Thom Bennett - Website and graphic design

Thom
Bennett

Website & graphic design

info@tbgd.co.uk
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Use Competition As An Opportunity

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Competition is neither good nor bad. It just is. There are creative businesses, large and small that do what you do on a macro scale. They take pictures, supply design of all kinds (event, interior, graphic), sell cakes, and even light your rooms. You can look at the world as bountiful (ie, more than enough to go around) or zero-sum (what I get, you do not and vice-versa). It does not matter. Your competition will still be there and your clients will compare you to them. The real question is how do you want to be compared?

Nothing is more disheartening to me than to see a creative business owner using some business 101 course to try to make their business the shiniest apple in the group. They miss the whole point of creative business. Using competition to show how your creative business is better apples to apples only makes room for an orange. If you spend your time honing your packages, pricing, even how your site/blog/twitter/facebook looks and sounds to stand out in the crowd, you are—by definition—wringing out what makes you, your art and your creative business singularly unique.

I am not a marketing expert at all. My strength is not in figuring out how to get people to find you. My gift is to create and structure a creative business to best serve clients when they arrive. It may very well be true that the best strategy to get people to your door is to say, “Hey, I’m like that other guy, only better.” However, once they show up, telling a client that you work just like the other guy, only better, makes no sense to me. Why is it that you take a 50% deposit when your client has not seen anything yet? Literally do nothing with the six or so months you have a client, making it all about the deliverable, forgetting about the process entirely? Take commissions? Deliver a proposal first? Because this is the industry standard? The way it is done? What clients expect? The industry standard is an oxymoron, there is no “way” it is done, and clients’ expectations are solely a function of those you set for them.

You cannot use competition to do the work of running your creative business for you. The beauty and value of a creative business is its willingness to stand alone in all that it does. If other creative businesses do it your way, so be it. Just please do not let it be the other way around without truly owning it as yours.

The awesomeness of competition is that it gives you the opportunity to really stand apart. You will earn your clients’ respect (and business) with your story. Those that do not believe (or value) your story are not your clients. The irony of looking like the shiniest apple is that you actually make it harder for the right clients to hear your story. We all know the hornet’s nest serving the wrong client creates and the frustration when the right client walks out the door. Clients today (always?) are laser-sharp in their ability to read right through window dressing in a sea of sameness. If you are going to make clients do the work to figure out what you really do, why should they pay you for it? You all look like apples to them. Better to figure out why you are a great orange, be able to communicate the value they get by choosing your orange and making sure you deliver the best orange possible. There is just no competition for that.

Cover and top image (CC) by Simon Blackley via Flickr

This is a cross-post from The Business of Being Creative.

Sean Low is the Founder and President of The Business of Being Creative, a consulting firm focused on providing practical advice to those in the business of being creative. Prior to founding The Business of Being Creative, Sean spent six years as the President of Preston Bailey Design, Inc. representing Preston in his business endeavors around the world. Sean has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his twenty years of business experience ranges from law, investment banking, financial executive to small business owner.

View more at:
http://www.designtaxi.com/article/101733/Use-Competition-As-An-Opportunity/

Competition is neither good nor bad. It just is. There are creative businesses, large and small that do what you do on a macro scale. They take pictures, supply design of all kinds (event, interior, graphic), sell cakes, and even light your rooms. You …