Too often, the pesky ‘making money’ part of business interferes with the ‘pursuing my passion’ part. We all love wowing the customer with the amazing things our products and services can produce, but finding them and convincing them to pick us over the other 200 options is a real drag.
In my past life at enterprise CRM software provider Onyx, we frequently lamented that customers would always pick us over Siebel, Oracle, … if they could just see the finished results of each of our solutions ahead of time. That would have saved us hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in selling, and we would have had a much high win rate. Kind of like, “We’ll ship you the Sleep-O-Matic Mattress for free to use for 30 days. Have Comfy Springs and Heavenly Sleep do the same thing. Keep and pay for the one you like.”
Alas the complexity of consulting services and customer involvement in deployment made this impossible, but in the Design world, it can and does work marvelously. The traditional and crowdsourced means of winning design business will both thrive, with some obvious advantages and disadvantages to each.
Traditional Design – First, find prospects through word of mouth, advertising, networking, etc., spend time showing them your portfolio, providing references, doing some basic proof of concept work, and preparing a bid. Then, once you’ve won the business, perform the design work and earn a healthy fee. Even the very best are hard pressed to win more than half the business they pitch, so 2 – 5 days a month are typically spent engaged in selling – and not design.
Crowdsourced Design – Pick a project from a big list on the web that looks interesting and winnable, and do it. Then submit your work and hope for the best. Now the win rates will be significantly lower, as will the fees for the work, but there are two huge considerations here.
- You are spending 100% of your time doing your passion – designing
- There are a lot of very talented designers leveraging crowdsourcing that could never otherwise work for themselves because they simply cannot do the ‘selling themselves’ part.
Rather than take my word for it, we twittered with Jason Aiken at 99designs to get the scoop on how crowdsourcing is enhancing the design marketplace.
Talented Designers will see this as yet another channel for their amazing gifts. However, as with most new disruptive technologies and methodologies, there are some people that view crowdsourcing as a threat. Given how often those of us in the business respond to this concern, I think it’s useful to include the content of one of my posts from March:
Another Inefficient Market Meets Crowdsourcing
It seems that no matter how many times history plays out the hand dealt to inefficient markets, the next inefficient market to be assailed wails in protest. Jeff Howe’s article on Crowdsourcing in graphics and design, discusses the reaction from many designers to this discount approach to their core business. What I take from the group of designers who’ve formed the group called NO!SPEC, is that they would have resisted stock trading through anything but a paid broker, or insisted that home sale transactions always be charged a 6% realtor fee rather than have the option to get similar services for less through a website.
It’s crazy that folks don’t look at the markets that bloom around the growth which happens when inefficiencies are eliminated. Turns out that stock brokers didn’t go out of business, but rather provide value added services to a market of American investors that is 10 times the percentage it was pre-online trading (less than 5% to over 50% of Americans). This huge increase in the market and volume has increased the need for professional help.
As a startup software company, our limited budgets at the beginning only enabled us to pay for ‘logo’ work rather than the real design overhaul that only a professional can deliver (doesn’t do much good to have a professional design if you then can’t afford to the production graphics work to execute on it). So, instead of getting this seriously value added service, we paid through the nose for a few logos that in the end did not really coalesce into a nice U.I. Now, we can simply Smartsource* that kind of work out for a few dollars apiece once the pros create our branded design and layout. We’re paying the high margin fees to those folks that actually have differentiated talent instead of pittering away lesser fees on one of the graphics-space saturating multitudes.
There is no need for graphic designers to panic. By making the access to truly commodity graphics services very cheap and efficient, the budgets available for the skilled work that can never be commoditized will increase. That’s all good.