How do you know who is charging the right amount and who will do the best job?

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You need some design and — darn it — you need it now. That, or your boss has tasked you with finding a design agency. The ways of finding a design agency are myriad: you already have an existing relationship with one; you ask a friend or colleague, ‘who did your website?’; or you type ‘design agency’ into Google and see who’s SEO or PPC does the best job of getting them on page one.

Some of those methods may feel like you are buying a lottery ticket, but either way, you will eventually have a shortlist of design agencies to talk to, and you need to discern who is the best fit. …


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How to thrive in a room full of strangers

‘Why are you so quiet?’ That’s what my wife often says when she organises a dinner party with a dozen people. Let’s get this out of the way; I am a fully paid-up member of the Introverts Club. I am the kind of guy that is exhausted after a day of meetings, needs time alone, and would much rather have a night out with a single friend, not ten.

Sound familiar?

So how did I get to love networking and thrive in a room full of strangers? And, more to the point, how can you do it too?

Why network anyway?

Well, if you are like me, you are a business owner or entrepreneur that needs to widen his or her network to find new business or partnership opportunities. Your business is ticking along nicely, but is, by and large, relying on referrals. You have tried marketing in so many different ways — blogging, social media, direct mail — but you are running out of options. Your approach has been throwing it at the wall to see what sticks. It’s a long game, but deep down in your heart of hearts, you know you have to start networking. …


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And, how to overcome them

B2B websites come in all shapes and sizes, but they all suffer from the same pitfalls. Yes, they do serve different sectors and solve a myriad of business problems, but B2B websites have this in common: they cater to more than one audience; and according to recent marketing studies, 57% of prospects are already halfway through the buyer’s journey. That means they have done a ton of research before they hit that carefully worded, A/B tested, call to action at the foot every page.

B2B marketers know this, but there is often complexity in understanding who those audiences are and how they talk to those audiences. Their job gets even harder as their business grows, and their offer grows as new features or products get shipped. …


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In short: yes, and no.

A few weeks ago, my business partner and I were sat round a table with a prospect. For context, we had created work in their sector and we were sat around their table because of that work. Just so you know what particular dialect of Design-ese I am talking in, this was a full brand and visual identity programme, with applications across everything, from signage to digital, to good old fashioned — touch it, feel it, smell it (ahh!) — print.

They asked all the usual questions. ‘What does your process look like? When can you start? How long will it take?’ …


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And how to climb up from the bottom

On paper, you look at your life, and you say to yourself I should be happy, but I’m not.

We’ve all seen the happiness curve, right? The U-shaped curve that measures happiness in your adult life from your early twenties to your eighties. The bottom of the curve hits you in your forties. The moment when you are most likely to have a young family and enough of a career under your belt that you are responsible for the ‘team’ both at home and at work.

You are time starved, cash starved, possibly even fun starved, and you begin to wonder is this it? We’ve all looked at the curve and said to ourselves that’s not me, that’s for others. …


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And how you can avoid them too

This is the tale of a designer. A tale that has been told a thousand times. The tale of a young designer armed with energy, enthusiasm and a healthy dose of naïvety.

Our hero woke one day, uncharacteristically early, at 4am. Lying on his back, starring out into the dawn sky through a Velux window he wondered, ‘is this is it? I have hit the proverbial glass ceiling and there is nowhere for me to go. It is time for me to strike out my own and forge my own destiny.’

Armed with a three word business plan—‘let’s do this!’—our designer did indeed strike out on his own. After telling everyone he was doing this for himself, soon enough, our designer landed his first fee paying job. The fee barely covered the mortgage, let alone the bills, but that first cheque felt so, so, so good. …


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Dear founder, designers love working with you, and here’s why.

At the last count, there were 5.7 million SMEs on our little island called the United Kingdom. SMEs account for an astonishing 99% of all businesses operating on this fair isle. (Give yourself a little pat on the back.) That means at some point, and I am generalising here, 5.7 million of you woke up one morning and said today is a new day and I am going to do something different.

It’s no secret. I had the same epiphany at approximately 4 o’clock in the morning, staring out of my friend’s Velux window watching the sun rise. …


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Why you would be mad not to put design at the heart of your business

In a recent conversation with a client, who is about go through a serious growth spurt, he said “any business that doesn’t put design at the centre of its business is mad.”

I would have to agree, but then again I would, wouldn’t I?

The metrics

To put the day job aside and examine this objectively, you only have to look at companies such as Apple, Airbnb or Dyson. These are companies that place design at the heart of their business and report stellar growth and profits — not to mention loyal customers.

If you wanted less anecdotal evidence than my previous sentence, and more extensive analysis and research, then read the McKinsey report ‘The business value of design.’ …


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What are the typical pain points of business growth that can be solved through design?

Running a business is hard. Let’s not sugar-coat it. It just is. But, where there is no risk, there is no reward, right? If you are a business owner and find yourself reading this, I bet you woke up one day and had an epiphany. A switch flicked in your head. You broke down the self-limiting beliefs. There and then, you were hell bent on setting up your business. (Am I painting a rosy enough picture?)

I know, I did, when I said to my business partner, “shall we have a go setting up an agency?” This is the mantra I pedal out to colleagues and friends: “running a business is like having children. You have good days, and you have bad days. The good days are life affirming, but the bad days are a living hell.” …


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Not everyone comes through the front-door of your brand, so each touch-point really matters.

Put simply, a positioning statement defines why someone would purchase from your company, be it a product or a service. It tells us what problem you solve, and for whom, and, if you have competition, why you are better. Put even more simply, ‘This is why you should chose us, and not those guys next door!’

If we were to interrogate that further and align that to your product or service, how should that message manifest itself, and how should you talk to your audience? More so, if you have more than one audience, should you talk to each one differently? (Psst. …

About

Marcus Taylor

Design agency owner/founder, Taylor Thomas, based in London. I write about design, the design process, and becoming a better human being. A buzz word free zone.

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