Univers is a full-service graphic design studio focused on future-facing identities & websites. We simplify, clarify and strengthen brand communications.

New Business

Our Studio

We love to see clients and other friends at our studio.
10-20 Gwynne St
Cremorne VIC 3121,


To stay up-to-date


Finding clients for a design business

Although we like to grow long-term relationships with our clients at Univers, it’s inevitable that some clients simply no longer need our services. At the same time, new clients come along and past clients reappear with new needs we can meet, so on balance we’re able to maintain a steady flow of work.

The way I just described it, the ‘new work’ side of that sounds kind of natural and to a large extent it is. However, I don’t think it happens by accident. Here’s my ideas on how to build a client demand flow, which should be useful for pretty much any business in professional services. Though my experience is in branding and web design, this all applies to architects, engineers, landscape architects, interior designers and even real estate agents.

Respect for much of this goes to the excellent book “Managing the professional service firm” by David H. Maister. Worth a read, though things have moved on in some areas since it was first published in the late 1990s.

There are a number of tactics you can use to win work outlined in the second part of this post. However, as with many things, I like to start with an understanding of the audience -- in this case, clients. Here is a high level segmentation of potential clients, in terms of their need for your services and their relationship to you.

Client you don’t know

Client you know

Current need



No need



4. Clients you don’t know who don’t have a need

Your worst possible target (yet still common for many campaigns!) These are the people least likely to even want to talk with you, let alone engage your business. I think the reasons are obvious, so I won’t go into detail here.

3. Clients you don’t know but who do have a need

They have a current need for your services, so it’s alluring to see this as a potential group of big wins waiting to happen. But how do you connect with them, then convince them that you’re the right person for their project out of all those they’re considering?

2. Clients you know who have a current need

This is a really important group, though it’s easy to put too much into trying to get them to make a commitment if they’re shopping around for services. If they’ve finished shopping and are working with you on their current need then they’re no longer a prospect, they’re a current client, but all the same, they might develop a new or extended need, or have an opportunity to refer you, at any time. When that happens, you want to be top of their mind for the right reasons. More about how to do that further down.

1. Clients you know who don’t have a current need

Focus your efforts connecting with this group and good things will come your way! All assuming you provide high grade outcomes and service, these people should already trust you or at the very least, be open to talking with you. When a need emerges, you stand a good chance of being their go-to.

Reaching new clients with social media and advertising

Advertising and social media seem to many to be a logical way to gain new work, especially with clients in segments 3 and 4. It might work if your ads and posts are very well targeted to the specific needs of each client. If not, your efforts are just more noise, another ad, another business pushing their barrow in a crowded marketplace offering to do something for everyone. Also, beware of the strong connotations (ie. low confidence, mass market, pushy, price-oriented) that advertising can easily have, and which is totally out of place for most professional service businesses.

All forms of social media posting and commenting can serve you as a way to stay in touch with those important clients in segments 1 and 2. To implement that well, keep it personal and don’t post ads. Only post things that you know people will find helpful. Also, the other ways to stay in touch (email, phone) outlined below may be more effective for you.

The secrets of getting more work

In my experience running Univers, the following tactics have both helped me connect personally with people (clients) and lead to new work. We have implemented these almost as second-nature, they are not part of a strategy other than to be a great design studio. Putting a more assertive or strategic spin on these could work wonders, or could just make you look phoney, I’ll leave that up to you.

• Email

A brief, personal email, just to stay in touch can be nice and should not be underrated.

An email newsletter or EDM for your clients can also help them remember you and has worked well for many of our clients. An EDM with good content, dropped once a month is plenty for most design businesses. It should contain a personal message from you or a director about some change or trend which your clients might find interesting. It can show one or two new projects, though I think that’s optional. I personally like EDMs which contain useful, current links. Don't make it too hard to put together or too hard to read, remember it’s just an email.

• Phone

Similar to the nice personal email, a phone call to a previous client, to see how they’re getting along and what’s new in their world can be fulfilling on many levels. I’m genuinely interested in how businesses and the people in them evolve, so a phone catch up suits me well. Keep it light and about the client, but have something brief to say about yourself, and respect your client’s time. I’d suggest only calling one or two clients a day, any more can be tiring and it shows.

• Super please

It usually pays to super-please the clients you’re currently working with, providing flexibility and inclusions within reason, and being responsive and expert on the current engagement. Of all things, I believe this is the best marketing tactic to win new work, and it’s not a hack or even that difficult to implement. When done well, you should see repeat work and the occasional referral to a new client.

• Specialize

This is a whole other blog post (or book). The gist is: clients want someone who’s expert in the problem they have, and will seek out a service provider who specializes in their problem. They are also often willing to pay more for that specialist expertise. This has the potential to draw good clients you don’t know (segments 3 and 4), while also strengthening your relationships and reach with those you do know (1 and 2).

It might be more simple than you think

Finding new work can take a lot of time and effort. There is no magic in it, but knowing who your best prospects are, staying in touch, super pleasing and specializing are the simple things that I know work.