[Podcast] How to Sell Brand Strategy

[Podcast] How to Sell Brand Strategy

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Episode 4 of the JUST Branding Podcast has just launched and this week focuses on how to sell brand strategy.

Tune in to listen to Jacob Cass & Matt Davies discuss how to sell strategy, giving different perspectives on how to approach sales & the brand building process. We dive into pricing methodologies, relationship building, metaphors and value ladders.

 

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How to Sell Brand Strategy Transcript

Below is an auto-transcript from the episode. Please excuse any errors as it was all AI generated.

Matt Davies (00:07):
Hello everybody and welcome to episode four of just branding. I’m Matt Davies and I’m here with Jacob Cass and today we are going to be talking to you about how to sell strategy. Say hello Jacob. Hello. Okay. So it’s an interesting topic because obviously so far we’ve talked a little bit about some of the our various journeys into strategy from a, from a professional perspective and what that meant from a, from a client and why we think there’s a lot of value in doing strategy from a brand perspective. And we’ve talked a little bit about some of the tools and some of the cool things that a designer can use after a bit of strategy work has been done and how that can help them create more meaningful work. But today really we want to kind of put some commercial backing to what we’re saying because I think it’s all, you know, it’s, it’s all great, but if you’re in terms of making money as a designer, but suddenly if you hear, if this new thing about strategy I guess one of the questions is as well,
Matt Davies (01:13):
Can I make any money from it and can, can that put food on the table and even though it might add value to the clients, you know, really how it is there much in it for me I guess is a kind of a kind of a question we might ask ourselves. So I guess first of all, Jacob, let’s, let me ask you, in terms of your journey and in terms of your approach to sales, as you transitioned into more of a strategic space and as you’re on that journey, how has how has it kind of panned out? Like how has it changed your approach to sales? Tell us a bit about that journey and and what your thoughts are on that.
Jacob Cass (01:51):
For sure. So I’m just going to take it back a little bit and it’s to where you actually find out about this strategy. And once you learn about strategy, you need to really explore all the avenues of what it is because there’s a lot of fog in there about what it is. And for me, I, as soon as I heard about it, I started exploring different courses, books and started reaching out to different people. So I want to understand what it meant to different people and how they facilitated strategy before I could actually go out and sell it because I didn’t know how to sell it cause I didn’t really know how to facilitate it in a proper way. So I was always, always doing some form of strategy to help my design work. But it wasn’t what I thought strategy was or what is strategy.
Jacob Cass (02:40):
So to, to put that in perspective I couldn’t sell strategy. Well let’s talk about the sales because before I used to use a questionnaire and I’d have a questionnaire on my site which would ask the the client all the questions. So just filled in all the blanks and I put a proposal together based on what they filled out in the questionnaire. And yeah, it worked for a number of years, but it really positioned me as an order taker in some respect, not entirely, but there was no way to build up trust in that way. There was no dialogue back and forth. So that was really the biggest shift for me is getting rid of that questionnaire and going into a format of credit, creating a relationship with the client. And that was either through a phone call or emails or video call. And
Matt Davies (03:40):
That’s, that’s absolutely awesome. Can I, can I come in there just for one second? So I also relate to that. Those that have heard the previous episodes will know. I used to run an agency and I remember very distinctly having one of those forms that you talk about and it literally asks the user to basically select what they wanted. Like literally, do you want a brochure? Do you want a website? Do you want, you know, what is it? And I guess like you as time went on, you realize actually people don’t know and actually doing a little leaflet or something is not really going to solve their problem. Like there’s gotta there’s a much bigger problem behind this. There’s, there’s more of a strategy required even just from a marketing perspective, let alone getting into the depths of the brand. So, I don’t know, I think we automatically gravitate towards that, don’t we?
Matt Davies (04:34):
Because we kind of want to make life easy for ourselves so we get an easy brief and then we can execute against it. But really it shouldn’t be about us. It should be about the customer, it should be about the client. And in my journey, what happened with me was in my agency, we, I employed a guy who used to work for eon who were a big energy company here in the UK and he was one of my account managers. And he said to me, one of, one of the problems we used to face was when we used to get a brief submitted from this form, we would actually, you know, we do a bit of sales, do a proposal, get it back, and then we start executing against it. And we think we’d think we’d fulfill the brief and we’d send it to the client, but the client would for some reason not be happy with it and then it would come back with edits.
