What’s the cost of not being digi-savvy?

An article I read in The Independent also asked the same question. It seems as though the idea of creating and owning a digital presence is seeping more and more into mainstream. Some of you reading this will think I’m stating the obvious. And you’re probably someone who spends a lot of your time in the digital space. But, it’s easy for us lot to forget that there are masses out there who’s only foray into the digital space is checking their Facebook page once a month. And even then they don’t post anything, they just have a peek about. They don’t engage.

These people are in their thousands. And, I’m going to push the boat out here: I’d be prepared to bet that most of them are either over 50 or employees. Employees, it seems, are the least likely to be digital savvy. Why? Because they have a cushy job. And because they have a cushy job, they don’t feel the need to connect with others in the digital space, because they get to do it at work. But also, their cushy job gives them very little time to explore, play and discover all this new stuff that’s happening online. And, their employers have probably banned access to most of the social sites.

When you run your own business or are a freelancer, connecting online is an essential part of business. So being digi-savvy is crucial. Big brands are a bit late to the party here, but they’ve been able to trade on their brands’ awareness for a bit to buy them some time to watch and learn. Now they’ve realised that if they’re not online, then they can’t assume that it’s business as usual. But how long will it take individuals to get digi-savvy.

A fact I’ve already mentioned is relevant again: in 2017 all 400,00 of IBM’s staff will become contractors. The implications of this for employees is staggering. The time will soon come when most workers will be freelance and be hired on a contract basis. So how are they going to get hired? Well, it’s not from having a polished CV and really nice chap at the recruitment agency to talk to. NO. It will be from being well connected in the digital space and being visible. But more importantly, for being known for something.

So, individuals had better smarten up at working out what their uniqueness is, and getting themselves noticed for it. And in the words of @thomaspower, because, if they don’t, they’ll starve

1 Comment

The rise of the digital coach?

Yesterday I attended a session run by Ecademy’s Thomas Power. They’re in the middle of recruiting what they’re calling Digital Coaches for their Ecademy Digital School.

Digital Coach is a term that was coined by Seth Godin in few years back. I’ve only recently come across it. If it sounds new to you, then let me take a few moments to share with you how they define such a person;

• A digital coach teaches you how to do things digital and how to get those things done.

• They help you to use value and optimise Twitter, Facebook, Ecademy, YouTube, LinkedIn etc

• A digital coach understands the difference between personal branding and company branding

• A digital coach is a friend, ally, support service, professional lifesaver, protector and brand guardian.

• They are someone who is a companion and change agent who helps businesses transition and benefit from the Digital World.

During the session Thomas spent a lot of time delivering a very clear message:

if you do not define yourself you will starve

If you can’t define yourself, then other people won’t be able to either. And, if they can’t, then they can’t recommend or refer you. Bummer eh? But you know what? Working that out isn’t a quick process. I have the T-shirt!

Thomas shared a great quote from Penny during the session

“Network value happens when others talk about you when you’re not there”

This quote is very similar to another great quote by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not there”

So, what we’re talking about here is the same thing, we just can’t agree on a good name for it.

The old adage, it’s not what you know it’s who you know has never been more relevant than today. Thomas rammed this point home several times. Generation Zero have grown up having hundreds of friends, connections and followers. For them, having a network of people who know them for being them is natural. It’s everyone else who needs to worry. Everyone else needs to start thinking about growing their network. Not only that, they need to ensure that their network know who they are. And by this I mean, know what they stand for and what they can be relied on. Oh look! Now we’re back to branding!

So, both Penny and Jeff are talking about the same coin, just different sides. Yes, you need to know what you stand for and can be relied upon for, but then you need to leverage the power of the network. And today, that network is online. If you’re not engaging and publishing online, then you’re not visible. If you’re not visible, then you won’t be chosen.

Oh dear!

And that’s where Digital Coaches come in. They can help you to both these things and walk with you on the path to discovering and defining who you are.

If you’re reading this and thinking “I’m an employee not a freelancer or a business owner, I don’t need to worry about this sort of thing”

WRONG!

Just ponder this; in 2017 all of IBM’s 400,00 employees will become suppliers. How do you think that is going to affect other employees?

In the current climate of austerity and cutbacks, many businesses are moving to using contractors and virtual teams, so now more than ever, defining yourself clearly is a matter of survival.

Have you defined yourself?

If you want to have a chat about discovering and defining YOUR brand, give me a call!

1 Comment

What’s authenticity got to do with onions?

