Being generic is the quickest way to be treated unfairly. It’s the reason clients with bad taste show up with their arms folded, hope to drive down price, trying to make you dance, pushing for solutions you won’t even be proud of.
Because there’s no brand. There’s no narrative. You haven’t established a monopoly on a set of expectations. You haven’t created an interaction that’s bigger than the work itself. You’re just a mechanical turk doing a job. Filling a hole. Checking a box. Meeting spec.
The client doesn’t need you, they just need someone.
Which means they have the power. And if you’re not willing to drop your pants and do whatever they ask, there’s a line out the door of twenty other generic cogwheels who will do it faster and cheaper.
Of course, being generic doesn’t mean you’ll never work. There will always be a spot in the marketplace for mediocrity. But there will also always be a ceiling on the amount of compensation, satisfaction, freedom and meaning that is available to you.
Branding, on the other hand, shatters that ceiling. It breaks the sound barrier. It’s the fuel that thrusts you forward to the next level. Because when there’s only one person they can hire, it’s a pretty straightforward negotiation.
Before the work is done, you’re bragged about and asked for by name. While the work is being done, the client realizes, oh, that’s what happens every time I touch this brand. And after the work is done, people are able to look at the result and tell that the work was yours.
The point is, if you’re still hung up on being treated unfairly, figure out which parts of your business are most generic. Invert them. Chart a course that differentiates you from others. And once you earn the right to pull your chair up to the table, the client’s arms will suddenly uncross.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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