Matt Davies (05:19):
And I’m sure most designers have come across this scenario where we’re back and forth, back and forth, and it drives clients nuts because they’re like, why don’t they just understand what I need? And it drives CRA designers crazy because they’re like, well, hang on, we’ve done what you’ve said. And in the end, the project gets, everyone gets a bit better about it and everyone just can’t be bothered with it. Let’s be honest. That’s what happens. So anyway, my colleague who I who I’d employed, he said to me, Matt, why don’t we why don’t we do some workshops, like a kickoff workshop? So it wasn’t called a workshop though. I think we just called it like a kickoff meeting or something. So I was like, yeah, alright, alright Paul, off you go, you know these are for workshop if you think that will solve the problem cause it kept happening on his accounts, which wasn’t his fault.
Matt Davies (06:04):
It just, it just was. That was the, that was it. Anyway, so I said, do you mind if I sit in while you do this? So he said yeah. And so he brought designers in and he brought me in as the creative director at the time he was there and then the client brought various people from their side and what we found was just doing that from a briefing perspective. We got so much insight that it was super helpful in terms of this back and forth. And then what that led to was us actually taking control more of those meetings and shaping them into, I guess what I now do as a sort of a strategy workshop over, I can do them over a week with leadership teams. But you know, initially the smallest one would be an afternoon where you’d sort of sit down and really talk about why the, why the company exists and who exists to serve. So I also shifted in terms of that and completely hear what you’re saying. We sort of abandoned the form after a while and yeah, it’s more about a conversation and the way I do sales now in massively different to, to way back when. Anyway, I kind of cut across you very rudely. Do you want to, do you want to keep going with your, with your story and then maybe I’ll cut across you again in a minute. I’m used to it. Don’t worry.
Matt Davies (07:18):
I got on this
Jacob Cass (07:20):
Well, offer the question. So yeah, Scott, the questionnaire, it did work for a long, long time. But yeah, I was experiment experimenting with different ways to go through the sales process. And I went to through two different methods and one was I received an email and then I scheduled a call and it was generally about a 30 minute call and I got kind of a kind of discovery period, if you will. And from that information I put together a proposal that offered them three different packages, like an expensive one, a mid-price Wanda and a budget one more or less with a skit scaled approach. And that works well. But I’ve also been experimenting with a 15 minute introduction, Cole and Ben garden going into a paid discovery period which would then late into proposal. So I’ve tried to, I’ve tried both ways and both work much better than the questionnaire method because you can establish trust and establish your expertise and show your knowledge about this subject.
Jacob Cass (08:23):
And that is really worth wonders for me. And the more I’ve learned about strategy with all those courses and the books that I keep mentioning the better you can talk about it. And that’s how you can sell strategy is by talking and listening as well. Not, not just proposal or just showing them a piece of paper because you’re not going to, it’s not going to get those big numbers that way and you’re not going to solve big problems either. You’re just going to be during pretty much order taking. So that’s really what’s worked.
Matt Davies (08:54):
Oh, I was gonna say on the numbers. Yeah. I’m going to cut your shit. I was just gonna say the numbers. You make an interesting point because if you were to ask yourself like why do we get paid? Right? Just as a big, big hairy question. I think the best answer to that that I’ve come across is we get paid by adding value,
Jacob Cass (09:15):
Right?
Matt Davies (09:16):
So you get paid as much as the other person perceives your value to be. Now if you position yourself as a commodity based kind of designer, then you are going to be treated like that. Right? But if you position yourself as an expert who can add huge value, very specific to their situation, you can then charge the bigger numbers. Like you were saying. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that your new approach as has kind of opened up new opportunities and new, you know, new, new, new sort of value, the value gap has increased because you’re adding more value at the start, understanding the problem much better before then supplying a proposal to answer that. So that’s really interesting. Tell me about those. Just if you wouldn’t mind, like tell us about the the two approaches. So one is that you get you, you do the call and then you put proposals together. What I’m interested in is that the next one that you talked about, which was you do the call, you almost sell in very early at discovery process and you get paid for that, which I think is remarkable. I’ve never been paid for discovery, at least not that I’m aware of. And then and then you, and then you put your proposal together at that point. Like that’s, that’s amazing. Like talk to me about how that discovery phase kind of works it, you know, that the client is painful.
Jacob Cass (10:39):
Yes, sir. It’s pretty much the investment too. It’s a small investment for them. And they can start to establish that trust with you and start to realize how you’re going to benefit the the business by and improving that brand and that goals and all of that. So we can focus in on all the big questions. And that’s what you can’t do in a 15, 30 minute call before you send a proposal. So that’s really what the discovery is all about and showing that value as you spoke about. And that really gets them to see the big picture, which allows you to sell through the idea of brand strategy and all the extra collateral that’s going to come off of that. Because you can actually start to talk about bigger things like social media and marketing and not just have the logo and identity as the result. It’s, it’s actually thinking big. And that’s really why this discovery period is so useful and yeah, but I think a lot of the the common problems is that that is the end result. It’s just the identity package. It’s nothing, nothing else. So I think, yeah, that’s, that’s the value in it.