We’re a lot more like onions than you think. Yes. Really.

If you’ve recently started working for yourself, one of the challenges you’re likely to come across is finding your true voice, your authentic self. Connecting to who you really are and what you really want is not always a straightforward process. One thing I have realised working with my clients is that the people that find it the hardest are those that were working in corporate environments that didn’t encourage them to be themselves. They’d spent so long trying to change who they were to fit in that they lost site of who they really are. This might have been because the organisational values and theirs were not aligned, or maybe they were doing a job that didn’t fulfil them or make use of their talents and strengths. Whatever the reason, once you’re free of the corporate machine you’re next biggest task is to do decide what to do next. And in doing so you’ll need to define yourself. In other words; develop your personal brand.

In making your next move, the chances are that you’ll use the online space to do so. Whether it’s on LinkedIn, ecademy or if you end up with your own site or blog. If you’re going to present yourself online, you’re going to need to make a call as to how you want to appear and what you want to say about yourself. That’s in addition to being clear about what you’re trying to achieve so that you know who you’re trying to talk to.

So, back to onions… like onions, when we’re an employee in a hostile environment we develop a thick skin to protect ourselves. It protects us nicely from the dirt that surrounds us; you know the politics, the falsities and all the other corporate BS. Then, when we get plucked free, the bit that people really want is the juicy fleshy bit. But to get to that, we need to shed a few layers first. How many layers will depend on how hostile corporate life was. Over to you Shrek…

Shedding these layers can take quite some time. I know personally, it took me well over a year to find my true voice. And believe me, the journey isn’t over!

The thing is, once you’re well on the way to finding your story you are blessed with the ability to really carve out a niche for yourself. Because in discovering your authentic self comes with it a renewed sense of confidence. This confidence enables you to inject your personality into what you do in a way that you’ve not done before. And once you get to do that, you’re on the road to uniqueness. The one thing that you can be sure of is that no-one else has got your personality. So, no matter what you end up doing for a living, if you do it YOUR way, then you will be unique and stand out from others. One of my favourite examples of this is Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth

Once you do this you will naturally attract others with similar values to you, which means you’ll probably enjoy working and being with them. And when you get to that, work doesn’t feel like work. And that my friend is success!

1 Comment

3 reasons why you should NEVER use video on your site

1. Your livelihood does not depend on selling you as an individual.

So you might be an employee with a guaranteed job for life who sits behind a screen all day with no need to interact with anyone, ever.

Or, you’ve made your millions and spend your days either re-arranging your vast collection of fast cars around the estate, deciding where to berth your yacht next or pestering your butler for another Cristal.

If on the other hand, you’re in the business of selling you, (and who isn’t?) then video is an absolute MUST for your site.

There’s an even narrower list of people who ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY need to have video on their site. And these are those folk that are in the people business where your business is essentially you and your clients or customers interact with you directly. I’m talking to you entrepreneurs, business owners, consultants, coaches, trainers, speakers, mentors, PA/VA’s, therapists, counsellors, actors, porn stars, etc… you see where this is going?

2. You don’t want to progress in your work, earn more money or grow your business.

This is perfectly reasonable. With the planet running out of resources and space, buying & selling more things and using up more stuff is clearly going to end in trouble. So good for you by not wanting to contribute to the inevitable disaster that’s heading our way.

3. You’ve got 2 heads and think that people may be put off working with you.

This is wholly understandable, and to be quite frank, you should probably seek professional help.

2 Comments

Don’t hire a Personal Branding Pro until you’ve answered these 5 questions

If you’ve considered hiring a professional to help you manage your personal brand, there are some things to bear in mind.

Personal brand management involves considering all aspects of your personal brand: your strengths, your results, your appearance, your knowledge and experience, your objectives and all collateral about you in the media - in the press and online. Large companies hire Brand Managers to manage their brands so why shouldn’t you?

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before you decide whether you need the help of a Personal Brand Manager, Consultant, Advisor or Coach.

1. Do you have what it takes?

Managing your personal brand requires a strategic approach, a plan and knowledge & experience of the various aspects of brand management. If you happen to be an ex-Brand Manager then you are very well suited to managing your personal brand. But if you’re not then you might find yourself having to learn many new skills and ways of working. These new skills and habits may be in conflict with your natural style.

2. Can you afford to be distracted?

Too much workManaging your personal brand is no small task. Depending on your line of work and your levels of activity, your personal brand management could be quite time consuming. Surely your main focus should be on what you do and doing it well, and not managing your personal brand. It’s all very well coming up with great plans, the real magic is in their timely execution. Your personal brand will suffer if there isn’t a consistent approach.

