Tip for getting more design projects!
Success in life and in business may look simple and easy on the outside; however, you usually only see just a glimpse, a snapshot if you will, of a point in time after the struggle to become successful. Usually this is at the tail end of long, tough journey to get to the point where it looks easy on the outside. The fact of the matter is that success is usually takes years of hard work and sacrifices. Many people have asked me how I was able to survive the recession and how I rebuilt my firm after this and other setbacks. The simple answer is hard work.
When I was faced with the decision of closing my young firm or doing the work to rebuild it. I chose to work to rebuild it. I also chose to not make the same mistakes that got me in that situation to begin with. My first question after committing to rebuilding my firm was what do I need to do to get more design projects?
The simple answer was marketing. I decided to do the work and learn about marketing and spent the next three years learning marketing techniques and the best strategies to market in the “New Economy”. This is something that I was never taught in school and thought I didn’t know. Actually I knew a lot more about marketing than I thought I did, I just didn’t know the fancy names or all the theory behind it.
My first question, as yours might be, was “what can I do now to get more design projects?” This was my first quest into the world of marketing. It was a very tactical, strategic and frantic search because I really needed to get some work in the pipeline and some projects on the boards ASAP. In all of my work reading, time spent in seminars and in classes the number one common thing about getting more design projects is exposure. Exposure comes in many different forms but it boils down to this. If people don’t know you exist then they won’t or can’t hire you. There are many different elements to a strategic and effective marketing plan but these are all focused on one thing, on getting you and your message out there. The more people and contacts you make the more opportunities you will have to get hired or referred on to someone needing your services.
After I got over skepticism and disbelief that the secret to getting more design projects was as simple as increased exposure. I took along hard look at how I was getting exposure in the market place. What I found sickened me. During the initial years in my young firm where I spent all my time working on client projects and generating billable hours, thinking I was doing the right thing, I was slowly killing my firm. I did this by sinking all of time into servicing my existing projects and no time generating new ones. I had been working in my business not working on my business.
Looking back I realized that my circle of contacts and referral partners slowly got smaller and smaller as time passed. I hadn’t created any new relationships or contacts in years because I was so focused on servicing my existing clients. I needed to reconnect with all of my previous contacts, reestablish and cultivate those relationships. More importantly, I had to find ways to expand my circle of contacts and create new relationships.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the principles in most successful small design firms spend a significant amount (60-80%) of their time generating new leads, prospects and getting more design projects. I was spending, maybe 5% of my time on these activities and my balance sheet showed the sad truth. I took the lessons I learned to heart and now spend more and more of my time marketing, networking and working hard to get more exposure in the marketplace. These efforts have paid off, I learned how to get more design projects and we have a steady flow of projects in the office and we returned to profitability.
Are you working in your business and not on your business? Do you want to get more strategic effective exposure for your business? Do you want to get more design projects?