How to Win Clients and Influence New Partners with Flexibility and Innovation

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How do you make each project you endeavor a success? Does each partner within the studio feel worthy and competent throughout the project?

Two weeks ago, after talking with a new client, we realized that we had to conduct an emergency meeting of the minds to flush out a few more ideas for our new line of leathergoods –specifically totes and bags. And the rub? We had 3 days to concept, design, and build this new piece.

So, how did we make this urgent project a success and what were the supporting roles of each partner? Were we able to reach our objective and each of us still feel worthy and competent throughout the project? As long as our objective was aligned with our business’ area of Immutable Laws, we were able to embrace our passion and celebrate the process with flexibility and fun.

Inside the studio | Determine Capabilities, Define the Roles
Three days is a death defying, character building exercise. Do we have the capabilities to create a brand new design to meet the customer’s expectations? If the answer is yes, then what are the keys to a successful project partnership? Clutching to our business’ Area of Immutable Laws, the first and foremost key is that each project must be underscored with our passion and must always be fun.

Additionally, to assign the roles for each partner, one must:

1. Play to your strengths. By embracing our strengths as already define by the roles we bring to the proverbial worktable, each partner has a forte plus a little cross-over experience.

TIP: Commit Yourself to Your Task. Immerse yourself in your role and allow your partner(s) to do the same; this is no time for micromanagement.
TIP: When you’re finished with your part of the project, ask how you can help your partner meet her deadline. Play subordinate to her area of expertise and always ask before doing -never assume. Your partner may already have an idea how each step is going to be processed within her area.

2. Check your ego at the door. Seriously. For some, it’s tough to do, but coming from a service background is very helpful. There are security checks at every gate: if your ego slips by unnoticed at one checkpoint, it will certainly be discovered at the next. When managing the project, it’s imperative to always check-in with the self to ensure that Mr. Hyde doesn’t make his appearance.

TIP: Embrace the mantra: It’s not about me, it’s about you. If you’re happy with the result, then I’ve done my job.
TIP: Base every challenging statement with facts that may include historical evidence and current trends to support your position. Be sure that you understand color trends from buying trends and where within the neighborhood your product meets them. Even then, your challenge may get overruled, all because you’re working against a deadline.

3. Bias to Action. Don’t Over Think It. Many successful companies “act” rather than spin their wheels ‘concepting.’ They’ll put out an imperfect product and develop it based on market feedback rather than keeping in behind closed doors “perfecting” it. You’ll lose touch w/your market as well as the opportunity to be the first in the market.

TIP: It’s more important to get something tangible done for your client even if it’s reduced to a simpler form in order to reach your objective.
TIP: Don’t start from scratch. Create your product based on the template you’ve already designed in-house. This makes for fewer hiccups through the process.
TIP: Don’t think too hard, too long. Think Iron Chef in Kitchen Stadium. Upon the secret ingredient being revealed, the chefs outline their meals within minutes; Apply the same approach with your Urgent Project.

4. Brainstorm the Project. Outline the options as the needs should already be defined. When you’re in a box with a tight deadline, brainstorm within that box.  A focused brainstorming session may lead to innovative solutions, but be sure this innovation doesn’t lead you astray.

What’s the Time Frame? Break down components to understand how much time is allowed per stage. Components include concept, design, & prototype.

  • Concept the product: Donate less than 25% of your total time to this area.
  • Design includes illustration or product parameters: Dedicate ~25% of your total time to this area
  • Prototype includes building the product based on the defined design parameters: This is where you’ll spend most of your time.

TIP: Always Remember You’re Under a Deadline.
TIP: Build in a time fudge factor. If there are any tweaks that need to be made along the way, you’ll have a little wiggle room, but be mindful of the clock.

5. Review Think of your customer as a personal buyer for her customers. Constantly asking questions along the way will help fuel your inspiration to provide your customer the best product you know how to make. It’s essential to know how to feed the dialog to maintain and nourish your new partnership.

  • Does the product/service fulfill the parameters the customer outlined?
  • Does the product fall within the current color trends and buying trends?
  • Does the product work for the customer’s customer?

Flexibility is key when striving to make yourself and your client happy. Our flexibility can be found our willingness to embrace the challenge of looming deadline, create entirely new illustrations, and build the tote with skills and materials we already had in the studio

Innovation was the by-product of the new illustrations, the materials we had on hand, and tweaks to the templates we already had in-house.

By eliminating the ego and brainstorming the project with the end client in mind, the result should be an invigorating and exciting project you want to showcase to the World.

6. Celebrate: One must always celebrate. This was a huge project that deserved a mini celebration. Wine is our choice for libation and relaxation on the deck is our form of quiet celebration.

What have you done that deserves a celebration?

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Follow Up Article: Working with the Client to Ensure Success

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