Jacob Cass (11:45):
Hmm. So I’m not really to go from there. I was going to, I was going to, maybe we can give an of, well could you give an example of how you do it in terms of the bigger companies, cause I know you work on retainers some sometimes and you can go into and you go into larger companies and talk with the leadership team. Like what is your method of selling strategy to them? I remember you saying that you have a long,
Matt Davies (12:18):
Yeah, I mean, so, so two things. Two things come to mind. First of all, what I’m about to say probably sounds like magic dust to some people because it takes, but, but, but really the magic dust is time, right? If that makes sense. So if you look at my social media, if you look at my website, if you look at what my activity, which some people may have started to do, if they’ve come across as crazy bearded guy and talking to Jacob CAS, maybe they have, maybe they have, what you’ll notice is that I give a lot away. Like I don’t hide anything back. So I give tips, I give tools. I I do at least one blog post a week, which goes out to an email list. I have, I’m a lead generation kind of thing on my website where if you basically put in your contact details, you get a free download, an ebook.
Matt Davies (13:14):
But obviously then you’re on my, my, my kind of emailing list. And so I’m in touch with a lot of people, a lot of time, a lot of the time, if that makes sense. Now that is a huge engine. It takes a lot of effort. You do loads of stuff like that as well, Jacob. I know, but, but what that, so everything I’m going to say is predicated on the back of doing a lot of work, not area of generating awareness because that I think is your first the first thing you’ve got to be aware of. Like I think a lot of designers think, well, I’m an awesome designer. Everyone’s going to come to me. And I used to being honest, have that attitude. Like I don’t blow my own trumpet. You know, everyone’s just going to come to me. And one day someone said to me, Matt, do you know what?
Matt Davies (14:00):
Like, cause I used to say like, I’d really don’t like this kind of arrogant approach of putting myself out there doing lasers of PR and all this stuff. And someone said to me, I think it’s the opposite. I don’t think you’re arrogant if you do that. And I was like, what? And they said it’s arrogant to sit in a room, right? And just expect people to come to you. You have to show your soul to the world. You have to share what’s on offer. And if people like it, then they will come to you. If they don’t, then then you need to change. And so it’s, it’s kind of weird because I think definitely I don’t, I mean, I don’t know what it’s like in Australia, but being British, we like to think we’re like, you know, all kind of reserved and stuff so it doesn’t come naturally to kind of push out yourself.
Matt Davies (14:45):
But if you do not, there is no way people are gonna really come to you as a and so everything else I’m going to say is going to be predicated on the back of that effort in the awareness of me as a brand is of the Matt Davis Brown. You do a lot of that stuff. Do you want to add anything in there? Just before I, this is a, there’s a common phrase that if you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will. So it’s, so you do have to toot your own horn to be seen and that’s, that’s really how you get exposure. And like you said, awareness is part of that funnel. So I do a ton of inbound marketing and that’s really a very broad approach. So I get a lot of awareness, I get a lot of traffic and I have a lot of content that shows my expertise in this area.
Matt Davies (15:27):
And that’s really how the relationship starts, is that that’s all out there. And then I see that at expertise and then they approach you and you go from there. So that’s the high trust and that’s the high part of the funnel that we didn’t really talk about before we got into actual questionnaires and start a session on that. Maybe do a session on that because I mean I know you’ve been doing it for years and in fact, just a little sort of a trivia side note. The reason why me and Jacob are doing this is because when I ran my agency we always used to try and look at getting quite high up from an SEO perspective for the various search phrases and the flipping guy, you can’t be in us all the time. Drive me and my team crazy was this Jacob Cass and he was apps just bro know, just creative drive me.
Matt Davies (16:16):
Absolutely mental. And so we were like buying one or two some very key spots and, and so I came across Jake of years ago from that. He infuriated me back then. He’s still infuriates me now. But it’s better together. Right. So we joined, we joined up but, but yeah, so I know you’ve been there for years. I know there’s tons probably that you could share on that. Let’s move on though because I think we really want to focus in on the selling that. So the next, the next thing is, is that once one on the awareness from, one of the things that I do do is a lot of business talks and I’ve found that they are the key for me when I, cause I’m positioning myself not as a designer, as a consultant, as a brand strategy consultant. In fact, I’ve now been calling myself a brand and culture strategy consultant and I’ll explain that maybe a little later.
