True Value

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Emmy award-winning designer Chris Do on what lies ahead

Chris Do, Emmy award-winning designer, founder and CEO of The Futur

Birmingham, UK. Cairo. Toronto. Milan. The Philippines. New York. Miami. Boston. San Francisco. Name a place and Chris Do has most likely been there lecturing to the masses on the importance and power of design. The Emmy award-winning designer, founder and CEO of The Futur—an online education platform that teaches the business of design to creatives, Do is a teacher, thought leader and voice for today’s creatives. Along with learning technique and process, Do believes that every creative has a responsibility to master the business and management skills needed to survive in today’s entrepreneurial landscape. His belief: Every designer should see themselves as their own business. We sat down with him to get his thoughts on what every creative should know in 2020 and beyond.

What are you teaching creatives these days?

I teach the business of design, which includes content marketing, sales, pricing and negotiations.

What are some of the new challenges facing creatives?

Creatives are generally not comfortable dealing with conflict and tend to shy away from points of friction, especially when it comes to pricing and value. They are afraid of scaring away a client, losing an opportunity or offending a prospect over a budget they have deemed as being too high. This is mostly due to an unhealthy relationship with money and lack of sales training.

How should they define themselves?

Creatives should define themselves as “designers”—capable of solving myriad design problems, including business, marketing, sales, conversion, usability, aesthetic and awareness. Social scientist Herbert Simon defines design this way: Everyone designs that takes a course of action of changing an existing situation to a preferred one.

How do they make money going forward?

Author Blair Enns suggests using three main principles: Price the client, not the job; provide pricing options and anchor high. Creatives must not only become fluent in the language of art, but also the language of business. They need to be bilingual if they want to thrive.

Tell us about pricing strategies and other tactics that creatives should know.

Most people generate a price based on how much it costs to make (effort + materials). This is based on the labor theory of value, where value is determined by necessary labor. This theory does not take into account profit and why some people value things more than others.

Take for example in-game purchases, which are available on many freemium games. For a few dollars, you can purchase extra lives, power-ups or other advantages to help you beat the game. In some games, you can even purchase a unique enhancement to your avatar. This upgrade is strictly a vanity item that has no impact on your performance or capabilities. The social status that it brings to some players is worth the money, even though it has no value outside the game.

If you want to learn how to price a project, focus on the value it has to the buyer, not what it costs to produce. Ask questions about the outcomes and results the client wishes to achieve. This will surface the true value.

How do creatives guard against commoditization ?

Do not sell what you make. Sell your thinking. What you make is the byproduct of your thinking. Do not focus on deliverables. Focus on outcomes and results.

Do not sell what you make. Sell your thinking. What you make is the byproduct of your thinking. Do not focus on deliverables. Focus on outcomes and results.

Tell us about you and your mission.

Our mission is to teach one billion people how to make money doing what they love. We are focusing on creatives, but the principles we teach are universal.