It is February and it feels like I will be able to write on post a month rather than one a week.
A lot of projects have been kicked off and a lot is going on, on a daily basis, but I will try to write about one thing and topic at a time.

This weeks topic is the kick off of a project called “FRAG FRAU SANDRA” (translating into ASK MISS SANDRA). Together with the Design Forum Austria we initiated this 20min format where young designer can come in and ask me for advise. A one-on-one, old school mentoring sessions on a table with two chairs and a good cup of coffee. No matter if it is project related, if they want to talk about their portfolio or think through pricing and processes together.

Since i have criticized the design scene quite a bit for not mentoring each other anymore, not learning from each other and newbies being alone with their questions and problems quite a bit – I had to take action.
So those evenings (6 slots á 20min on one night; every couple of months) are a big experiment and I was quite uncertain what the first night would bring. But I was amazed by the interest and the “cases” I want to share with you.

Since it would be too much to share all of those stories I will try to pick two each session (hoping themes will reappear and i can cover all of them)

pricing based on value rather than billing hours

A 50+ year old agency boss booked two slots in a row to discuss pricing over the phone.
I was super stoked that the message had reached out to experienced people in the community as well and I was amazed by the clear need of this man, wanting to understand how to get away from hourly rates to rates that charge for value. and also how the big players do it.
having worked his way up from sales and media, he ende up building his own branding agency without ever having had an insight into pricing models in the creative industry - so he had always charged by the hour and was kind of sick of it.

My advantage is, that I have worked in big and small agencies, that I have seen hundreds of cost estimates, I was happy to have had very transparent team leads and that I have lived in different countries.

In our session we first laid down his service process and what he had to offer and give to his clients.
We divided the whole service into junks (like strategy and positioning, conception + creation, design execution and production…) So he had to be super precise what he had to offer to beginn with (a reflection in of itself). Only then we could put value (for the client) and rational time onto those junks, put it in relation to the clients scale and the media spendings and plans and found a way to put prices (in different scalings) onto the outline. In the end nothing was based on hours anymore. Of course you have to know your hours (I am a tracking freak) but in the end it can only be a rough base you build upon and it can’t be the main argument you have with your client. Simple example to show my point: What If the best copywriter takes 2 hours for a task where another one needs 4h - quality wise they are the same. Is the first one better because he is quicker or the dumb one when he is charging by the hour? This should not be the discussion. The point should be the quality and value they produce for the client they worked with.

the golden rule

To be honest one specific session kind of wowed me quite a bit. This girl came in and wanted to know from me how she could become a famous fashion designer. Not only was I stunned because of the fashion aspect (which we excluded to beginn with) but by the fact that she sat down, showed me some pieces she had designed and waited for me to come up with the one golden rule for guaranteed success. Basically she wanted me to lay down a milestone plan in detail for her, give her the right contacts into the industry and tell her what to do step by step. She even asked me for a short cut several times. Which I obviously couldn’t tell or give her. So I felt that she was disappointed by the fact that I only could give her advice on how to find her voice, hot to position herself, that she needed to find a mentor in the industry and that every good project has specific milestones and to dos (which we roughly went through). She kept telling me that in my description had said “project management” - which she obviously had confused by thinking I would tell her what to do and manage her project. She wanted a guaranteed way to success and did not want to hear anything about hard work, commitment, investment or passion. I am still processing but I think I gave my best and I want to end this with one true believe of mine: without hard work there wont come success… sorry