Expert Advice

An international panel of creative industry business experts recently joined forces for a no-holds-barred Webinar that answered the most challenging questions about what it takes to run a successful business today.  
Consultant to Creative Professionals, Emily Ruth Cohen; FunctionFox Founder and Suburbia Advertising CEO, Mary-Lynn Bellamy-Willms; and Chief Executive of the United Kingdom’s Design Business Association, Deborah Dawton tackled tough issues submitted by Webinar participants, ranging from blacklisting clients, to reducing fees to gain work, to motivating lackadaisical staff.

You can listen to the whole webinar here or check out some highlights below.

Should we reduce fees? 
The experts agreed that compromising on pricing is not an option.  “Reducing fees sends the message that you were too expensive previously,” said Bellamy-Willms.  Cohen noted that when firms cut back fees after 9/11, they still haven’t returned to previous levels.
How can we work with difficult clients?
“Fire difficult clients,” said Dawton, who argued that bad client relationships can infect the entire company culture.  Cohen advised that setting expectations upfront, working with the head person and never missing a deadline can be effective in turning difficult clients into better ones.
Are there any sure-fire ways to win new business?
Forget mass-mailings and clever website updates, make five to ten new business contacts each week, said Cohen.  “Case studies are key,” said Dawton.  These should demonstrate the work and, more importantly, the results.  “Return on investment outweighs anything spent on advertising,” she added.
How do you motivate unchallenged staff?
“Unengaged staff comes down to a question of leadership,” said Bellamy-Willms.  Even the smallest firms need structure, such as performance reviews, to enable staff to understand how they fit into the big picture, see their contribution and determine whether or not they’re in the right job, the experts agreed. 

Posted by Megan