it was. But why? What exactly is a free strategy session and does it make sense to offer it?
If you've ever browsed around different design studio sites, you might have come across the free strategy session offer. It might called something different, such as a free consultation or a quick chat, but it all means the same thing.
It will usually be something along the lines of a 30 to 45 minute call where a client outlines their current situation and you try and figure out if and how you can help them.
When you think about the process you go through to get new clients, there is a lot about offering a free strategy session that makes sense.
Usually clients will fill out a contact form to reach out, and then you find a time to get on a call with the client. By getting on a call with your client early on, you can ensure that the client is someone you'd be happy to work with, and also the client is likelier to work with you since they've already properly met you.
Because of this, by offering a strategy session straight out of the gate on your website, you actually remove the step of having to email back and forth and get straight onto a call with them.
But not every conversation makes sense to start with a call straight away.
These are the two problems with free strategy calls:
By framing the first contact through a strategy call, your client might just be looking for free consultation, whereas you're looking for a new client.
This means you might get a lot of calls for prospects that aren't a good fit, but even if you know they aren't a good fit after the first few minutes, you'll likely stick to the end of the call so you don't offend the prospect.
Some clients might see free strategy sessions as a gimmicky way to do a sales pitch. There's a good reason why major studios won't offer anything along the lines of this, because it feels inauthentic and less people will want to book a call if they feel they will just be talked at.
Because of these two reasons, free strategy calls don't make sense for web design projects. So what's the alternative?
Most studios still only have a simple contact form to reach out for new projects, as it's still a simple barrier to entry for most clients.
Based on what clients say when they reach out, it will usually make sense to pre-qualify them to weed out bad fits through some sort of questioning through email before getting on a call to ensure you're not talking to clients who have too small a budget or other unrealistic expectations.
You can either get rid of bad fits on your website with a long contact form, through email by asking questions about the project, or on the initial call. Again though, if you're doing it on the first call then you'll likely be wasting time by having some conversations that don't lead to a full website project.
When does it make sense to offer free strategy calls? Well if you have plenty of time to talk to new prospects and you're happy to have conversations that don't end up turning into projects, it might be a great way to chat with different clients and learn more about common problems that are coming up most often for them.
Even if the call doesn't result in you writing up a proposal, you'll still have one more person that can spread the word about what you do and how you can help.
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