When I am approached and given the opportunity to bid on a graphic design project, inevitably I am asked for samples from my portfolio. I am always happy to provide them, and to point them to my Web site where they can view more, but I wonder if they realize that my portfolio only tells a part of the story. The samples allow a prospective client to gauge my design ability, but give no insight into my reliability.
Our lives are filled with stories. Great books, great TV shows, plays, musicals and movies are all popular in our culture because of the stories they tell. Stories engage us, fascinate us, and sometimes teach and inspire us. Even politics has its candidates with a “great personal story.”
Too many marketing campaigns that I’ve seen are based on features and benefits, rather than stories.
We sent out a rare email blast yesterday extolling the virtues of great presentation graphics. Sure, we did it to try and drum up business, but it wasn’t entirely self-serving. We truly believe that our clients who invest in professional PowerPoint artwork and diagrams end up delivering better presentations and are more successful as a result.
One of the first decisions I made as an independent designer was to create a policy not to do “spec work.” We’ve been pretty successful at honoring the policy, although there are a few cases where we felt we had to do it to remain competitive.
When I present a design idea to a client, for example a selection of 5 logo concepts, I generally post the concepts to our extranet and send the client a link to view them. Every once in a while, a client will react badly to this tactic, asking why I don’t mount the concepts on black boards and present them to the executive team in person.