Win New Work

During a downturn, getting new work and clients is more important than ever. We ask a number of designers how they do it

01 Stand up to scrutiny
"In the current economic climate, we've found that clients scrutinise our design proposals more carefully - including tasks, fees and what the return is likely to be on the investment. So long as we're clear and detailed in how we communicate our service, this is no bad thing as it brings a greater awareness to the value we add, and helps to differentiate us from other agencies."
Sam Aloof, Aloof Design

02 Get the word out
"Keep people up to date on the work the studio is producing. Update the website at least every three months with the latest project work and news. Send out email newsletters and keep your mailing list updated with your latest clients. Make sure you promote each project launch with a small PR push to the latest blogs and magazines. Use social media to keep people informed about what the studio is doing, reading and watching."
Adam Williams, Everywhere

03 Invest in R&D
"Instead of spending all that time spamming the companies you want to work for, spend a month working on something different, something special that will bring you offers later. If it's good enough, the internet and the viral effect will do the rest."
Ricardo Cabello, Mr Doob

04 Three for the price of€¦
"Well, the advice seems obvious: drop the prices a bit... I always try to think of some sort of a bonus for a client when I'm negotiating the final costs. When there are a number of illustrations to be made or the project includes various sizes, I always offer some sort of 'extras'. So when one work costs, let's say, $1000, three works for the same client would cost $2500, and so on..."
Grzegorz Domaradzki

05 Expand your horizons
"Experiment in new areas. Work on projects that experiment with the latest technologies, and allow enough time for these projects to succeed. The skills and experience learnt will soon come in useful during client projects and will help attract new clients."
Adam Williams, Everywhere

06 Project a strong image
"This sounds corny, but you are the one talking to prospective clients. Businessmen like to hire confident specialists, not nervous, slow freelancers. Art directors, creative directors and clients still surf the web everyday, even in a slow economy, so come across strongly."
Matt W Moore

07 Get an agent
"There is a lot of work out there still, but I think it's more difficult to actually find work with good fees. One idea is to have an agent to represent you. They will probably find more clients, and will manage work for you at the same time."
Maurizio Santucci

08 Size isn't everything
"We've found recently that briefs tend to be for smaller pieces of work, as clients look to reduce spending, spread costs and prioritise the most urgent work only. Although these smaller projects may initially look unappealing, we've found that once we've successfully delivered on one or two, there's plenty of them!"
Sam Aloof, Aloof Design

09 You scratch my back!
"Don't be scared to ask clients for contacts or references - they are usually more than willing to introduce you to people. It also works in their favour as, if you are kept healthy as a studio, it's one less thing for them to worry about in terms of finding someone to address their design needs."
Jeff Knowles, Research Studios

10 Strategy and planning
"I sort out my marketing plan every year - try to think of new ways and prepare a budget for that. This year I've gone with a limited-edition run of a scarf plus postcard."
Pomme Chan

11 Pick off the stragglers
"Everyone wants to design for the 'cool' brands - lots of folks don't think of the un-cool brands as prospective clients. So find weak designs and contact those brands. Examine various businesses and pitch better solutions."
Matt W Moore

12 The loss leader
"Speculative work can be worth doing, and can be a way around pitching. The 'test job' route is one that has worked for us; it allows you to get to know the client and work on a live brief without the pressure of the blind pitch situation."
Dan Moore, Studio Output