Your clients are everything. Get the best ones and leave the rest for your competitors. We know some practices that use a "shotgun" approach – they shoot at anything that moves. And then they try to figure out what to do with the kill. Frankly, it's a really dumb, self-defeating strategy. In the four topics below, we discuss some of the most important ways for you to think about finding and keeping the best of the best clients.
As practiced in most design firms, BD is essentially firm-focused: showing (mostly with pictures) what the designer can do for a client. The folios of pretty pictures have been largely replaced by websites of the same pretty pictures, typically with sparse text, or none at all. Enterprising firms and their principals have begun to use new “channels” made possible by technology, but most still build relationships in traditional ways, create close relationships with repeat clients where possible, wait for projects to be announced, and compete for them.
The “commodity box” means that clients treat your services as a “commodity” – a “standard” service that can be sourced at the lowest price. Even when clients have a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of design services, price is usually a component in the decision. When you’re in the Commodity Box, it feels like like there is nowhere to move, except to cut price. Unless you can figure out how to add value to your offer – something clients want at an emotional level – you’re stuck in there. Don’t buy into that.
Good proposal writing is a fine art, and a complex business. In the US, PSMJ offers a full two-day program on how to do it better. We don’t offer that program in Australia-New Zealand, but the key principles of it are embedded in the PM Essentials program – and we include several specific techniques that help project managers to become better proposal writers.
There’s an old saying: If you keep asking questions and don’t get satisfactory answers, maybe you’re asking the wrong questions. Perhaps the right answer here is “Stop trying to promote your services”. Promoting your services is all about you – what you can do for your clients – not about what they need from you. Most design professionals understand the idea of becoming a Trusted Advisor – a person or firm the client seeks out when they need or want help.
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