The HeART of Design Business is a five-part series addressing the inner tensions artists feel as they face the creativity-sapping realities of running a business. Part one dealt with matters of money and finances, part two with measuring time, and in this third installment we’ll dig deep as we face the universally despised tasks of marketing, sales, and new business development.
Most owners of professional design practices would prefer to work on almost any other facet of their business than sales and lead generation—even the finances! Knocking on doors, as it were, is the last thing they want to do. But without a viable pipeline of opportunities, the business will eventually falter.
Outside of professional sales people, very few business owners relish the hunt for new business. And for artists, this effort is not just unpleasant, it drains all the creative energy right out of their souls. New business acquisition (or, more to the point, the lack thereof) is universally stressful.
Facing a meager, or empty, new business pipeline is a dreadful moment. And unfortunately, it usually takes dreadful moments like these to motivate design firm owners to start scrambling for new opportunities. This makes them desperate. And a desperate sales situation leads to some really bad deals. It invites unprofitable business with unqualified and often despotic clients.
Desperation can fill your pipeline with all kinds of bad opportunities, which will set you up for even more stress later.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Designers can cultivate a new business approach that, while still requiring discipline, can actually become a positive, affirming, and productive experience.
How Narrow Positioning Changes the Sales Experience
The fundamental prerequisite for changing the sales experience is to develop a well-crafted, sharply honed, positioning statement. Choosing a narrow position (limiting what you do, and who you do it for) sharpens your new business axe. It makes it easier for you to identify your market, and it makes you more effective in reaching that market. Additionally, it enables your prospects to easily verify your expertise—and as you will see this completely changes the sales experience.
Much more can be said about the importance of positioning, but I’m taking a different approach here—for more on positioning itself read my article The Sharp Edge of Positioning. What I want to describe and contrast here is the experience of selling from a generalist position compared to selling from a narrow specialized position.
On October 20th, from 6:30 pm 8: 00 pm EST, The HeART of Design Business series will be presented as a webinar through Rhode Island School of Design alumni relations. Fees: $12 RISD Alumni, CE Students + Public, Free for RISD Students. Register here.