3. Do you know what you want to achieve and what’s possible?

Clarity around your goals is an important aspect of managing your personal brand. But equally important is knowing what’s possible. You may be familiar with what leaders in your field are doing, but by copying them you are not going to stand out. You need to be aware with what leading people outside your field are doing.

guardian angel4. Who’s keeping an eye on you?

It can be all too easy to come up with big plans for developing your personal brand. And, it can be even easier not to follow through. After all, if you’re doing it yourself, who’s going to find out? Right? Wrong! Who’s there to push you and keep you to task? Having a great team around you is more likely to lead to success.


pot-o-gold5. What are you missing out on?

Have you taken the time to consider how much you personal brand might be worth in the future? Do you know how your brand is worth now? Let’s say that that you’re brand is currently worth £60K (what you are able to earn in a year). Your future brand might be worth £500K. If mismanaged, you may take a lot longer to get there, if at all! Is it really worth not getting outside help to get you there?

2 Comments

The 5 perils of personal branding

We can safely say that when the topic of personal branding comes up that most people would agree that it’s a good thing, and if they had the time or inclination, they would probably get round to sorting out their personal brand.

But, is it? Are there any perils with starting such a journey? There are a lot of things in life that start out as a good idea that turn out to be a monumental disaster. Like putting up your party pics on facebook, only to discover that a director at work has seen them and now you’re not getting that promotion. Doh! Now I’m not saying that developing your personal brand is in that league, far from it. But what I am saying is that there are considerations, and you should be aware of them before you jump in.

High visibility high_vis_jacket

Remember the whole point behind personal branding. It’s to stand out and be noticed. You want work to come to you, and not vice versa. But, raising your visibility stakes means, you guessed it - you’re going to get noticed! So, are you happy with that? You may be some quiet shrew who’s damn good at what you do, but you prefer to hide behind your desk. Imagine spending the day wearing a high-vis jacket, does that sit well with you? And, more importantly, can you keep it up?

Transparency

glass-of-water

Developing your personal brand is a beautiful process of self-discovery. For a truly authentic personal brand, you’ll need to work out who you are and what you stand for. Then, you’ll need to be that and stand for it consistently. If you don’t, you’ll be betraying your brand (otherwise known as brand suicide). Some personal branders talk about persona being a crucial part of the personal branding equation. I think this wrongly creates the impression that you have a “persona” and a “real you”. By the way, if you look up persona you’ll get words like role, character, mask, actor etc. These are not words that talk about transparency and authenticity.

Accountability

Devising and launching your personal brand is a big step. It’s a sign you mean business. As a part of the process you would have identified personal goals and ambitions. After all, your brand will be there to support you in achieving these. So, now you’ve put your stake in the sand, you’ve got to be seen to be delivering. You’re accountable. Are you ready to be accountable?

Keeping it up

man_lift_weightsThe need for consistency cannot be underestimated. As with business brands, a personal brand needs to be reinforced and maintained. Consistently, both in terms of the message that you’re putting out there and the regularity by which you deliver that message. It’s hard work. It’s called brand management not brand laissez faire for a reason.

Conflict with employer

Now, for some this is not relevant. But for bundles of you it is. How does your brand fit your employer’s brand. If you’re all about the outdoors, high energy, risk taking, and you work in an accountant’s firm, there might be a slight mismatch. Some companies will only be interested in you being an employee if you reflect the corporate brand. While other businesses may be up for allowing you to be YOU. So, beware of being authentic too soon as it might put you out of a job!

No Comments

6 easy steps to Brand Building using Twitter

The thing with Twitter is, you’re either on the bus, or you’re not. Those that aren’t think it’s just a passing fad and don’t really understand it. But, it’s becoming increasingly important as part of any brand building strategy.

In a recent article, out of the 100 most mentioned brands on Twitter, less than half have a Twitter account. And, some of those aren’t really making the most of their presence.

It seems crazy to think that there’s a whole heap of conversations going on about these brands in the twitterverse and these brands aren’t even listening, let alone participating. You can bet your last dollar that if these conversations were happening in print, they’d be watching, reading and taking notes. But here, they choose to ignore.

So, if you are one of those brands that is not taking part in the twitterverse, you’re probably wondering where to start. So here’s my beginner’s guide to brand building with Twitter in 6 easy steps.

