Archive for May, 2008

The Likeability Factor

The current close race to secure the Democratic presidential nomination has lead to a focus on electability. And if any of you follow any of the late-night talk shows, especially The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, you also know the issue of electability has become many comedy writer’s favorite go-to joke.

Why? Because how do you define the state of being electable as president, unless it has already occurred? The only people who know for sure who have presidential electability are those who have already served as president. And what bothers many people about politicians, across the political spectrum, is their willingness, indeed, their seeming compulsion, to change characteristics and beliefs in their desire to become more electable.

Which brings us to the Likeability issue many of us in the industry grapple with. To work effectively with a client, there has to been some level of mutual respect and understanding. A good client will appreciate your skills, insight, and talents, and value your ability to improve their surroundings. To deliver this type of service, we must be open, understanding and patient, remembering that we have the rare gift of being invited into someone’s home, someone’s life, in order to make a positive change. 

But, as we’ve discussed previously, projects can often become more than just about the design…we become part psychologist, part therapist. And this is where the things become murky. Too often we allow ourselves to let the Likeability Issue to become overly important, to the detriment of business.

1. You don’t bill for all your time, because she’s a “good client”

2. You don’t bill for all your time because she’s a new client and you’re trying to establish a good relationship

3. You don’t bill for all your time because it seems like she’ll be a good client and you don’t want to “scare” her off

4. You don’t bill for all your time because it seems like she’s going through a lot right now and you just want to make things a bit easier for her.

Recognize yourself in any of these? If so, you’re letting the Likeability Issue get in the way of your business. When people pay you money to make, do or provide something for them, that’s a business relationship, not a friendship. Don’t let your very real human desire to be liked get in the way of building a profitable business.

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5 May 2008 at 6:26 pm 1 comment

Friday Design Focus #3: Folly Cove Designers

I was a huge reader as a kid. Do you remember those reading challenges libraries used to have in the summer (I don’t know they still may)…I would just devour books! So I was really fascinated to discover that one of my favorite author/illustrators from those (too long ago) summers also headed up a design collective. Virginia Lee Burton whose works include Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and, my all-time favorite, The Little House, started the Folly Cove Designers, where she and several other talented women created lively wood-block prints in the spirit of Liberty or William Morris.

The Little House

The looks soon drew enough attention that they were retailed in Lord & Taylor and a deal was struck with F. Schumacher (I wonder if they still have the screens!)

Low Low Tide by Virginia Lee Burton

Although the collective disbanded after Burton’s death in 1968, their works is part of the permanent collections of both the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester. Even better, the children of several of the Folly Cove Designers have launched Folly Cove Designers II where 17 of the original blockprint designs are now offered for sale.

Queen Ann\'s Lace by Mary MaletskosHow fantastic is that? Take a look at the Folly Cove Designers II website. I had a hard time deciding what patterns I wanted to show on this post, because I really loved them all!  (Photos courtesy of Folly Cove Designers II)

(Photos courtesy of Folly Cove Designers II)

2 May 2008 at 4:26 pm Leave a comment

Redefining Luxury

Contemporary luxury is, in large part, removed from product. Most consumers today describe luxury as immaterial: time, peace of mind, space, tranquility, etc. Luxury is what is missing from our over-scheduled, over media-ed society, and what’s missing is certainly not product!

So how do you take your product offerings, your skills, your services and redefine them in the client’s mind as a form of contemporary luxury? Take a look at the success of California Closets. They took the process of reorganizing your closet (ugh) and transformed it into a vision of your home as a calm, well-thought out space. (aaah) 

How does what you do:

     * provide more free time (for family/friends/personal interests)?
     * create more or improved space in the home?
     * improve peace of mind?

Think about your products and services in terms of what intangible things you’d most want in your life and try out some messaging around this dematerialized sense of luxury.

1 May 2008 at 3:36 pm 1 comment

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