Why you need a leave-behind

Why you need a leave-behind

Ashley Gainer's Layout avatar

Ever heard of a leave-behind? It’s something graphic designers, photographers, artists, and advertisers have done for a long time, but the leave-behind is also applicable to web designers. If you’re really trying to impress a client in a face-to-face meeting, consider a leave-behind for the final part of your pitch — the part that keeps on going, long after you’ve left the building.

What’s a leave-behind?

The leave-behind is a physical piece of your portfolio — something you will set on the table or place in the potential client’s hands and (you guessed it!) leave behind after your meeting is over. If you’re conducting everything online, you can also mail the leave-behind to the client.

leaveaway1 Leave-behind designed by Kristenelle Coronado.

The leave-behind traditionally features one killer portfolio item, but it can also be engineered as a collage of pieces. Nothing too bulky and not too much content, though — the key is to keep it small and sweet — you aren’t showing off your whole portfolio in the leave-behind.

Why should you make a leave-behind?

It’s a way to prove that you’re a supreme professional. While your potential clients might not necessarily expect a leave-behind from a web designer, it’s an “extra mile” step that gives you one last opportunity to demonstrate just how awesome you are.

Ultimately, the purpose of a leave-behind is to serve as a physical reminder of you and your awesomeness to the client. If done well, your leave-behind will establish a positive, lasting impression that will help land the gig for you. (Plus, they can be a really fun, creative project — all in the name of business!)

What should your leave-behind look like?

The great thing about the leave-behind is that it can really be anything you want it to be. Typically leave-behinds are things like brochures, prints, booklets, or other creative packets that showcase the best elements of your design portfolio. They’ll often have a place for a business card to slip in, but not always.

More elaborate (and expensive) custom leave-behinds can include laser cutouts, pockets for samples, or take a completely different approach. And then there are non-paper leave-behinds — things like tote bags or custom food packaging, for example.

Leave-behind designed by Alex Hines. Leave-behind designed by Alex Hines.

No matter what you go with, one goal of a leave-behind is to make it something the recipient would want to keep around. Don’t make it too small and don’t make it too big. If done well, your leave-behind could be something that sits on the client’s desk or gets pinned up on the wall. If you want to go the non-paper route, make sure you come up with something that is relevant to your portfolio and not just a cute or handy thing with your branding slapped on it.

The complexity of a web-design project lends itself to many different approaches to the leave-behind, especially of the paper variety. A hefty bi-fold brochure or a slim folder with smaller pieces slipped in the pockets could be what best showcases your site designs. Or the leave-behind could be integrated with your pitch, highlighting specific things you mention that you want the potential client to remember most.

Don’t forget your leave-behind’s take-away

The possibilities really are endless with the leave-behind, so as you think through your own ideas, keep these things in mind:

  • Your leave-behind needs to be interesting and memorable, as well as something that’s easy for your potential clients to keep (and “hard to throw away” in a sense).
  • It also needs to highlight your design skills. Make it relevant to what the client needs and how you can help them.
  • And, as with all marketing material, don’t make it about you. But do make sure your name is in there somewhere!

Have you ever used a leave-behind? What’s the most memorable one you’ve ever come across?

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