1. Clarify your objective!
You must first decide on what basis you are going to participate. Is it to enhance your brand story and add personality, or is it for customer services? Are you going to have just the one twitter account or are you going to encourage employees to tweet. Word of warning with the latter: make sure this is part of a wider social media strategy that permeates the business so that everyone concerned is clear on best practices. Reputations can be destroyed online in seconds, both personal and corporate.

2. Decide on the nature of your tweets
It may be worth having some guidelines in place as to the sorts of things that your brand will tweet about. It’s not about sell, sell, sell, but about listen, engage, listen, and engage. So how are you going to engage? And, when you listen, how will you respond? There are 6 main types of tweet;
a. Brand news
b. Customer support
c. Feedback
d. Special offers
e. Interesting info or resources
f. Random thoughts

You will need to be clear as how you will employ each of these and if you will actually use all of them. Some say, it’s best to reserve using the last one for personal brands. But, if random titbits is part of your brand story then why not?

3. Register your brand name twitter profile
Make sure you pick something that sounds right. You may want to use your name to reinforce your brand message in some way.

4. Create your Twitter page
Use the background to display your brand assets and key brand messages. You might want to use the profile pic to display your logo. Some brands put a pic of the person managing the account. This reinforces the personal nature of twitter and can be a good tactic if twitter is a key strand of your customer services strategy.

5. Allocate resource to maintain your twitter account.
There’s nothing worse for a brand than lack of consistency and the same applies here. The person who’s job it is to manage your twitter account must be very clear on the brand values and proposition. Twitter can enhance your brand if used correctly. It can also destroy.

6. Listen, listen, listen
I know, I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s a biggie. It’s important to track what is being said in the twitterverse, so make sure that your twitterer is using an application that allows you to keep track of your brand mentions. It’s also a good idea to listen to what’s being said about your competitors as well as your product/service category. You could pick up some great ideas for new product development or service improvements.

No Comments

Finding your personal brand

There are lot of articles about on personal branding, with the majority talking about how important it is to have a personal brand. The rest of them talk about all the ways that you can increase the visibility of your personal brand in the online environment. But, before any work can be done to raise your profile, you need to be clear as to what your brand is. And working it out is not always straightforward. Well sure, it sounds straightforward when you talk about it

“… a personal brand is a blend of your strengths, personality, passion, values and goals….”

Working all that out takes quite a bit of time and effort. Let me just look at each one of these in turn.

Strengths
How many of us know our strengths? If you’ve been through corporate training, it’s likely that you’ve been subjected to a Myers Briggs profiling or similar. So, for you guys, it’s a bit easier. But for the rest of you, identifying your strengths can be difficult. Why?

  • We don’t always realise that we’re good at something, because for us, it’s natural. We don’t know what we know. Often, it takes someone else to spot our talent.
  • We’re usually much better at identifying our weaknesses.

It’s always worth starting a list on your own, but ask your friends, family and colleagues for their comments. You’ll probably have a few surprises: things that weren’t on your list, and those that were that are questioned. Be prepared for this

Personality
This is an interesting one. I bet that if we were to do a straw poll, we’d find that our ideas about our personality are not that close to the reality. Do whining negative people consider themselves to be so? You might think you’re confident, but others think of you as arrogant. You get the picture. This is one aspect of personal branding that is crucial to get some outside help with. After all, your personal brand is how others perceive you, and your personality is the crux of this. So, again, ask friends, family and colleagues for some hints.

Passion
What are you passionate about? Do you know? Understanding your passion is mega mega important! It could even be the key to your personal brand. If you spend more time than is healthy taking photographs of roundabouts, then you might have hit upon a niche. A niche whereby you could become an expert. Think of Gavin Pretor-Pinney who just loved looking at and taking pictures of clouds. He went on to form The Cloud Appreciation Society and is now a recognised expert in the cloud world. His book, The Cloud Spotter’s Guide, was a best seller.

Values
Your values are those things that are really important to you in life. Things like recognition, honesty, health, love and achievement. You probably have a clear idea of your values. If not, just ask yourself “what has been really important to me in my life?”. Some people find they have around 5 values, while others have five times that. If you have that many, you need to be clear about what the top ones are though, as these are the invisible drivers in your life. The things that control your behaviour, whether you like it or not. So you may as well be aware of them.

