Happy New Year! 2020 sounds so futuristic. I still remember NYE in 2000, I’d just finished high school and the future was irrelevant because at 18, time is an absurd way to measure anything. The future was forever! 20 years later I somewhat envy that ignorance but admire that sense of freedom.
I wanted to start the year off in a power stance so finally read ‘The Win without Pitching Manifesto’ by Blair Enns. This book is Chris Do, from The Futur’s, number one book recommendation and it’s not hard to see why. As the title would suggest, the book is about positioning yourself or your firm in such a way that you are no longer have to pitch for projects but are approached by clients because you are the expert. The book walks through ‘The Twelve Proclamations’ - 12 actionable steps that need to be taken so we are hired for our expertise and not our service.
A pencil in hand for note taking is a must for this book. Flicking back through I have underlined noteworthy lines or ideas on almost every second page. The information and advice given in the book isn’t always easy to take - big, bold and sometimes scary and counterintuitive decisions need to be made in order for you to take control of your professional engagements. There are so many ideas I took away from my first read of this book but I’m only going to mention the one I find the most confronting.
Proclamation 1: We will specialise. The world doesn’t need another generalist design firm. The power the client has over us is his ability to chose another designer or firm to do the work. If we offer the same services as everybody else then it becomes a price war until there is a price or service offered that suits the client. They chose you therefore they have the power.
The idea of specialising is to position yourself away from the competition and reduce or better yet, eliminate, alternatives to hiring you. There are three steps of positioning which you need to build deep expertise, in a nut shell, you must chose a focus, then articulate that focus via a consistent claim and finally, you must work to add the missing skills, capabilities and processes to support the new claim. Sounds simple enough but when you have worked as a generalist for the last 16 years it takes a lot of self reflection and soul searching to acknowledge and realise what that focus is or should be.
Over the last 12 months I’ve been trying to distill what The Design Dept is and I now realise that I was in fact trying to find the focus. I’m still not there yet but with each new bit of information I learn, I’m starting to see patterns in ideas that really resonate with me. Each and every page of ‘The Win without Pitching Manifesto’ felt like it was directed at me personally. I will read this again and again and again - until I can confidently say I have in fact mastered all of ‘The Twelve Proclamations’. First thing is to decide my focus…
My video of the week in the live interview Chris Do did with Blair Enns in May last year. It gives a really great introduction to what “The Win without Pitching Manifesto” dives deep into. My font of the week is Mr Banks Designed by Andrei Robu and podcast of the week is Bang!- totally off topic but an awesome NZ podcast never the less!