Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Mad Men Taught Me About The Design Biz

Often times when a designer or illustrator tires of the nine-to-five world and sets off on their own, they make the mistake of thinking all they'll ever have to do is put their creative thinking cap on. That's why people hire us, because we have the creative mind that they lack, right.? Well, it's not that simple. Truth is you'll be wearing a few hats. Here's a quick breakdown using the cast of AMC's Mad Men to help illustrate.

Salesman Hat
You're in sales now, believe it or not. Your talent will get them in the door, but if they don't buy what you're selling, you're not going to close. I often look up to Don Draper as an example of how to close. He's an idea man, but he also knows how to talk to the client. You want to be knowledgeable of course, but you also want to charm your client and make them feel comfortable. So put on your sales fedora and get your Drape on.

Project Manager Hat
One thing most creatives suffer from is time management. They get up late, check their inbox too often and when 5 O'clock rolls around they feel like they've done nothing all day. That's why I look at Joan Harris as a great example. Not only does she look great, but she gets things done. Everything is properly scheduled and gets done on time. Try working in time blocks and schedule your entire day; this includes getting up on time everyday and sticking to business hours.

Creative Hat
Hey, it's time to do what you do best! This shouldn't be too hard right? Well, you'd be surprised. It's hard to be creative sometimes when you second guess yourself and think you're not good enough. Peggy Olson started off as a secretary and had the desire to be a creative and went for it! She's a hard worker and puts in the extra time to make sure the work is great. So stop doubting and start doing. Remember... "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

Friendly Hat
Many designers have trouble socializing. If they don't know anyone at an event, they don't want to be there. Well, if you want to be successful you're going to have to start doing things you're not comfortable with. Roger Sterling is the guy who walks into a room and immediately knows how to have fun with the crowd and do the one-on-one. He doesn't sell, he just wants to show you a great time and get you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Remember, people do business with people they like. 

Customer Service Hat
This is the hat many creatives have trouble wearing, because when a client starts acting up and becomes difficult, all you really want to do is tell them to hit the bricks. Obviously, you can't do that. In this business you'll have to be able to deal with your clients ideas, moods and concerns. You'll need to know how to put out a fire by making the client feel you're taking care of them while maintaining your dignity and professionalism. Ken Cosgrove does an excellent job of knowing how to deal with the client's concerns and always has a solution to a problem and does it by always being honest.

Happy Designing,

Dennis (aka tanoshiboy)

So what do you think? Have you noticed this business is more than just designing? Are you still having trouble with clients and juggling the many responsibilities? Let us know in the comments section and share any new ideas you can add to this post. And share this post with people who will benefit from it. Use "via @salvatier" when tweeting and thanks for reading!