Matt Davies (17:06):
But basically what a consultant does is very different from say a kind of a, a design agency or a designer approach. Because what you do as soon as you call yourself as a consultant, as soon as you say that, you’re now not selling a commodity, you’re selling ideas, you’re selling frameworks, you’re selling thinking, which is, you know more of a problem solving approach than if you say, I sell a brochure design or I sell web design or whatever it might be. So initially just by what you call yourself is, is important in terms of how it works though is I tend to get up, I give a talk, people connect to my social media, they see me over time and sometimes it can be six months, eight months, but if they’ve got a problem in their leadership team that brand thinking can solve, I want to be number one in the box in their head to solve that problem.
Matt Davies (18:08):
So I want to dominate that space as much as I can in my region. And now I’ve started to go a little bit outside the region. I’m doing work all over the world. So I’d say start in your region, dominate it, like speak at business events. If, if you’ve got that skill, definitely get your awareness programmer then. Then when they come to approach you, it’s almost like you don’t have to do any hard work in a sense because they already know that you are living and breathing this stuff. They’ve seen pictures of you on social media running, you know, workshops with leadership teams. There’s no question in their minds that you can do this. You’ve got to get that kind of trust, those, that, that kind of energy behind you. And it’s hard work guys. Like I don’t want you to think it’s easy.
Matt Davies (18:57):
Then once I get approached, usually it’s not quite as structured approach to your doors. Jacob’s so mine because I don’t have at the moment any overheads, right? I, I’m here in my house, right? And I have a laptop, a high end laptop. I have, you know, very little, but I need but basically I have my brain, my personality and my bed and those three things together. I, I, I, my experience, I guess those whose combined help hopefully add huge value, but they won’t ha add value to everybody, but only to people who need a particular person like me to come in and solve their problem. What’s the problem that brand solves or I solve is really alignment issues in a leadership team. And I use brand to go into help them all gel together to push the company to the next phase.
Matt Davies (19:53):
So what I’m looking for, I look for CEOs who are, who are looking to make a change, but for some reason they can’t do it. And usually it’s because there’s this personality issue in their team or, or maybe they just don’t have the thinking something’s holding them back. So I might get approached by a CEO for example, and I then the sales process begins. So what does that look like? Well, often they’ll say something like, they automatically jumped to a deliverable because people always do that. They always think, Oh, I need this. So they’ll say, Oh man, I need you to come in and do a leadership team a workshop, you know, with us to figure out our brand, which is lovely. And you know, very, you know, it’s very, it’s very nice always to be approached to do something like that because that person is obviously agonized over the approach to someone like me for a while had to literally sort of deal with it.
Matt Davies (20:49):
Why can’t we do this on our own? And then they looked at me and thought, wow, this guy could help. So I don’t take that lightly. But I also, like you were saying, Jacob, I don’t want to offer something that doesn’t really solve the problem. So what I do, I don’t, I wish I could, I mean, maybe I need to think about this like paid discovery thing, but I’m maybe just too, I don’t do that. I just sit down with them. Usually it’s a, you know, I either have a long call with them or have a coffee with them. Sometimes it’s a number of email exchanges. Sometimes the process can take a month or two because I don’t like to jump into a working relationship unless I know I can add huge value. So what I do is I, I’m looking to establish in the early stages some very clear things.
Matt Davies (21:37):
I want to understand what is the objective of working with someone like me, right? So what’s the end result? What does that even look like? What does success taste like? Some people have a very numbers driven approach. Some people have like for example, I’ve was doing some work with a global confectionary brand. And I was working with a team, a leadership team within their biggest structure. So they’re global. I was working with the UK team on one sort of division and they had to fit their division into the wider sort of global strategy. And they were just really struggling and they all had different views. So that’s a sort of very special, difficult, different approach to say a CEO who just wants to change to, to, to hit some more numbers for his board. So you just have to kind of understand what are the objectives what is the key results, how are we going to measure those results?
Matt Davies (22:39):
And you know why? So I like to ask why like five, five times can EG Toyota approach, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. He’s like this the Japanese go started basically started Toyota and his approach was to ask why five times to get to the root cause of any particular issue or problem. So you’ve got to, you’ve got to ask why. One other thing you, you want to ask is, well, two other things you want to ask is what happens if we don’t do this right? What would happen if you don’t get me in? What would you do like and why me? And the first place is another question. Like, what do you think I’ve got that, that, that would help you. Now if I get answers to those questions, like, well, you know, you just, we just liked, you know, your beard or something and there’s nothing meaningful behind it.
