Technology and innovation go hand-in-hand as something that, as tech-minded people, we all love to learn more about. We tend to opt for the latest technologies and services that make our products shine but also that will speed up our own processes. Premium clients often have other objectives in mind that take priority over speed, faster delivery, or cost efficiency.
In this article, I discuss the lessons I have learned from working on web projects with global premium brands and try to gather key points that should be considered when writing a technology proposal. In doing so, we try to put ourselves in the shoes of a premium brand to better understand their point of view and their decision process when it comes to choosing the technology to aid in the production of their projects.
Align yourself with their objectives
The main reason for a difference between your thought process as a techie and the point of view of a Marketing Executive charged with the online retail branch of a global brand, for example, comes down to a difference in objectives.
Your priorities might be to improve the speed of their service, to make it entirely cloud-based, fully automated, dynamically scalable, super cost-effective, and essentially capable of running itself. In short, you envision creating the future in a box with a nice wrapper.
At this point, it’s important to remember that your solution must tailor to the needs of your clients. As premium clients, you know they will expect the best, and they want the result of your work to reflect their requirements “pixel-perfect.”
You should keep in mind that most of the time they are also limited in the services they can use due to legal reasons, and often they will already have an existing technology infrastructure in place that your solution will plug into. It is also possible that they already have partial technology requirements that you will have to adapt to, so don’t start a project with a fixed idea of what the solution you are working towards will be without first accounting for the client’s own needs.
Security & Privacy
Security and privacy are always number one, and it’s a vast topic for learning. Below, I discuss the two simple concepts it is imperative to understand here.
Firstly, a web platform cannot be vulnerable to DDoS attacks which could result in an online store going down and consequently your client losing money by the minute, and a lot of it. They won’t forget to stress to you that this cannot be allowed to happen. For them, spending money on a durable solution is not an issue when you consider that service downtime will cost them more overall than the most expensive firewall. Now, you have two options and a very important decision to make. If you are or have at your disposal, a certified security expert, you can set up a custom security solution and document it quite extensively to impress the client and make sure that you cover all the cases that your system will handle and more importantly, the cases that are not covered.
If you don’t have the resources to provide a custom security package, there are excellent options on the market that come highly recommended and trusted with many certificates, partners, and long lists of popular clients. It’s often the preferred solution for multiple reasons: the level of certification and trust, the speed of implementation, resilience, maintenance, scalability, and others.
It is also important to show your client that when it comes to your process, background, and your ability to design a secure platform that they can be assured you will do everything needed to safeguard the privacy of their customers. It is necessary to master the legalities around data privacy, GDPR, storage location, and all other legal requirements, and you can guarantee that all premium-level clients will be ready to quiz you on your understanding of these.
In my experience, I have found that most times the client will have a precise idea of what they want to use, and you are likely to receive a 200-page long document on how you must implement it (no joke). For example, an online retail brand can tell you to use Magento to build their new eCommerce platform. However, you should still research potential security breaches both in the CMS itself and also in plugins that you or your client may consider using.
It is not impossible to sell a custom solution if you document it well. Often, clients of this caliber like to have the flexibility to do things their way and if you can offer them this flexibility, they will be interested in taking the opportunity if you can show them that you are capable of carrying it out.
Remember that they will hold you responsible for the security, stability, and usability of your product, it is up to you to take the time to assess and make them aware of the potential risks of your solution. It is tough to deploy a perfect product, “there will be bugs” they say, so you will gain nothing from hiding these from your client… keep in mind that a few bad tweets can quickly snowball into a PR nightmare for them which will reflect poorly on all involved parties, so neither of you will want this!
Good user experience will drive more engagement and ultimately, more sales. This is why premium brands will insist on having a user-friendly, fast and reliable service at all costs.
They will often prefer paying for a robust and large infrastructure running at 10% capacity than facing a potential slowdown of the platform even when it is only temporary. Sometimes, dynamically scalable solutions can take up to a couple of minutes to readjust, and while it is definitely of interest when it comes to optimizing costs, a few minutes is too much for these guys.
Another solution is to set your threshold reasonably low in the case where you must add an instance to boost horsepower, however you must consider that starting and stopping instances could end up being more expensive and while cost may not be an issue for your premium-tier clients, they often have scrutinous processes in place to make sure they receive value equal to that of their investment.
