lealea's blogblog

because it's nice to say it twice


6 Comments // Filed in Business

Working Unconsciously

After reading Seth Godin’s advice regarding brochures, I started thinking about how many businesses — our online industry included — throw so much money and time on things that don’t actually help their business or their clients, and instead merely contribute to noise. Or worse, they don’t throw enough money and time on things that do help.

These are symptoms of companies working unconsciously. It’s saying and doing things without thought. It’s being a corporate zombie.

It’s making decisions without asking or knowing why.

On Auto-pilot

As a small business owner myself, I’m amazed at how little respect people give their own business. Yes, I say it’s a lack of respect for their own business because it’s making snap decisions not based on actual research. It’s not caring enough to do research. It’s also about being “safe” and frankly, there’s no place in an innovative business for that type of caution. It’s really a selfish way to run your business.

I find it sad because a lot of people aren’t even aware they are doing this. They are on auto-pilot.

Trash Triggers

If you are trying to be clever, be clever and unique. If you aren’t sure if something you are trying is unique, it probably isn’t. That said, the value of clever is that it might give me a chuckle. It won’t help you accomplish whatever you are trying to get done, only substance will do that… One thing that will immediately kill your chances is if you send me junk. Don’t send me a golf shirt, a coffee mug, a pen, a flashlight, or anything for that matter. It’s all junk to me and it only makes me wonder why you spent time and money on junk rather than on selling more of whatever it is you sell so you won?t need money.
Mark Cuban, Getting My Attention

Emphasis mine. Does anything more really need to be said?

Wake up!

As a design professional, I urge other professionals to encourage their clients or their bosses to rethink some marketing choices. Perhaps instead of investing in a brochure, custom thank you cards with a personal note may be more effective. Perhaps if it is a brochure, that it’s only a limited-edition, highly designed and specially printed piece with a specific target, instead of an “all-in-one” solution where we squish 5 pages of copy and photos into 8.5” x 11” space. Perhaps only a business card with your website URL is all you need — it saves them money and paper.

The moment we begin focussing on the why before we get to the hows and whats, the better everyone’s business will be.


6 blabs to Working Unconsciously

Add something to the conversation!

I totally agree. Our job as designers does not stop with just the making. We’re responsible for working with the client to decide what to make. We’re getting paid to push back and to councel. Obviously there are both good and bad ways of doing it, but it should be done if needed.

If we refuse to confront the client and put better solutions on the table, both parties lose and we’ve provided a poor service.

Picture of Dave

Name Dave

Date Mar 29
06:10 AM

yah yah…I think the critical realization is that you have to ensure that you collateral actually makes some kind of connection with someone. It drives me nuts when I see stuff that’s done to “check things off the marketing list”, as if that somehow gets them off the hook.

Rant! Rant! :-)

Picture of Sugar

Name Sugar

Date Mar 29
01:31 PM

You should have seen the situation in the budding internet market of Greece.

Clients don’t have any kind of respect for your work, making you do insane things over and over, consuming precious time and effort.

And nobody undertakes the task of informing the clientele and actually educating them about the whereabouts of this work.

It’s really, really sad.

Great advice Lea – I evangelize this daily in my networking and consulting. Every business, especially smaller ones, must rethink strategies in marketing based on current trend research, and those who do will simply be forgotten. While our products are still important, there are so many of the same product to choose from. Businesses require that extra “personalization” in each marketing piece they plan.

If you have no face to your name today, you are way behind. I love how Yaro put it in his “Advertisers Delimma“. Bottom line = Become my friend.

That is the key.

Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Mar 30
10:30 PM

The main problem is that too many designers either:

a) are afraid to question the requests of their clients,

b) don’t know how to approach their clients in a respectful and convincing manner, or

c) have had a bad experience trying to convince clients on their point of view.

“A” tends to be a confidence issue, especially rampant in newbies. This can naturally evolve after more time in the industry.

“B” is a communications issue, and what helps is referring to business veterans the best way to coax clients in a pleasant and professional manner. Be assertive, but not necessarily demanding. Also, learning how to write helps as well.

With “C” it’s the typical fear of failure, as it’s already hadn’t worked before in the past, and so why try now? It’s a pretty common attitude, a tad defeatist — people should learn not to give up at the first sign of resistance. Often, level-headed clients are willing to hear a thoughtful, opposing viewpoint if defended properly and if it fit their goals best.

However, there are times where it’s best to stand down. It’s a balancing act for sure. I hope that more professionals at least try to be more conscious about all decisions they make, including the ones they’re making for their clients.

I’m in the process of re-designing my professional web site to replace the ugly place-holder page that’s up right now. One of the things I’m adding is an RFP form which will include the question “What are you planning to accomplish with your web site, and why?”

I figure this may scare off some non-serious prospects, and the ones who stay but give fuzzy answers to the question get the benefit of my guidance. :-)


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