Monday, January 2, 2012

The difference between a "cheap" and a small budget.

Let's differentiate between "cheap" and someone who doesn't have much of a budget.

I can work with someone that doesn't have much of a budget, but I can't help someone who is looking for the cheapest person to do the job.

A client that recognizes high quality work and knows the difference between poor design and  great  design with smart marketing is the person I want to work with. They understand that if they spend a little more, they will get a lot more in return.  And they respect good work.

Before I went freelance over 25 years ago, I worked for a company that was always busy.... but the company folded and a few years later I saw my old boss, the owner of the company, selling computers at a big box store.

The reason his business failed is that it didn't matter what we did, we were always getting hammered on the price of our design services because my boss always sold "price" not service, quality, experience or results. The clients he attracted always asked for more and demanded to always spend less and less.

In this economy it's tough to say no to a prospective client, but it's important to remember that if you sell cheap you will attract cheap. And no matter what you charge a client that is cheap, they will always want to buy your services for even less!

At times I get prospective clients who tell me that they can get a project done for $50 by "this student I found on the internet" or "my cousin for $75" or "this company in India for $100". I can't help these people because they can't tell good work from bad work and are just looking for cheap. Plus the chances of their success and repeat business is low.

Bottom line: Work with someone who has a limited budget, if it's within reason. Run from the person who couldn't care less who they are working with and are just looking for cheap.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A smart client

Just got off the phone with a new client. A smart client.

He was looking for a logo. I gave him a quote. He said "that's $250 more than I wanted to spend... but I need a really great logo and I will be spending a lot more on my web site and who knows how much more on my brochure and advertising... ok, let's do it."

What makes this client smart is 3 things...

1- He knows the importance of a good logo for consumer credibility.
2- He knows that he will be spending good money after bad if he goes "cheap" with a bad logo and then spends lots of money later on publishing it all over the place.
3- He budgeted for promoting his company.

I was so happy that I didn't have to spend a lot of time educating this fellow about the importance of starting off with a professional logo and how in the long run he could LOSE business with a poor logo.

Bottom line... as a successful freelancer you will be spending a considerable amount of time educating your clients, but if you show a personal interest and deliver, you will have a client for life!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I feel bad for my client

I just got off the phone with a new client. I really felt bad after talking with him.

He got in touch with me about a month ago for a brochure. I explained that I would help him with his text to communicate clearly what he has to offer and design the brochure at the highest level of professionalism.

I didn't hear from him until today.

"Rob... I don't know if you remember me, (I did) but I'm stuck. I had a brochure done, it's crap and the guy who did it for me went way over budget. Can you fix this brochure?"

I told this fellow that I could help him, but we would have to start from scratch otherwise it would be like patching up a house that didn't fit your family and that's falling down instead of building a house that fits all your needs.

His brochure kept talking about his company BUT NOT WHAT HIS COMPANY can do for his CLIENTS. His stock photo visuals were not consistant... it was as if 3 different photographers took the shots without consulting with each other.

His brochure lacked credibility. He lost sales because he wanted to save the $350 dollar difference between what the other "designer" did and what I quoted.

What would he have gotten spending a little more? Strong sales copy. Strong graphic design that would have lead the prospective customer to make the right decision by choosing his company.
And it would have come in ON BUDGET.

I got the assignment, but I couldn't save him a second fee.

Bottom line:
You should have more to offer than just "pretty pictures". Pretty pictures don't sell. Smart marketing thinking WITH strong graphic design does.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Your logo as a profit center

I just got off with a smart prospective client. Why is he smart?

Well, he knows the importance of a kick butt logo and that in the long run it WILL MAKE HIM MONEY.

Companies like Nike, Playboy and Disney and the band KISS make oodles of money licensing their logos out for merchandising. Now, you are thinking... I'm not licensing my logo... this is a waste of my time.

But getting back to that smart prospective client... his business is NOT selling t-shirts, BUT he plans on selling t-shirts and other items with his logo on it as an extension of his core business. If his logo is crappy, how many people are going to want to buy a t-shirt? He would be losing money with a poor logo that was wasn't smart, clever and memorable.

Ever been to a Mom and Pop restaurant... sometimes they sell t-shirts with their logo on it.. it's another profit center for them!

Bottom line... a great logo in the long run is less expense than a cheap logo now... and a great logo designed by me can add big bucks to your bottom line. Plus remember: you will be throwing good money after bad if your web site and promotional material all have an ill conceived logo on it. Spend your money where it really counts... give your business credibility. Call me and let's design a kick butt logo that can earn you money!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Your client knows better than you?

We'll folks if you do as many assignments as me, eventually you will come across a client that thinks he knows better than you.

Some times my clients make suggestions, some of them are so good that I hit myself silently in my head thinking... "now why didn't I think of that".

Yep, sometimes they come up with great ideas but sometimes they THINK they know better when they don't and that's when it becomes frustrating.

For example, last month I did an assignment for this fellow who asked me to create a brochure. The target audience was men and women in their 70's who own their own homes.

