Judging Clients by Their Wallets

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screengrab from the flying lizards' cover of "money."

At Harvard Business Review, Anthony K. Tjan shows some good ideas for growing and modulating your customer base to maximize revenue against your investment in a client work. His initial conversation is with a retail owner, which is obviously pretty different from the design business, but as I read this it occurred to me that there are nuggets of information the design business can use.

Clearly design budgets are changing rapidly, as we see many different ways of buying design emerge, uncovering markets which never would have previously invested in design—but how does the established design studio take advantage of smaller projects without cannibalizing larger accounts? By modulating effort.

The overall concept is pretty simple—accounts should be sold based on price point. A lot of us go into our work offering custom design, and that’s about it. What if you change this so that below a certain price point, you rely more upon pre-designed solutions, like pieces you keep in your back pocket, pre-architected site wireframes, or purchased site templates that you then alter? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a design studio actually do that, even though it seems sensible to do so.

It sounds a little counter to what we’re usually taught we should be doing—you know, the “special snowflake” school of thought on design—and this won’t be as weird an idea to younger designers who’ve always had access to prebuilt tools to modify. Anyway, just a thought—read the original article for more insights into expanding (and sometimes contracting!) your clientele.