I don't know what it was like at your house, but by a week past Easter, the only thing left in our baskets were the black jelly beans. My brother and I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole, favoring the chocolate treats first, then the marshmallows, then any other color jelly bean besides black. However, there is merit to those black jelly beans. They're sweet and tasty to the right person. In fact, if there's a person in your house who loves black jelly beans, they make out like a bandit every year. I started thinking about this concept with regards to how much the design and marketing industry has changed over the course of the recession.
Only a few years ago, money was flowing more easily. Fabulous and interesting projects with juicy budgets showed up at my door neatly wrapped in pretty little baskets all the time. I didn't have to do much to find them. But in the last three years, those juicy projects have grown much harder to find. They're not neatly wrapped at my front door, rather they are hidden under bushes and behind trees and and they're not nearly as neatly wrapped, either. A sign of the times, I know, but distressing all the same.
What does continue to show up at my front door however, are the smaller projects with the smaller budgets. New clients who may have recently been laid off and are now trying to start their own businesses on a shoestring. Everyone is trying to figure out a way to get by until things improve. I can relate. And I really love working with these kinds of clients. I love jumping in with them as they're just getting started and helping them come up with a great way to market their business or product. Problem is, how do I offer a great service to these clients that is within their sometimes very small budget, and still make enough to pay my own bills?
The way I ran my business before was based on working with clients with large budgets. I have always liked to work with a new business or a business that was going through a rebranding, but typically these clients had reasonable to big budgets to fulfill the needs of the project. These days however, it seems all clients have drastically reduced their spending. What to do?
Rethink the business model
While there are businesses out there that offer graphic design for pennies, it's still not feasible for me to work with a client that has almost no money to spend. But if the client values a partner with experience good design and creative marketing, then we're talking. I have created new systems and services which streamline my process and give the client something that they can afford that gets them started with a great new brand and website to be proud of.
- Streamlined logo development
- Template websites
- Email marketing
- Social media plans
- Do-it-yourself website maintenance
- Do-it-yourself SEO development
Working with these clients is usually a lot of fun too. They're excited about their new business they are full of energy and have high hopes for their new life. Those black jelly beans are actually really fabulous. I don't know why I didn't notice earlier.