4 Tactics To Increase Your Design Rates (In 2020)

Design is not a scarce commodity. 

The old adage goes â€śdesign is everywhere”.

But now â€śjobs for graphic designers and more are everywhere” too and their heavy supply (along with plenty of cheap alternatives), has impacted how much designers can earn.

And while a seasoned designer will happily point to the gulf in good design versus bad design, most entrepreneurs struggle to justify the cost of quality.

To them, it’s just how something looks and doesn’t play a defining role in the success or failure of their business.

So how can designers, who hone their skills and take pride in the quality of work they produce, get paid for the value they’re actually worth?

Here are 4 tactics, to help you to distance yourself from the rest, elevate your demand and increase your rates as a branding specialist.

[#1] Sell Your Thinking. It’s the most valuable thing you do

Most designers present their services as individual stand-alone outcomes such as a brand identity or a website or a brochure. 

Whether or not they have well defined processes is rarely considered let alone factored into the cost. It’s worth pointing out that there are two types of designers.

Type 1 designers are direction takers. They want the client to tell them the colour, the font and to give them a logo as close as possible to what they want. Then, they’ll quickly produce something as close as possible to the directions.

Type 2 designers are thinkers. They lay out all of the factors at play including the industry, target audience and message. They produce a result based on strategic thinking that offers a higher chance of resonating with the intended audience.

The disadvantage Type 2 designers have is that they produce a higher quality outcome that goes beyond looks, though they don’t have a system to charge for this thinking.

When they promote their services in the exact same way as Type 1 designers, entrepreneurs and would be customers, lump them together in the same basket as the Type 1’s and then it’s a game of price wars.

If an entrepreneur thinks that the outcome from two designers is roughly the same, their preservation for their bottom line takes over. 

The designer with the lowest price wins, while the designer with the higher quality loses out.

If you’re a designer that uses strategic thinking in your designs but sell design services just like everyone else, you’re not selling what makes you different and you’re losing out on business because of it.

When you sell your thinking separately, you separate the visual work from the strategic work. You elevate your standing as an expert in the eyes of your prospect and you can charge premium fees as a result.

[#2] Educate your clients so they can see why they need you

Telling your client â€śA logo is not a brand” is one thing.

Showing them the value of a real brand has an entirely different outcome. Most entrepreneurs and business owners know that a strong brand is a non-negotiable.

They’ve heard everyone from Gary Vaynerchuck to Richard Branson tell them so.

When it comes to building their own brand however, they’re at a loss. 

They fall back on what’s easier to understand, visual design and when they have a logo, they deem themselves branded.  

But when you educate them on the importance of strategy, they can see their potential brand from a different angle and they understand the strategic considerations that impact its success.

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[#3] Keep your Ideas for paying clients (not bargain hunters)

It’s important to remember that you are in the business of branding and that branding is your business.

So before you go giving away the farm, remember what you’re asking your prospects to pay for (HINT: we’re not talking about the beautiful designs you serve up).

There is method to your madness and thinking in your craft that draws on your experience and expertise.

If you simply give this away, then you’ve lost your â€śX” factor, you’ve lost what makes you unique, you’ve lost your edge.

This experience and expertise is what you need to package up and entice your prospects with.

But give it to them before they’ve paid or committed to your services and they lose their incentive to pay for that privilege.

So, how do you educate your clients on the importance of strategy, without giving away your secret sauce? 

Well, just like a chef, you present them with the ingredients of the dish, but not the recipe to make it. The strategic decisions you make throughout your process is your secrets sauce.

The strategic considerations are your ingredients.

When your prospect understands the ingredients, they understand they need the sauce. 

That’s when it’s time to commit and get access to your experience, your expertise and, of course, your sauce.

Too many designers give everything away and hold nothing back before they get commitment. 

They tell them their ingredients, let them taste their sauce and then present them with a quote only to realise, their prospect was only here for the tasting. 

So educate your clients on the strategic considerations, show them your experience and expertise from behind the window and keep the privilege of tasting your secret sauce for your paying clients.

[#4] Demonstrate that you’re not “Just another designer”.

We can argue until we’re blue in the face about the difference between good design and bad design, but the reality is, perception plays a vital role in where that argument begins.

If our prospects have a 17-year-old nephew that “does logo’s” (and let’s face it, most of them do), then that is the anchor point, which we’ll never be able to shake no matter how compelling our “good design” argument is.

Likewise, if we sell â€śdesign services” as the rest do, we’re tying ourselves to this undervalued perception that dictates how much we can charge. It’s critical for the outcome of any meeting or preliminary phone call to completely destroy their perception of you as “just another designer”.

The saying goes â€śHe / She who asks the most questions controls the conversation”. 

If you’re asking questions, you’re controlling where the conversation goes. The more questions you ask, the more your prospect feels that you have control and conviction in what you do.

When the questions you ask are not related to design but to their business and to strategy, they feel they are in a conversation with someone with more experience and expertise than “Just another designer”.

When you manage to successfully shake that initial perception, your prospect is more open to your input and far more likely to believe that you can impact their business beyond just visuals.

This pivot needs to happen early in the relationship and will have a dramatic impact on how much your prospect is prepared to pay to work with you.

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Your Prospect Needs A Guide.

Branding is not a black and white topic and even industry experts will go toe-to-toe on their definition of branding over the other.

So what hope does an entrepreneur have who just wants what’s best for their business?

Ask most business owners to show you their position in the market and they’ll draw a blank.

(Let alone their differentiator, brand personality, archetype, tone of voice or communication framework).

Ask them to show you their brand and they’ll point to their logo or their website.

In today’s saturated market, business owners rarely get the guidance they need when it coms to their brand.

In reality, most business owners don’t go into the market looking for the cheapest quote.

They go in hoping to find the right guide to help their business succeed.

Having a plan makes sense to any business owner and the overwhelming majority would invest heavily in the right plan.

If you can shine a light on the impact that strategy can have on your prospects business and present that strategy in the right way, you’re no longer a designer playing in a saturated market.

You’re a brand strategist and industry expert who approaches branding as a serious business and gives your customers a much greater chance of their business succeeding.

If you want to learn more about building strategic brands and positioning yourself in the market as a strategic branding expert then get yourself registered for a seat in the next FREE training session.

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