You see, the reason these clients are considered “premium” is because of the quality of their service, their attention to detail, and that is also what they are looking for when signing with a technology partner. Here at the Studio, we often say…
“A premium brand requires a premium partner.”
Let’s say that the client asked you to use Magento but they want each one of their product pages to look different, with a completely different design every time. After all, none of their products are the same, each of them deserves their share of attention and a unique style. At this stage, there is no point saying “but that’s not how Magento is supposed to work,” because that is exactly why they choose to work with you, they trust that you will make it work to meet and surpass their needs and expectations. They need to know that they can ask you anything and that as a “premium partner” you will deliver every time.
You also have to remember that a “user” of the platform could be a visiting customer browsing the website, or a member of the client’s staff handling orders or customer support. Both types of user should enjoy a frictionless experience and be able to go from point A to Z in just a few steps.
“Premium brands attract premium clients. Both want the best there is, no matter the cost.”
Tools and Added value
Most premium brands will have a large marketing team tasked with analyzing the data gathered by the platform and the more metrics they have, the more confident they will be to make the best marketing decisions. It is necessary to give them the tools to be able to do their job as efficiently as possible, especially when you are introducing them to a new technology to make their decisions so much easier.
To build a useful tool means to know your client’s needs and understand their processes. When writing documentation or talking to a premium client, you will have to demonstrate that you are fully aware of how they operate and that you will tailor the platform to their needs.
“The technology is at their service, there’s no limit.”
It is also important to show that you will bring added value to the final product by adding extra features, polishing the UI as much as possible, or providing a platform that is flexible to suit every situation. A good example: you created a dashboard with a bunch of graphs, tables, numbers, all from a relevant data source, but every single user may not have the same way of interpreting and using the data. To remove some of the ambiguity, you decide to make the dashboard fully customizable and give the possibility to the user to hide/display each element, brilliant!
“Small details make all the difference.”
Provide a solution
Now that you are aligned with the client’s needs, you can be sure that you know what the real objectives are and you have everything you need to provide a solution to meet your client’s goals. This solution must be documented very clearly, concisely and to the point. You are their premium tech partner, and they are no longer considering multiple solutions, just yours. They trust you to make the best decisions on their behalf and provide top class results.
You can make use of visuals as well here, as most of the time you will be interacting with people involved directly in the process, meaning that you will need to create a bridge between the technology you are introducing and their daily tasks and processes that you are hoping to improve. A simple example is as follows: “the platform uses this database because it is made to filter a large number of products or orders and handle numerous concurrent requests to reduce delay.” The wording here is not very technical, but it uses their terms to explain why your decision is the right one and demonstrate how it takes their objectives into consideration.
It is important to always reassure them by giving them tangible information that is easy to understand. These could be numbers and metrics like the numbers of concurrent users that your solution will be able to handle, the time that it takes to load a page, to query products, to go from the homepage to finalizing a checkout, and more. It could also be a list of premium companies using the same type of technology stack or similar infrastructure to give them a point of comparison.
As mentioned previously, a premium client will have strict requirements, and it is your job in the project to “make it happen.” That’s something that your documentation must reflect clearly. Each requirement should be analyzed and treated with the same level of rigor and detail. Keep in mind that this document will be shared around to managers and executives, so it must be comprehensive and indisputable.
Now, no matter if you have already acquired the deal or are in the process of finalizing it, you should highlight the little things that you will add to the project to show the thought you have put into your solution. These things make you a “premium partner.” They show that your company cares and that you want the best solution for them and it works every time because they recognize the extra effort and do the same for their customers.
Well… what have we learned? Premium brands have their own objectives when it comes to technology. They align with their internal philosophy revolving around providing the best service possible to their customers. They focus on security and privacy, a strong user experience, and gathering data to make well-documented decisions without losing track of the primary objective which is generating sales. To do that, they trust you, their “premium partner” to meet of all their requirements and more, to deliver a tech product that will save them time, effort, and ultimately, money.
My final word would be that it is a pleasure to work with premium brands. You can feel that you are in an environment where everyone cares about their work and trusts their colleagues to share the same standards. The bar is definitely set very high, and at the end of the day, you are responsible for understanding and delivering exactly what they ask for. However, they don’t leave you in the dark, because they can articulate what they need so perfectly, it is often a simple and enjoyable task to “make it happen.”