Monday, May 18, 2009

In or On the Business

So often we as designers spend all of our creative energy working “in the business” that is doing the actual creative work for a client. To be able to survive and continue offering design services, we must also realize that many cases we have a parallel set of functions – making sure our design firm/studio is profitable. If not the doors will close and so will our avenue to be creative.

This deals with “working on the business”. This is important for a one person design firm to the large studios. So I thought I would spend some time with this and the next blog going over graphic design “on-the-business” suggestions.

1. Just like any other business, the graphic design business must have goals. These will permit you to measure your progress and provide opportunities to celebrate when you reach such goals. Sales and Revenue goals are two of these very important goals. Set a goal for your upcoming year. This should include reviewing what your revenue was last year so you can set meaningful goals that can be reached with a stretch.

2. Who are your firm’s clients? You should know who you want to sell to and who is buying. If you have been following my blogs you should know that answer of “every and any one” is unacceptable. Avoiding the wrong clients is just as important as going after the correct client.
At the studio we measure a potential client/engagement by 4 criteria. If the prospect as only two or less, it is a very high risk situation to accept the project. These (in no order of importance) are:
  • Good credit (did not say lots of money). They need to be able to pay their bills when milestones are reached and not post-pone acceptance to meet their cash flow crunches.
  • Understanding of Design - or at least an appreciation of the importance of design and the process and creativity behind effective designs. Also stay away from anyone who says I do not have time to provide input but I will know it when I see it. Run away from such a prospect as fast as you can.
  • Not a dying industry – every industry has its cycles. Stay away from those industries that at the present are in a down-turn. You do not want to be pulled down with them. Such clients will also just be looking for price and not the most cost-effective, message-effective, and brand-effective solutions.
  • More than one engagement – It takes time to build relationships with clients. You want to be able to harvest the investment in such relationship building.
3. Marketing and advertising – Design firms must also advertise and market. You need to invest in your own collateral. So often we just create such collateral for our clients and forget about our own internal needs. This is often called the “physician heal thyself) syndrome.

4. Are designs available for out-of-the-studio meetings? Many times, especially for more complicated projects, the creative design team must be available to meet and discuss/brainstorm/present with/to the client.

5. How professional are your proposals. For small projects, a quote is sufficient. But as the project becomes larger and more complicated, pull blown proposals are required including addressing the three aspects of a project (specifications, budgets, and schedules).

No comments:

Post a Comment