The Opportunity to Learn

classroom In my post, A Perfect Dichotomy, I highlighted an interesting situation: designers are facing being undercut by very inexpensive labor because business people are quite often happy with “good enough” design. What I learned from the post was that designers are passionate. I learned that business people believe in value, but quite often have to choose between “good enough” or what they choose to allot for a project, and “quality.”

But what I learned most was that the way everyone approached the argument told me a lot about how they probably approach their own business, even if that’s the business of design.

Further, I learned that people had a hard time squinting and seeing the different applications inherent in the post. That’s a fault of my writing style and my framing. I didn’t talk about the fact that professional photographers, journalists, writers, and most every other right-brained business has suffered the same fate.

I learned that people would rather defend their position than learn how the other side thinks, which means they’d rather not sell to the side who’s buying. (And that goes in both directions, by the way.)

Here’s the Opportunity

I’ve highlighted one place where you, the seller (in the previous post, that was a designer), have a new challenge: I, the buyer (and I don’t mean me, but I’m standing in as the straw man for this), need something more utilitarian than end-of-the-world amazing, and thus, I need a marketplace to serve me the opportunity to purchase such a thing.

Specialty shops still thrive in the age of WalMart. You think they sit around and convince anyone that WalMart is evil? No. They serve the marketplace they know exists and they find their buyers.

The opportunity is to understand which marketplace you want to sell into, realize that there are many other methods and marketplaces, that there are many other needs than the noble ones your craft might prefer to see enacted, and that there are many different ways to sell up into these marketplaces.

Journalists all lost their jobs. Many of them are writing for corporate marketing departments. Some thrive at it. Others hate it. It’s not the same as being the Fourth Estate (or whichever estate they are), but it’s what they were able to find.

You Need to Squint More

There are lessons all around us. If you pick up a magazine and look at the ads, you’ll see who’s spending money. If you scan the ads, you’ll see who had a rough position and is aiming at a new position (“now with more FLAVOR!”).

But you have to squint.

Sometimes, the lesson doesn’t start with your first name, and it doesn’t mention what happened last week at the office, and it doesn’t immediately jump out at you as an opportunity to improve your business. Sometimes, you have to work just a hair to see what’s being said and what YOUR response and your business opportunity is, with regards to that.

Do you follow trends? Do you look at where the puck is going, versus where it is? That requires squinting, seeing patterns that might not immediately be obvious, and then acting on the patterns.

Are You Looking For Work?

So, here’s something funny. I haven’t read *every* comment (because I’ve been traveling), but I didn’t see any designer offer to work with me. I got one phone call, from Justin Evans from stresslimitdesign, and I’m going to follow up with him, but that was it from the designer’s side.

Except, know who did ask for my business? Ross Kimbarovsky from CrowdSpring, the other leading crowdsourced design resource on the web.

The designers defended their right to their value. Ross asked for my business.

What Will You Do With All This?

That’s the real question, isn’t it? I got your attention. I raised your dander. I earned a bunch of negative commentary from people who really didn’t stop to ask me much about my side. I’m sure I earned a few negative blog posts.

But this is our business challenge. My business challenge is demonstrating the value that goes into what I charge. My challenge is showing people the payload they receive for the paycheck I expect. Do people think I’m overpriced? Do they go to my lesser-charging competition? All the time. Are those my ideal customer?

What will you do with this opportunity to learn?

Photo credit crunchy footsteps

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