A strategy that turned a loss into a profit

I had the best week in Perth. One of my meetings was with a designer I have been mentoring for the past 12 months. Over a coffee, Frankie explained how this year’s financial figures proved she has successfully transformed a loss-making part of her business into a strong revenue stream.

She was stoked, as was I.

It’s not been easy, but it’s a brilliant result.
I love a good news story.

Frankie contacted me after reading about the Design Business Model Canvas in the Business of Design. She had used the business model to examine her business, and now wanted to explore how she could sell it to clients – especially to solve one frustrating aspect of new business.

Frankie frequently had to fend a number of calls about branding ‘start ups’ and micro-businesses. It was time-consuming to explain what she did and who she did it for, then cost the project only to hear the prospect say they didn’t have the budget. Together we unpacked the process with an empathy map and developed a new business strategy that incorporated the business model canvas.

Now when a prospect says

‘How much will it cost to develop a brand for my business?’

Frankie replies:

‘You know, I wouldn’t have a clue without a further briefing, but if you go to this page on my website and login with this password you will see how I have done it for others.’

Frankie’s client log-in section features case studies explaining her ‘onlyness’ and the advantage of exploring branding with a business model canvas workshop. If clients want to proceed – and it’s currently a 60:40 ratio of those continuing on – she has a link to a payment gateway where they can book, pay and schedule a business model canvas workshop. Sometimes client’s want to discuss their situation, but now only the serious prospects call.

The beauty of this approach is that it gives Frankie time to examine the business. The strategies/tactics developed all have a design component, so the scope of the project often increases from a once-off branding project to an ongoing client relationship.

The expenses and revenue sections of a canvas exposes the profitability of the business. Knowing those figures makes it easier to justify value pricing. It also opens up the opportunity to add value streams, all of which require design.

Frankie’s studio has moved new business pitches from making a loss to a profitable revenue stream.

Better than that, these new clients now see design as a business tool not a piece of decoration. It’s a win:win.


Greg Branson

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Want to know more about the Design Business Model Canvas or new business strategies? There’s more info here, or pick up the phone and call Greg.

After ten years mentoring and running workshops with Australian graphic design agencies, Greg is a walking knowledgebank of benchmarks, fee rates and methodologies. He’s been exposed to what works and what doesn’t work and he’s happy to share his knowledge.

Want more? Have a look at the Design Business School, a business school created specifically for Australian designers. It’s content written by Australian design practitioners based on industry insights. The takeaways are practical tools, resources and skills designer will use everyday.

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