If your answer is yes, consider it as a strong signal for necessary changes regarding your present business set up and practice.
Here are six tips that I personally practice, and adjust to on a continuous basis as my surroundings change. And since my focus is on sustainability, I'd like to share these tips in the hope it will increase your business-worth and give you more valued exposure.
" Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures. "- Einstein
1. BE INTERESTING
One who is catching attention!
To be able to set yourself apart from the competition, first and foremost you have to learn about your-own-self. Instead of blending in and get lost in the mainstream industry-standards, you have to allow your unique self to rise and discover your strengths. You deep down know where your passion and with that, strong points rest, so don't let circumstances, old fashion-norms, so-called guide-lines control them, rather invest and develop your uniqueness, and use them to your benefit. It does not matter if your strength is in technological or creative detail, or human interaction and so on, you need to focus on what comes easiest for you, and build, promote your design based business around that.
Adding sustainability knowledge to your design based business is an excellent way to:
- elevate your professional profile
- attract and work with suppliers who are committed to green- leadership, AND promote each-others accordingly
- communicate your responsible efforts on your website, speaking events to all your prospects
- create a niche market for yourself
Study your true competition to make sure your message and offerings always stay fresh, and ahead. If they are copying you, be proud, and smartly make prompt changes as needed.
2. SELL INVESTMENTS
Emotionally connecting with a client is key, especially in design based businesses. Listening carefully not only what the client specifies, but asking the right questions to truly understand their needs before they even realize them, is what great designers capable of and clients will call a good investment.
Make sure you list the biggest distinctive benefits your client will receive by choosing to work with you and your company, and especially highlight those they could not get from the competition. Do this by drawing attention to the positives you offer, but never talk negatively about competition.
Explain how you think for your clients, and list all problems you will SOLVE for them.
Don't forget to explain the investment in terms of quality, life expectancy, maintenance, warranty, and re-sale value.
- Make sure you explain your design and specifications as an investment, with huge attention to your clients' health: addressing Indoor Air Quality maintenance, Reduced Energy and Water usage and therefore lower operating expenses for your clients.
Proper communication is the least expensive, but most powerful and easiest investment you can do for your business. Be aware that, poor communication could seriously hurt your business, and would cost you a lot to off-set any damage. From day one, to long after the project is completed, good and continuous communication will not only keep reassuring your client that they made the right decision investing in you, but will also earn you respect; will inexpensively keep you on the 'map'; and will produce you a good return on your time investment by repeat clients and good referrals.
3. Don't be a Good Designer, BE A HIGH DEMAND DESIGNER
Clients seeking out your business will give you a true report card if you are a good designer or a great designer .
If you are a good designer, you will have plenty of quoting opportunity. However, how much of that you can secure as an order, might depend on too many variables. Price, product offerings, location, timing and so on. When any of these considerations are more important for a client, than wanting to specifically working with you,--- you'll know, there is still plenty of room improving your designer profile.
If you would like to set your own fee, and want to take on design work only on retainer that secure the project immediately, you need to be wanted, referred to, be interesting and one that delivers investment.
To achieve this, you must be consistent in your delivery; produce only satisfied clients by properly qualifying them in advance; embrace uniquely complex projects; never rest and settle in a comfort zone, but be in constant pursuit of new challenges and knowledge.
- Having a visible presence of Sustainable Design knowledge and its application in your portfolio, will demonstrate your socially responsible self, one who is not only focused on profit, but one who cares for his/her community and our planet
If you want to be a high demand designer, you must see and operate your business socially responsibly. In return, you will be rewarded with the right attention, and clients will even wait for you if your schedule is too busy at the moment. Becoming an expert in Sustainable Design is not only a designer's responsibility, but the way to compete now in the future.
4. Saying 'NO' part of MAINTAINING YOUR PROFESSIONALISM
Earning respect , the right respect, can give you wings.
Promising and saying 'yes' to everything, will not produce long-term respect. Know when, and how to say 'NO' when appropriate.
Yes, a great designer, a high-demand designer often find his/herself in the position must say 'NO' to their clients.
These 'NO'-s are highly appropriate to avoid over promising, and against a client request that could create unsafe results, danger, or risk to produce future difficulties and problems. Showing you know your job, and you are firm on and in control of a safe design outcome is what will prove your professionalism.
The beauty of these 'NO'-s are the power of earning the right respect, as long as you properly communicate your reason being your priority in protecting client's safety, interest, investment, and your future relationship with them.
Honesty, even if at the moment you know it might upset your client, is the only way to do business. Clients deserve to know what is going on with their project, even if you have to admit a mistake perhaps. Making promises that can't be guaranteed are the easiest way to loose client trust, and recovery is extra hard.
- Taking a green stand by carrying a specific product, or being committed to a certain installation method for environmental protection purposes, and properly explaining this to your client will guarantee to elevate your professional profile in the design field.
5. NETWORKING & SOCIAL MEDIA
Networking. Well, we all do it, but are we doing it right?
Time is precious, and we don't have enough. Time is also money, therefore where we invest it, either cost or profit us. The right networking is a cost-effective method, that will help build new business relationships and should generate new business opportunities at the same time. If you are member of a networking base, that does not provide ROI on your membership fee and/or time invested,- -hello--, it is time to reconsider, and look elsewhere!
Social Media is all about engagement, communicating, connecting, creating relationships, as well an excellent way of gaining feedback. If you communicate all your practices in above points, you will always have value to blog about. It helps generate new leads, build your brand, while be social and not sales-y :
- eg. you could blog about your eco-friendly tips, projects, associations with environmental professionals and so on
6. Remember: BEING PART of the DESIGN INDUSTRY IS ONLY HALF OF YOUR SUCCESS
Trustworthy referrals influence consumer's purchasing decision.
Don't overlook the importance of building relationships with unrelated groups and industries! Your client-potential is not only everywhere, but you have the best chance to increase demand for your services, where your competition isn't present ...yet.
Think of your preferred political, social, sport, charity, volunteering groups and so on, and offer your time, knowledge, and make a presence where it counts.
Do good when ever you can. If you are appreciated, you are at the right place.
Demonstrate through your work too, that you care for our environment, your family, local and global community's future.
Acting good creates good Karma.
Cheers to you getting more design projects, and with that contributing to our healthy and happy future!