Matt Davies (23:31):
It’s probably not a good fit. Like, I need someone to say, Matt, we need someone with your crazy personality because yeah, I need someone to go toe to toe politely, positively, energetically with my team. And I don’t really know anyone else like you who’s offering what you’re offering. Now we can talk, cause now I’m like, right, I can add huge value here. There’s no one else in the game. And it’s really, really great. I know one thing I used to hate when I ran design agencies was and I don’t know if you ever get this Jacob, but this kind of invitation to tender, right? So it’s like, Oh, can you tender for our, you know, materials over the next year or even just for a project. And so you’re immediately commoditized because you’re immediately put against other people. Whereas if you do your awareness work correctly in this space, you can be the only one, only fish in a game, if that makes sense.
Matt Davies (24:26):
The only fish in the pond, if they don’t, they, they need you. So they’re gonna, they want you. And that’s a very, as soon as I shifted to strategy and that started happening, like I was like, wow, this is just, this is unbelievable. Because for my whole career, I was fighting, fighting, fighting against the competition. And now there wasn’t a competition. It was easy, easy to do the sale. So I think I mean, I say easy, the hard work is done at the start, you know, so it’s not actually easy, but it feels easier by the time you get to this point of having these conversations. So that’s, that’s kind of how it works. Now if I, if, if, if we sort of going through that and we’re building trust like you were saying like in your discovery thing, you build some trust.
Matt Davies (25:10):
It then comes on to, okay, I don’t want to do anything with them at this point. I’m just asking questions. But when they say, right, okay, so how do we move this on? How do we get you in map? And that’s where the conversation talks takes an interesting turn. So I always like to talk to who I call. Well, I think I’m actually, I’m going to recommend a book. Alan vice million dollar consultant, right? Allen vice is like the original guy who, who championed value based billing. He championed consultancy approaches, which are principles, the principles, which are, are absolutely fantastic. So definitely check him out. We’ll put a link in, in, in the, in the, in the, the blurred. But basically he calls it the economic buyer and I think that’s absolutely best way of looking at it.
Matt Davies (26:05):
I don’t want to talk to a marketing manager who doesn’t have the ability to sign off on a budget. I need to talk to the person who’s got the money. So as soon as they start saying, right, well that’s great mate. Like how do we get you in? And then need to say, well, look who’s going to sign off on this budget? I need to talk to that person. And so I may have spent a month talking to one person. They may not, they may be the wrong person and then I might have to start all over again with a completely new person. But that’s okay because I don’t put a proposal to the wrong person. So a waste of time. It’s an absolute waste of time. People don’t buy consultants because, or you know, strategists because you know, they see it on a piece of paper, they buy the energy and they buy the thinking and they buy the personality a lot of the time of the consultant.
Matt Davies (26:51):
So that’s, that’s the truth of it. People buy people. So I have to get in front of the right person who’s going to buy me, if that makes sense. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time. So I sit down with them, I do the whole thing. I get in front of the decision maker, the economic buyer, and then I move, we move the conversation into what, what I call a conceptual agreement, which is basically I say stuff like, so if I was to come along and run a series of workshops, which gets you to the result that your whole leadership team globally is on board with a core purpose, a core audience that your brand wants to serve, would you say that that would be kind of success for the first phase of the project? And they might say, yeah, that sounds great. And I don’t specify the amount of workshops, the amount of calls I don’t do, I do not sell my time.
Matt Davies (27:47):
So I think that’s probably a good segue here to sort of talk a little bit about that. The great thing that strategy allows you to do is to break out of selling time. So I don’t know what your experience is this with, this is Jacob. But definitely the way I was taught to, to do the business of design was to look at a project, you know, roughly work out how much time I could spend in each area conceptualizing presenting meetings, project management, you know, artwork, ING delivering or whatever it might be. And then figure out the time and then I just create a, an hourly rate. Like our hourly rate is a hundred pound an hour or something. And that would become the value to the client. Is that something that you’ve come across before?
Jacob Cass (28:34):
Well, I’ve, I’ve always worked on a project basis and it’s, it’s about figuring out what their goals are like you. So that is part of the discovery process is to figure out how to get them from a to B. And that could be in a number of different ways. So to bring us back down to designers, cause I know you’re a pure strategist. I’m design and strategy, a lot of a lot of clients come to me for logo design or identity design. Cause that’s really what I share in my portfolio. It’s a lot of that type of work. So they’ll come to me saying, I want a logo and then we’ll ask, why do you want to let go? Why do you want, why is it, why do you want it from me and why now? So similar questions and that really leads me, excuse me, that leads me down to talking about strategy because it’s, it’s about I started using metaphors and like I talk about internal branding and external branding.
