Bill Baker's Expert Q+A

"What's Your Story? Distinguishing Your Firm Through Strategic Storytelling" - October 18, 9:00am - 10:15am

General Business:

What is currently the biggest business challenge for creative services firms?

I see two big ones. First is distinguishing your firm in an unbelievably competitive marketplace that is getting more so every day. Second is attract and retaining stellar talent. Interestingly, success with the second challenge can often help with the first.

Do clients really understand the value of design?

Make no mistake, there are many clients out there that who understand and appreciate the value of great design: P&G, Ford and, of course, Apple to name a few. Unfortunately, there are far too many who think design isn’t worth the price, or more specifically the cost of the hours it takes to get to really great design. They don’t get that great design takes time and have difficulties wrapping their heads around paying people to simply explore, think and experiment. Coincidentally, I find that these same clients often have a hard time understanding the value of strategy.

Creative Service firms need to always be thinking about how they can help their clients see and experience the value of design, strategy and the creative process. They need to make it real and meaningful for their clients; something easier said than done.


What are three essential things that a design firm must do to market its services?

  1. Have a process to sell, not just a product.

  2. Celebrate and showcase your people, help potential clients understand why they’re important and why outsourcing to “any designer anywhere” isn’t always the best solution.

  3. Get your story straight, and make certain it goes beyond just facts and information to touch upon admittedly murkier but more meaningful things like the higher purpose that drives your work, the roles you look to play for your clients and the experiences you strive to create for them.


What’s the best way to keep your best employees?

Have a culture and work like Hell to cultivate and maintain it. Doing so will ensure that your employees feel like they truly belong to something versus simply working for someone. It can’t completely prevent your best employees from being wooed by the promises of greater salary, title and other perks, but it can go a long way in immunizing your firm from unwanted attrition.