13 November 2006
Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher

Quote for Design Consultants
"Most presentations begin with research and analysis of the client and then application of your knowledge to their problem. However, these activities are replaceable and non-differentiated. The attainment of knowledge and experience in solving design problems with innovative solutions has intrinsic value; it is difficult and time consuming for anyone to recreate. And, it is labour intensive and time consuming for the design firm to prepare a professional presentation. But, prepare you must, for respect has to be earned."

--Linda Fisher

Business Language & Communication 101

The Need to Speak the Same Language
Invariably, when design firms come to Design Management Resources for consulting services, many of them suffer from the same problem. They are trying to be "all things to all people." It simply doesn't work. That's why we always counsel design firms to specialise in a limited number of specific industries. With a narrow and deep focus, design firms become experts in specific industries. In accordance with that, design firms must become familiar and comfortable with, the verbiage each of its chosen industries employs.

You can see where all of this is leading. . . The most effective business presentations are those in which design firms communicate their messages to corporate buyers of creative services in their own business language. Speaking to prospective clients--in their terms--identifies you with them, and their needs and wants. When you open your presentation, key industry/corporate words and phrases will instantly bond you with these prospects. More importantly, you will gain their trust. The message they get is: you understand them, you know what's important to them and you can concentrate on these factors and really help them! Now, you have a captive audience and a relationship built on respect develops. Your prospects are totally focused on your presentation.

Key Ideas Make Winning Presentations
1. Key ideas are either facts or concepts that you want your audience to remember from your presentation. Your key ideas support your presentation and offer potential clients clear benefits. The firm that can offer potential clients great expertise/knowledge, measures for efficiency, strong brand management skills and additional services--costs prospective clients less--even if their services are higher priced.

2. State your key ideas as if they are 'conclusions' to be logically drawn at the end end of your presentation. Remember: these are the important points that you want your prospect to remember from your presentation. When and if your service costs are equal or slightly more or less than your competitors', the quality of your presentation and proposal will make a significant difference.

3. Use a chart to outline basic expectations of the project: timeline/options/deadline/deliverables. Show on your chart that fees will be due at the end of each phase of the project. Remember: prospective clients are looking to work with leaders. A well-planned presentation with professional charts demonstrates leadership skills, and a firm that employs solid business strategies for its clients.

Remember: It's All about Them
Ask yourself three questions, as you prep for a big presentation.
1. What is the central message of my presentation? Is it written in my prospective client's vernacular, and not mine?
2. Does my presentation clearly demonstrate the value to my potential client?
3. Does my presentation connect to this buyer's corporation's vision, mission and strategies? In other words, have I done my homework about this corporation so that I know what these are?

Remember: your presentation is for their benefit--not yours.

Corporate Lingo
In every industry, and every corporation, there are a few constants. Over and above that, there are words and phrases specific to each industry. Study them. Know them. Use them. The most common corporate buzz words and phrases?
- Product (service) innovation
- New strategic directives
- Global competition
- Business capital: social, technical, intellectual, financial, etc.
- Internal and external venturing
- Distribution chain
- Research & Development: new product development
- ROI (return on investment)

Having a working knowledge of these concepts and using them in your presentations puts you on the same footing as your prospective corporate clients. Having a clear understanding of each clients' corporate directives and needs, enables you to tailor your presentation to each of them. And it makes them focus completely on you, and on your message! This gives you a tremendous edge over your competitors! Remember: you have a meaningful message--one of value--to deliver. Be relaxed and natural. Be sincere. Be convinced in your own mind that your presentation will have a positive impact on your audience.

Filling a Time Slot--or a Mental Slot?
Focus on Delivering Quality Information

When delivering a corporate presentation, do you worry about filling the time slot accorded you? Do you worry about whether you should shorten it a bit, to keep it within the specified time frame? Our advice: don't worry about trying to fill a time slot. In fact, try not to fill it! Rather, fill your prospective client's mind slot. You've already approached them demonstrating that you know all about their company and their needs. You've spoken to them in their language. You've shown them that you understand that your creative solutions will address their corporate mission and directives. You are confident your firm is in sync with their corporate image, and due to your knowledge of ROI, you can deliver more value. Your goal is to partner with this client to help them make their product or service a category leader. You show how your firm will add more value to their organization (than your competitors for the project). You show leadership. You ask the right questions. You show enthusiasm.

By packing your presentation with provocative questions, meaningful ideas and a challenge to action right now--you've given your prospective client real food for thought--"yes, you are right for this project." And, a professional presentation--one that can convey the strongest confidence to the audience in adding value to the corporate organization --will win! So, close the sale! Ask the client, as you wrap up the presentation: "When can we get started?"

In Part 4 of the 4-part series:
Adapting Your Presentation to the Corporate Buyers' Needs

Stay tuned!

For more information, contact:

Design Management Resources
Post Office Box 423
Thompson, CT 06277
T: +1 800 230 3603
F: +1 860 923 3800

Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher is founder and president of Design Management Resources, Inc. She forms strategic partnerships with her clients by consulting with design firm principals to define their mission, position and business goals. Ms. Fisher is a regular on the speaking circuit and conducts intensive workshops to educate design firms about sound business tenets. She has written numerous articles for internationally recognized publications, including How Magazine and Communication Arts. She also writes an international newsletter, "Marketing and Public Relations Tips Exclusively for Design Firms," which is currently read in over 32 countries.

Design Management Resources, Inc.
Design Management Resources provides strategic consulting for design firms who are global leaders - or aim to be. The company specialises in:
- Living Marketing Plans
- Public Relations
- Positioning: Differentiating Strategies to Compete in the Global Marketplace

Visit the website to sign up for free "Monthly Marketing & PR Tips Exclusively for Design Firms."