Making the Sale

One of the constants you hear from designers and the creative profession in general is how much they dislike the sales aspect of the business.

Like the proverbial cobbler whose children lack shoes, designers are often lacking in their own marketing communication (read: sales) efforts.

For us, the process has been remarkably unscientific, albeit quite straightforward. Seek out the clients with whom you want to work. Send them something you think would get their attention. Follow up with an email or call a week or two later.

It's an idea so crazy it can occasionally work.

Roughly a year and a half ago, we made a concentrated effort to work with Chicago not-for-profit organizations. This was for a number of reasons. First, they tend to be fairly visible, and visibility leads to greater awareness. Second, they present a more unique set of creative challenges than some of our corporate or professional services clients. Finally, there is a warm and fuzzy factor in doing good work for organizations that you feel benefit the community.

This is what we did.

Each year we send out a holiday promotion to our clients, friends, and colleagues. We made a point of adding two dozen not-for-profit clients to the list who we thought would be a good fit for Substance. Then, we designed a holiday promo that we thought was suitably cool.

Two weeks later, we received a call from a very pleasant gentleman from AIDS Foundation of Chicago and an equally pleasant lady from the Illinois Humanities Council. Both are now wonderful clients that have been with us over a year. They are collaborative, forward thinking, and value what we offer.

In short, they are ideal clients. So much so, that our efforts with them caused another not-for-profit to take notice. We recently started a rebranding campaign with the Parkways Foundation. If you've ever wandered through the Chicago Park District and wondered who to thank for the funding and upkeep of the parks, credit Parkways.

We look forward to partnering with them on their 2011 efforts, and beyond.