Jacob Cass (29:28):
And so you could use a, like a car metaphor iceberg, but I suppose it goes pretty well because everything below the surface you can’t see. So it’s the it’s the internal aspects of the brand. So the why, the purpose, the vision, the core values, all of that sort of stuff. And then the logo is a typically aspect is what everyone sees. So that’s what you want. But to get there we have to build it up. It’s like a, it’s like a a house you have to build a house on without solid foundations and yada yada. You get to see all the metaphors we can use. So this is a good way to, this is a good way to sell through strategy to, to talk about things as in other ways. So it’s like a car. It’s an engine. It gets you to be a, you’re not going to get to be without a good engine.
Jacob Cass (30:13):
It’s not just a veneer on the car, so it’s not the paint job. So there’s a whole ton of different metaphors you can use and it works wonders. But yeah, like you said, the biggest thing is the goal question cause that can start to, you can start to dive deeper to figure out what they’re actually trying to do. I’m not doing culture or much leadership in my practice, so agency. So it’s really interesting to see your perspective there. But yeah, often it will go through this discovery process and we’ll figure out actually what has to be done and then draw up a proposal.
Matt Davies (30:47):
I guess where I was angling was D how do you place a value on a project then? Because because how I used to do it, and it’s not how I do it now, was I used to just work out how many hours it might take me, well my team to deliver something. I know I’d give that hour like, like almost like the hour was a product, like one hour is a hundred pounds. Right. And then I would, and I know that I would basically package my end quotes to reflect that. How do you do it?
Jacob Cass (31:19):
There’s no exact science for, for any of this process. And now I wish I did have a, a method to that. But it is generally per price, per project and per client. So figuring out what they need and I don’t work on any of my alley rights because I know sometimes I can do a job in, in half a day and other time it could take a week or two. So it, I don’t ever work out hours. I just, that’s to me, I work fast sometimes and sometimes it’s a bigger problem. So
Matt Davies (31:47):
I think, I think you’re probably ahead of the game there. I mean, maybe it was just me and maybe it was just my school of, of upbringing in design. But yeah, I think I definitely agree with that because one of the things that if you do approach it by the hourly rates I, it used to infuriate me loads because really it was kind of an immoral thing really because it was early at the construct in the designer’s head that it took three hours. The client didn’t really care about that. The client wants the outcome of those three hours and they don’t take, they don’t actually care whether it’s three hours or 15 hours. As long as they get the, the end deliverable results, they don’t care. And so we are a disadvantages as designers in regards to that because you know, on the one hand you’ve got, you know, you might have staff, you might have, you know, therefore you pay them usually by the hour you might have overheads like your office or your studio.
Matt Davies (32:50):
I had a lovely studio in the central Nottingham here in the UK, and that obviously costs me a set amount per month, which you could divide down into the hourly blocks so you could work out or roughly per hour, I need to make X to be profitable, right? So it’s kind of a natural thing, but it’s completely only on the agency side. And so that’s the problem. And so now, I mean, now I’ve done away with my overheads and my staff and you know, basically I’m, I’m just me. I haven’t done a way of my stuff that sounds like I’ve like murdered them or something. They’re all happily working elsewhere. Now, some years on I would say this is going back some years, but in terms of, I’m just talking about the shift for me now I’m on my own. I have the ability to work on a value based sort of basis without the stress of worrying about any huge overheads.
Matt Davies (33:40):
So what, what now tends to happen is, is I’m trying to work out how much the project is worth to the client, right? If they solve this problem, if they get their leadership team pointing in the same direction, if they if they get a clear understanding of their new brand that they’re going to kind of rise like a Phoenix out of some problem that they’ve had in the past to reposition themselves. What, what value is that to them? You know, what’s there, you know, and why can’t they do this right now? Like you were saying and why now? So if, if it’s huge value, then I might take it if even if it’s not monetary value, I might take the project if it’s like a charity or something. And I think I can add value and I think it would be a great product to work on.
Matt Davies (34:24):
It doesn’t always have to be money. It could be some other other sort of interest that could connect you to it. But once you’ve reached some sort of conceptual agreement, we know where we want to go. We don’t want to, we know the result that we’re trying to get to. I don’t want to specify all the stages. Like you were saying like, you could work really quick, I’d get it done or you could take it, can take your gauges. I remember one time about about eight months ago, I was approached and by a company that we’re turning over about five, 6 million pounds and they needed to, they want to come in to the next level. And they were like, man, we think we need about, I think they said something like six workshops. And they literally like specified what they wanted to nail in each workshop and that will get us to this result.
