Magazine article Marketing

How to Sell Yourself

Magazine article Marketing

How to Sell Yourself

Article excerpt

Design agencies feel greater pressure to produce when selling themselves

It's a bit like watching a dentist extract his own teeth. The agonies that creative agencies experience in producing their own marketing materials are something to behold with a kind of morbid delight--with the end-products frequently inducing embarrassment or horror. Design agencies, not surprisingly, feel more than anyone the pressure of having to communicate powerfully through their own printed marketing material.

They often talk about 'what if' -- "what if the client had let us run free creatively? if only we had more budget, we could have done something so special," they lament. But when their own work is under the spotlight it invariably doesn't live up to all the rhetoric. Producing a document that does all the jobs a design agency wants can be just as limiting, or difficult, as producing work for an outside client.

Even for the most creative and respected design agencies, the process is riddled with terrifying choices. How much should we spend? What format should we use: a brochure, a newsletter, a book, a diary? Who are we sending it to? How often should we do it? How will we find the time to do one at all? And that's before they try to agree what typeface to use.

Standing out

"It's extremely difficult to make it different from everyone else's," says Phil Carter of Carter WongTomlin, whose new brochure will go out later this month. "We all have an opinion on it and it's gone from creative team to creative team. I spoke to a few marketing people about this and they said they invariably get 15 brochures a week. You have to win people over some other way, by giving at least some feeling of what we're about as a company, over and above design."

For companies wanting to publicise their work for clients, a systematic approach such as that of Bamber Forsyth (see box), of treating the brochure as a bona fide, fully fledged print project, seems to yield results. Orange became a Bamber Forsyth client following its little mailed-out book on annual reports.

"It's very hard to say if our own output leads to new work," says head of marketing Thom Newton. "But there are lots of peripheral benefits: it puts us in a positive light with recruitment people, and other communications people."

Personality-led

A steady, collectible stream of anniversary books and newsletters helped establish The Partners in the early years, says design director Nina Jenkins. "These items were strategic in that they were planned, regular and targeted toward a network who would appreciate what The Partners is all about, stimulating fresh interest and new business. They were an effective result from focused indulgence in creative, lateral thinking."

More recently, The Partners and other leading agencies have moved away from showcasing their client work toward in-house publications that reveal more of their personality, by enlightening clients of their working methods or offering a glimpse of private design projects and passions. In so doing, their aim is to create something with intrinsic value, that is not as disposable as a newsletter or brochure.

High standards

But even this approach presents difficulties. Lippa Pearce has produced only books, not brochures -- some of which are deserving of a place on any bookshelf. …

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