Beyond the Price Wars – Part 1


I get about one to three emails or phone calls per month from a design firm and this is how they start the conversation: “We are the best kept secret in the design world.” I will tell you that if it’s true for you, it’s the best way NOT to grow your business. So, how do you get on the A list? How do you achieve that very crucial and valuable top of mind awareness? How do you separate yourself from the pack and compete for the best projects out there? Media coverage is the best and most cost-effective way. Media coverage of your firm creates buzz, helps you achieve Top of mind awareness, which will, in turn, attract new clients and make you more profitable. In this first of 3 blog posts, I will explain how.

Before you start media outreach, you first need to find a way to differentiate your firm from your competitors. Do you describe your firm as strategic? Or do you describe it as creative? Perhaps you think that you have the perfect combination of strategy and creative? These are not the words to use if you want to differentiate your firm from your competitors. It’s just a point of entry. What you need is to find your own voice, discover what sets you apart and then tell your story across a variety of media platforms. How do you find your unique point of difference? We strongly believe that before an effective PR plan can be put in place, we need to do a positioning exercise and develop messages that are true to who you are and will help set you apart. The purpose: to be able to wrap your arms around how you want to describe what you do and who you are.

To get you started, here are 7 preliminary questions that you can use as a prep tool for building a successful strategy. Think about how you would answer these questions:

Who is your competition?

  1. Why do you think you win projects?
  2. How important is your process in selling new business?
  3. If you were a brand, which one would you be? Aspire to be? (No, we can’t all be Apple)
  4. If you could have a celebrity spokesperson, who would that be?
  5. What do new business prospects say when they call you?
  6. Who would you like to work with?

Once these questions are answered, then other stakeholders such as employees and clients should be interviewed to find out if your perception matches theirs.

I did this exercise with Beardwood&Co. and this is where we netted out:

Beardwood&Co. are problem solvers that connect brands with people on a human level. Comprised of strategists driven by creative potential and designers inspired by human insights, Beardwood&Co. focuses on brand, insight and innovation.

The positioning is benefit driven for their potential clients and offers a window into the soul of the company, thus giving them their own special personality. This language informs every touchpoint including their website and story.

Once you have your positioning set, you’ve ready to launch a PR campaign. I’ll cover that in Part 2.