Matt Davies (35:07):
And I said, okay, well can we just focus on the result if I can get you there within three months, I don’t want to S I don’t want to specify all these things. Are you just happy that I will focus on getting you there and I’ll give you weekly updates as to how we’re going? And they said, yeah. So in the end I did it in managed to do it in two workshops plus a number of individual interviews with some of the leaders. So that then otherwise otherwise I could have gone down this eight there. I could have dragged it out them, it could have been really painful, but yeah, I would have hit what we agreed but, but it doesn’t give you enough chance if you specify everything to pivot. And so you need to kind of create an agreement whereby it’s fair for both people.
Matt Davies (35:51):
It allows you as a strategy just to pivot and change as, as necessary. But it also gets them where they need to go by a set time usually. And so what I tend to do how does that work? You might say, cause that’s probably like really, you know, it’s quite difficult. So what are you putting in your proposal? So good point. So we get to the point where it’s proposal. So I will then always outline the current situation, the objectives of the project, which we’ve already agreed. If I can, I will also include any details about the value. You know, that, that, that they, that they see in it, I then have a section on accountabilities. So what I will do and what they will do. And typically it looked like basically I asked for free reign. Right? But I also usually if it’s the leadership team and if it’s particularly, I usually work, as I said at the start with a CEO, I’ll usually say to them, look, I will report into you say every two weeks or something, right?
Matt Davies (36:54):
We’ll have a scheduled call and I’ll speak to you. I don’t really want to talk to anyone else on talk to the, to the CEO. And I’ll report in where we are, you know, with your leadership team and how they’re doing. And the way that it tends to, similar to you is I always put in a section called objectives. Sorry, let me just say that again. Options, not objectives, options. So like you said, like you priced them a very cheap option, which still gets them where they want to go. But perhaps it’s like for example, I might say, I will work with your marketing director for example, and coach them over the six months to get you there. Right. so I’m not actually, I’m, I, I call it like backstage, if you know what I mean. Like I literally would just have weekly or you know, whatever it necessary, weekly calls with your marketing director and then biweekly calls with you to let you know how we’re doing and I’ll advise and steer from, from the sidelines.
Matt Davies (37:51):
Another one might be, look, I will I will do a ton of work at the start. So I will set the direction, I’ll do a load of workshops and maybe I will and we will reach some sort of initial agreement or where we want to go, but then I will, I will work too with your team to deploy it. So in other words like I might it might have something in there around me working with the marketing director for example, to appoint a design agency to help put flesh on the bones or me working with the HR director to likewise, you know, have a design agency common look at the employee brand or employer brand or something like that. Mmm. But then the third is like sky high and it basically is like, I will come and join your board basically for a period of time and I will sit on your board, I will execute, you will give me a budget, I will basically do this for you and take responsibility and accountability for it.
Matt Davies (38:51):
So that is, that’s insanely expensive for them. But I, no one ever really goes for it. I’m just in conversations are only just this week about a potential where that might happen. But what the options are designed to do, and I’m sure there’s, there’s loads you could talk about this as well cause you’re, you’re obviously doing it, but what they’re designed to do is help people sort of see the value in the different stages of, of what they get out of you. And I might change those options. I might put different things in and move them around depending on the project and the problem. But what they allow people to do is benchmark. So if you just give one fee for one thing, like you know, like, like perhaps I might have done when I was sort of starting out, there’s nowhere to go.
Matt Davies (39:38):
Either you liked that or you don’t like that as a client. And so that’s the end. If they don’t mind, if you give them three options, it’s like, well flip that, that’s really expensive. I’d love to get map to come and do that, but it’s too expensive. What’s the next option down? Oh that one. Okay. It still gets me where I want to go. I think that’s a good deal. Let’s do that. And so they’re benchmarking against you. Whereas if you just put one fee, maybe then they’ll get other fees and you’re then being compared compared to other proposals rather than comparing them to just three options that you could deliver. I think that’s it in a nutshell.
