Is there such a thing as a design job that’s too small?
Imagine a situation where the cost of a service bears little relationship to the perceived value (e.g., repairing a burst pipe, a leaking roof, a motorway breakdown?) Typical distress purchases where you just have to pay up (but hate parting with the cash).
Now consider the process of selecting design agencies for a new brand identity. This is definitely more valuable to the business, but likely to draw far more scrutiny regarding the price that is quoted.
The capability of the designer is a given, but the debating point becomes the perceived value of the service proposed. Why is this?
Many Clients seem to expect everything for nothing regarding the selection of a new design supplier, and yet other services don’t seem to attract the same level of analysis. Yes, any Yell.com Garage, Plumber or Roofer will do a perfectly acceptable job (and hopefully you won’t have to go back to them) but ongoing trust that the client wants to build with the Designer is much harder to relate to a cost.
For example, if an hourly studio rate of £50 is compared with the equivalent service priced at £150 is the client going to get a significantly better standard of quality from the work presented?
Perhaps it’s a sign of tough times in the design market that the brand identity tender for Creative England has attracted over 150 responses. The recently launched ‘regional support agency for independent film makers, TV, interactive, games and digital media industries’ is looking for a brand design, with a tender value of £5,000.
So 150 design agencies are chasing a piece of business worth £5,000? That seems to be a lot of designers in competition for an important piece of work for a modest price.
Does this say more about the prestige of the Client or the perceived chances of winning (among the eligible designers) than it does about the size of the pot?
Is this a common feature of regional designers competing fiercely for work? I’m sure shops located within the M25 would think twice about taking part- or is that assumption out of date?
Of course, all publicly funded organisations (such as Creative England) have to go through due process to ensure that they meet the requirements of competitive tendering, so perhaps this example is not indicative of a depressed market.
However, design agencies face these real situations every day, and the pitch costs incurred that end up being written off (by the losing 149) are a major impact on cash flow.
Cost recovery is a vital process for design businesses, and the measure of business won against business lost is an important ratio. How many designers know how to manage this, and can track their new business activity to ensure it stays within an acceptable safety margin?
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