Goals
If you were to ask around, you’ll probably find that most people have dreams not goals. The difference? Goals have actions and timelines against them. The other thing about goals is that they are reviewed regularly so you can track your progress. The level at which you decide to clarify your goals is up to you. Some people give themselves a couple of goals to achieve over a few years, while others have 1, 5 and 10-year plans with goals for each sector of their life (financial, relationship, career etc). So, wherever you want to be on this scale, just make sure you’re on it. Because if you’re not, your personal brand is a going to have a great big hole in it.

Having said all this, the key thing to understand is that your personal brand isn’t what you want to project; it’s what others perceive. So a high level of self -awareness is important because no matter what, you will need to be consistent in the application of your personal brand. As with great consumer brands, consistency is key. Your brand represents the promise that you’re making to help others to understand what to expect from you. You keep changing and people won’t know what to expect, and they’ll go elsewhere.

So, have you figured out your personal brand?

No Comments

Personal Branding: Should the brand be my business or me?

Last weekend I ran a session on Personal Branding at MediaCamp Nottingham. This question came up and prompted a bit of debate. Even into the pub at lunch! Should our brand be our business or ourselves? Or both? And how do they fit together?

One point that I am very fussy about in this debate is the need to understand what your goals and objectives are before embarking on finding the solution. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve you can’t possibly make a judgement as to what the most appropriate route may be. Think of Alice in Wonderland asking the Cheshire Cat for directions. If you don’t know where you’re heading, you can take any route you want.

What do you want?
So, how does your business fit in with your overall goals and objectives? Is your business a vehicle for you to achieve your own goals? (i.e. sell up and sit on a beach) Or is it just a way for you to carry on doing what you love? Depending on the answer, these two businesses could be very different. The first could be a unique service that you’ve identified that fulfils a gap and you think could be incredibly viable. The second could be an extension of you and your expertise. So, how we approach branding the two will be very different depending on your own goals and ambitions.

How do businesses do it?snf1203ma_370813a
In any business where a parent brand exists over a number of other brands, the parent brand, like human parents, have things in common with their offspring. They don’t have everything in common, but there are key themes. For example, parent brands such as Mars, Audi have key values that set them apart. And, these values are present in their offspring, but new ones may be brought in depending on the product or category. For Audi, it’s sportiness and performance. We could think of these as settings on your sound system. So, within the Audi family, the TT’s branding has turned the sportiness setting up to max even though performance is still important. For the A4 it’s the performance that’s been turned up.

I don’t want to get too trapped into business thinking though because we’re humans and we’re very different from businesses. But there’s a lot for us to borrow and learn from business.

As people, we have many interests and experiences. As time goes on, our experiences increase and our interests may change. But the constant is our essence. The bit about us that is us. And this bit, our essence, undoubtedly encapsulates our values and beliefs. So when trying to work out your personal brand, you will need to make a decision about which bits about you you’re going to use to enhance your personal brand. The stuff that adds the fizz. Developing your personal brand is an exciting process. One where you need to think about all your past experiences, skills, competencies, talents and interests and work out what it is about you that can be packaged together to add value to the world.

Any business you start is an extension of you and so you need to be clear about your own values and beliefs and how they fit with your business because ultimately, if there is a gap, the brand YOU will be threatened. Think of some well-known personal brands in business and how they managed the dynamic.

anitaroddickpa_228x182 richard-branson-virgin

What was the relationship between their personal branding and their business branding?

So, how does this help us with our question? You are the parent brand, and any offspring you have in terms of brands or projects will reflect or emphasise certain relevant aspects you, the parent brand. You may choose create a public link between the two brands, in the way the Richard Branson and Anita Roddick did. In these cases, there was synergy and a win-win situation was created. Or there was until Body Shop was sold to L’Oreal.

But back to the question about how you decide…

Let’s say for a minute that you are a business owner, but your business is essentially you. You sell your time and your expertise to other businesses, and you love what you do. You don’t want to grow it because that might mean that you have to manage people, which would get in the way of the DOING. In this situation, it is worth noting that your business is currently fulfilling a role for you that fits with your current circumstances. But should your circumstances change (or the world around you), then your business might need to change. And, it follows that what you want from your business might change. So how do you brand?

The brand as servant
In this situation, it is worth thinking about how branding can serve you. If you choose to develop separate brands for you and the business, then brand YOU can act as the pull to your business. Brand YOU is engaged with the people that you deal with directly among your clients. But, for these people to work with you, they may need to get the project signed off at a senior level. So, unless brand YOU is significant and you are well known, your business branding is going to be key. For some reason a lot of senior business execs prefer to do business with businesses rather than individuals. So, if you’re clever, you can play tag team with your branding. So that your personal brand acts as a pull, and your business branding gets you over the line. Or vice versa.