I took his brochure text, revised it, pulled out some great quotes that really sold his product and created a kick butt brochure that was easy to read... remember, his target audience is elderly. I sent it out and waited for his response.

"It's crap" he e-mailed me. I thought he was joking. Turns out he was dead serious. He then sent me the brochure that HE designed.

All his text was white against a blue background. He chose a similar photo for the front that I used and kept most of my copy direction.... but his piece had many serious flaws.

"What do you think?" he asked.

I replied... "It looks pretty. But it will fail and here is why... please take this as constructive criticism:

Your target audience is elderly and it's a known fact that reading large amounts of knocked out text against a dark background reduces readership because it's difficult to read. You also used a sans serif font that is difficult to read in a size that is very small... you should have used a font with serifs and gotten your type up much larger. Your audience doesn't care about it looking elegant, they want to read what you have to say AND save money. They want you to help them get out of the jam they are in.

Another problem with your design is that you haven't designed any focal point. Readers like to see bold or larger introductions to sections. Your text looks like a brick wall... I would not have the patience to try to read what you created and neither will the folks you are trying to reach. You have to make it easy for them to read your message."

I never heard from him again...

Bottom line freelancers: Keep an open mind, sometimes your client will hit upon an idea that's great. Don't be defensive... give credit where credit is due. Your client will like the fact that you recogonized their creativity and that will not diminish you in their eyes. And for the client that thinks they know it all, be patient, try to teach them. If THEY don't let their egos get in the way you will have a loyal client.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why some clients fail

I just got off the phone with a person who is starting a new business and I hate to say it but, their business is going to fail even before they have a chance.

He might have the best product in the world but I feel that he is going to be throwing his hard earned money away.

Here's why.

He was not budgeting correctly and he didn't think about how he was going to drive traffic to his site. What he wanted to do was have a logo created and a web site built. "build it and they will come" was his idea. Wrong. The web is a big place, getting a top ranking on the first page of a search is rare and it takes time and money to achieve.

So I asked "How are you going to drive customers to your web site?" "I hadn't thought of that" was his reply. I then suggested that he might want to consider a small direct mail campaign consisting of a simple postcard or perhaps some local radio advertising. I went through a list of suggestions just to be told... "all I'm interested in is a logo and a web site".

Well, that's my job, so I gave him a quote. "Hey! I can get a logo done for $125 bucks and a web site for $500" was his reply. Then it hit me. His business is dead before he even has a shot.

Here's why.
Consider your own consumer experience. You are ready to buy. You go to a site. The logo looks like crap and the site says "I'm not professional". Do you think this company will deliver the goods. Do you think that it's safe to give them your credit card? Probably not. If you are like me, you would rather spend a few dollars more going with a company that looks CREDIBLE and RELIABLE.

I will not be working with this fellow and that's a shame. Because I could have really helped the guy. When I made suggestions (like cheap local radio to get his web site out there) I wasn't going to make any money... I wanted to see him succeed. If he did well, then I would end up getting more business from him. He wins, I win.

I tried to explain to him that the most important time to spend your money was at the beginning to establish yourself. You have to look and act like you mean business. That you are a serious player. That you are a CREDIBLE company and that by going with a cheap amateur, you are going to come across as a amateurish business.

Bottom line... to be a successful freelancer you have to educate your clients, take the time to help them understand that you are giving them the best shot at success.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"checking with other graphics artists

Just got an e-mail from a prospective client asking for a price for some design work.

Here's how I responded:

Hi ******

Thanks for your inquiry...

You mentioned that you were " checking with other graphics artists and resources".

As far as other designers.... you'll get more bang for your buck working with me because when I take on an assignment I look at your communication first and then I help you turn your copy into copy that sells.

I will ask you questions like: Who is your target audience? What are they looking for? What sets you apart from your competition? Why should I pick up the phone and call you now?

By personalizing your message and talking directly to your target audience, you will increase your success rate.

Other designers are just interested in "pretty pictures". Designing a "pretty" piece is easy. Any designer worth his salt can do that. But honing your message so that it sells... that's a different story and I can help you do that.

I'm an artist first, been drawing my whole life, when I was a teen, I went to the High School of Art and Design then became a full scholarship winner to the School of Visual Arts..

I've worked with top marketing professionals for over 21 years now and I will bring all that experience to your project.

My fees are reasonable... not cheap, not expensive. A fair price for excellent work.

Give me a call when you have a chance and we can chat some more about your project.




The bottom line is comparing graphic designers really doesn't work. It's not like you want to buy an apple.

Designers have different graphic styles ( I have many styles.. but that's for another post) but what I feel that should be communicated is that I'm easy to work with, my fees are fair and reasonable but most importantly, my designs SELL.

That's what it's about. I take my marketing background and put it to use so that I'm not delivering just a pretty picture but a piece that makes my clients successful. If they succeed, they will give me more work and then I succeed. WIN-WIN!