Being an Affordable Alternative…

So I just visited my favorite coffee shop today but this was the first time in a few weeks. Here’s why…

1. A stork dropped off a baby. So leaving the house at all right now is rare.

2. A different stork brought me this insanely cool coffee maker that brews one cup at time.

3. Up till recently I had a $6 a day coffeeshop habit  (coffee, espresso, tip, it adds up). And thats not including my frequent midnight runs to get wired for writing articles like this. So at the very least thats like $2200 a year.  Now I feel bad because in our current economic downturn, I’m contributing to the problem by taking money out of a local business. Sigh. I suck. I know. But when I did the math on this, thats like a Disney cruise worth of coffee. 

Here’s the point. I haven’t stopped drinking coffee! In fact I probably drink WAY more now.  Someone else is making money off my habit. I found an alternative. And like my coffee, people that need web development or art will still have to get it somewhere. I’m not going to start growing coffee beans in my backyard, and a business owner probably isn’t going to program his or her own site or suddenly become a good graphic designer. But if they feel they are paying too much now for those services they will look elsewhere.

And I know it feels gross to advertise yourself as a cheap designer, but there’s ways of coming across as the right person to hire that won’t kick your ego in the groin. Here’s a few tips and remember this is about giving the right impression, not necessarily cutting your rates although thats always an option too….

1. The word “affordable” means the same thing as cheap, but sounds a million times better. Use it in describing your prices.  And unless you are trying to come off as an expensive boutique firm, I don’t see the downside to at least implying that you’ll give the client a good deal. Even if your prices haven’t changed at all in this current economy, you can still give people the impression that you feel your work is affordable. 

2. Get personal with your pitch. I talked about this at length in this article. Basically try using “I” instead of “we” when referring to your services.

3. Keep a blog, and make sure clients can find it (post it as one of your main links). Again this is about getting personal. Soon I’ll post up some illustrations by this artist Tyson Mangelsdorf, but take peak at his blog now. What jumps out to me most there isn’t his art but his family profile pic. Here’s a guy with a wife and kids. And if I were going to hire him, I’d know who in his life that money is supporting. Plus a family pic like this implies some kind of stability too. Like here’s a guy that most likely won’t flake out on the job because he’s too often drunk or stoned to get the work done. 

4. Try being a little self-effacing.  I don’t like gimmicky sales pitches, UNLESS its a funny pitch or a parody on a pitch…  Like “All 2008 Web Development Must Go!”  or “Limited Time Offer, $250 Off for New Projects over $1000: (small print) Offer expires after this month’s rent is paid”.   Try not to come off as too desperate, and maybe try some of these out on your blog first, but done right humorous advertising again adds a personal touch. Who wants a boring artist anyway.

5. I love a spokes character.  I even taught a course on drawing spokes characters. (shameless plug: check)  Think about all the corporations that have happy, smiling personal embodiments for their services/ products. Typically they are either representative of who buys their product or a caricature of the product itself. And yeah many of them are food related like Stay Puff, but there are plenty of cooler spokes characters, like Erin the Esurance girl. Its about putting a pleasing face with the service. You won’t find unhappy spokes characters. They like the product, so you should too.   ( I have the TV on mute in front of me and there’s an ad for a Presidential Plate with a smiling Obama. He’s even a spokes character now )

6.  Be willing to negotiate. You don’t need to come right out and say that you’re willing to haggle on your website ( in fact, definitely don’t do this) , but after you’ve given someone a quote, if you feel like its not to their liking, then its stupid to lose a job entirely just because you can’t knock 10% off the price. Its a good gesture, and you can probably lose 10% and not suffer too much. 

Okay, that is ALL for now.

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