So, what is it that you want from your business? After all, that is where the answer is probably hidden.

2 Comments

How to select a creative agency

Building and growing your business will surely involve working with design agencies at some point.  They can be critical in giving you the edge to stand out in a cluttered marketplace.  But, for you to get the best out of the process, there are a few pointers to bear in mind.

Before you start

  • What sort of creative work are you seeking? Be very clear about the nature of your project and type of work that you are looking for. Is it web design, point-of-sale, brochures, brand identity, advertising etc.
  • Define the project. If the project seems too big, it probably is. Consider breaking it down into smaller projects to allow specialists to become involved. You’re likely to get more satisfying results than when using a one-stop shop agency.
  • Have a clear brief at the outset. Take time to write a good detailed design brief. The better the brief the better the outcome. Avoid writing the brief with the agency - you know your business and your objectives better than anyone. See here for details on how to write a good design brief.
  • Ask around for recommendations. These are stronger than picking a name from a list or googling in the dark.

Start the dialogue

  • Select a handful and set up meetings with them. Eventually, you’ll want to obtain at least 3 quotes, so allow for the inevitable fall-out.
  • Be clear about what you want out of your first meeting. Without direction some agencies will happily spend an hour showing you ALL their work. Not necessarily the best way to spend your time.
  • Ask them to send through examples of their work. This can help build your shortlist as well eliminate those that aren’t suitable.
  • Note how they are in their dealings with you and how this fits with your company culture. Are they efficient, friendly, professional etc

That first meeting

  • You may want to set an agenda or go free flow. Depends if you want them to prepare anything. You choose.
  • Ask them to present to you what they think your business does in 10 minutes and who your main competition is.
  • You will get more out of an agency that knows your industry and understands your product and company vision, so ask questions to test.
  • Ask them why they think they can do better than anyone else or what their USP is.
  • Ask them what they think they’re good at and what their area of specialism is. They will tend to be best at this, not the stuff they hardly do. This might be the same as the above point. It might not.
  • Ask them to detail their creative process. It’s surprising how uncreative an agency can be in their approach to a creative task. If you’re looking for creativity and innovation, you won’t find it in a process that resembles an MBA framework.
  • Look out for chemistry. You will need to get on and enjoy each other’s company to get the best out of any creative brainstorm sessions. It’s also key for those managing the project from both companies to get on.
  • Ask them what their most challenging client has been and why. Watch and listen how they respond.
  • Always review their past work for sector knowledge and creativity, not to mention conflict of interest.
  • Ask them on what basis they like to pitch. Some agencies are happy to do some work for you while others will not do any work until you give them the project. Beware: it can get tricky if an agency does some work for you, and you go with another, but you liked their idea and want to use it somehow.
  • Some agencies have their own briefing documents. Ask about these, as you will need to fill one in, in addition to your own brief.

Inviting the pitch

  • Having made your shortlist, send out your brief for them to quote against. Make sure you are clear about what you are asking them to do.
  • Depending on the nature of the brief, you may want to hold a briefing session with them. For larger projects this might be very helpful for both parties.
  • Avoid giving verbal briefs, unless they are accompanied by a written brief.
  • If you haven’t specified a date you want to receive responses by, ask for the timeframe they are working to.

Reviewing the proposals

  • Ensure the quote is broken down to include all the stages - concepts, design, artwork,
  • Ask about these hidden nasties that aren’t always included, but you end up paying for; despatching artwork to the printer, photographer’s and illustrator’s fees, photographic rights, ownership of illustrations, fonts & photography, burning artwork to CD etc.
  • Check how much involvement you are getting from the senior member of the creative team. What other projects are they working on? Are you getting the creative minds working on your project you thought you were getting?
  • Ensure there has been an allowance for amendments. You’ll want at least 3 sets of amends. More if your company likes to make decisions by committee.
  • If the agency is providing printing quotes, ask them to submit 3. This is a nice place to hide additional margin. Otherwise, if you have a print buyer, just hand it to them.
  • Look for the payment schedule and ensure you only pay for each stage as and when you have signed it off.

Making the decision

  • Be clear as to what is important to you and stick to it.. Is it cost, creativity, speed of turnaround etc?
  • Agree costs up front to avoid surprises.
  • Check that the account handler will remain for the duration of the work (as far as possible).
  • And finally, make sure you decide to go with an agency that feels right.  If it don’t feel right, it probably ain’t!

1 Comment