Creative agency Zulu Alpha Kilo penned an article two years ago that’s still very relevant: “Say No To Spec.” In an industry filled with favors and freebies, it’s a good reminder to weigh the merits of doing work for free:
As we showed in our recent video featuring real people being asked to do spec, diners don’t fork over free meals. Personal Trainers don’t do your workouts on spec or give away their intellectual property. So why are we giving away our ideas? Like the guy in our video says, “Who would ever agree to that?” Sadly, we know the answer.
On the surface it may seem like a good idea for clients to harvest a smorgasbord of free ideas during the pitch process, but it can actually do more harm than good.
Legendary designer Jeff Zeldman recently authored a post entitled “Why Don’t Nonprofit Sites Convert?” He raises a point to ditch the focus on the about/mission/board and instead on giving the visitor what they want first, and the foundation something second:
“[P]ut yourself in the member’s shoes. What does that member wish to achieve on your website? Have you created transactions and content that allow her to do what she came to do? Have you designed and written menus, links, and headlines that help her find the content that matters to her? Forget the organization, for now. Pretend the only thing that matters is what the user wants. (Because, ultimately, it is.)
Do these things, and weave your singular, simple conversion opportunity into each screen sequence with which your user interacts. To optimize your chance of success, place the conversion opportunity at the very point where the user successfully finishes transacting the business that mattered to her. Not before (where it is only a distraction). Not in another part of the site (which she has no interest in visiting). She’s a lot likelier to sign up for your mailing list after you’ve helped her donate food to her neighbors than she is to sign up in an unsolicited popup window.”
Entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk “crushes it” with sales tips day and night. (We even profiled him back in 2008 for standing out from the crowd.) One thing he’s written recently that resonated with creatives is part of an article called “5 Best Tips For Salespeople,” where one is about just creating more content:
In 2017, there is zero excuse not to be creating content around your product, service, company or brand.
Because of the iPhone and the internet, and social media, anyone can produce and distribute. Just 15 years ago, if you wanted to create a commercial to promote your brand, you would need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on media and marketing. Today, you can literally use your smartphone, record a 2 minute clip and run ads on Facebook. The cost of entry has dropped 100 fold.