Jacob Cass (40:16):
On top of that, on top of that I also only have one for one price for each package. I don’t ever split line items for anything. So so let’s say the first packages, logo, identity design that’s all as one package is not split logo design and then style guide and then so forth or the next package up could be this, the strategy. It’s everything is either take it or leave it. And then the next one out can use whatever we found in the discovery process, the strip, the social media strategy a website or whatever it may be is all in that package. So it’s just packages is not ever broken down. Websites sometimes because they’re bigger projects that are kind of just estimated and then we’ll have another discussion about it. But generally that’s how I keep the packages simple and it leaves no room for negotiate well negotiation or removing things. So like the, I want to take this out, I want to take this out or with wine. Oh, cherry picking I should say. So that’s a, a good method to use to, to help sell through proposals and avoid any
Matt Davies (41:22):
Back and forth. Yeah, definitely. I think because, because I’m literally just playing in the strategy space. It’s funny to hear you talk because I, yeah, I tend to any project items to work on that has designed aye. Aye is that as a kind of the end bit. I tend to be the D the advisor, the trusted advisor or the creative director. You could call it art director influence in that. But then what I would tend to do is connect my clients with other agencies who I know a great in a particular space or other designers like yourself who I know would be perfect for that particular project. And so that’s also the value that I, I would bring, but then I would go out to them. And you know, often they will be quoting, you know, I line by line item by item and then I’d be the guy like you were saying, that would just be like, can we take that out and put that in or whatever and I’d be the one.
Matt Davies (42:16):
But you’re right, there’s no need as long as you’ve got a very clear objective, like where do we want to get to at the end of it, everyone should just trust kind of that we’re going to head for that. And and there should be a, I agree, fixed fee, a project fee then we can all budget towards it. The challenge comes, I think when you’ve got a bigger agencies and they’ve got bigger overheads and staff and the setup of that becomes a challenge. And I was never able being completely honest to solve that as a, as a, as a business owner in the design studio and I run I run another marketing agency, digital marketing agency. We also struggled with that much bigger one. So it’s kind of, I mean, if anyone’s got any answers to this, it’d be great. It’d be great, but I don’t, I don’t know if there is a clear answer to it unless unless you move over to the, the sort of the, the model that I’m on and that Jacob’s on, which is, which is a lot more sort of nimble I guess to it.
Matt Davies (43:14):
But maybe, maybe there are some answers. We just I just haven’t found them yet. Yeah, I think
Jacob Cass (43:23):
Pretty thorough episode. I hope you have come to realize how to sell strategy in some different ways and three, three different options from me that the original questionnaire option and then the email discovery or email call and then the retainer method from you or a long burn method as well as other tips and tricks. So if you have other questions, please do let us know. I’m not sure if you had anything else to add, Matt.
Matt Davies (43:54):
Yeah. just very, very briefly, one thing I probably didn’t explain is what goes into the retainers. If I can I come back, I kept mentioning it and then you never smoked. Well, yeah, we can maybe cut this bit out and put it earlier. So just to, just to finish up then on the retainers, Jacob, one of the things that I think is good to put in at least from a strategy perspective is you can work towards an end goal over the, literally some of the strategy work I’m working on might be six months, right? So one of the projects for example at the moment that I’ve got is Barry’s a big hairy goal at the of the six months. And then there’s three checkpoints which we’ve roughly agreed. So one is to create a culture, a culture strategy. One is to create the leadership strategy.
Matt Davies (44:41):
And then the other is the brand strategy, which is, there’s three little things there. And I define that in the proposal. And then I say, look, I’ve got a fixed fee per month of X. Mmm. Would you pay me monthly? And then all I do is I work towards those, those three mini objectives, which lead up to the one big kind of hairy objective. And I will give you a, a call every two weeks with the CEO. So it’s fixed. So they know what they’re getting with me. If there’s any problems, if I, if I negate it on any of my accountabilities, then they have, you know, they can can it and vice versa. If they don’t do that to me, they can, then we can count it. But, but ultimately a lot of people, you know, once they start working with you as an individual, they, and if you’ve positioned yourself right, they want you and it’s not so much you trying to sell to them. And so it’s a very different kind of a kettle of fish perhaps to, to just being looked at as a commodity. So that would be kind of my parting message really, is to look at yourself as a, as a key part of delivering a brand and strategy. Not as like the, the guy at the end who’s just polishing the car as you sort of, I just sort of alluded to in your, in your, in your kind of a method
Jacob Cass (45:59):
Metaphors. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s, that’s all I’d say. So, yeah. Basically to summarize, it’s about outlining goals and objectives and showing what results you’re going to give them. That’s it in a nutshell. And to Josh, facilitate or understand what their goals are for you to guide him through this process, talk to them, and listen. That’s the biggest part. And knowing the questions to ask. So once you learn that you can sell strategy and get them to where they need to be,
Matt Davies (46:28):
Definitely think that’s brilliant. Great summary. So thanks. Thanks very much folks. That’s it from me and Jacob. Thanks guys.

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