We Must Learn to Play the Game

In the market there are good and bad designers, good and bad clients, all sort of competition and prices. All of them are some of the components of the game to play.

Portrait of Fernando Del Vecchio Fernando Del Vecchio Buenos Aires

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During our initial meetings, Mariana (industrial designer) could not stop protesting about the continuous bargaining she suffered from her customers. According to her, the price offered for her products was fair enough and was reluctant to make discounts to every single client asking for one during a meeting.

Apparently, the calculation by which she determined the cost of each of the products, along with the reasonable profit percentage as a reward for her work, was a kind of manifestation of her honesty.

There was something Mariana could not come to understand: Why did her clients were used to paid more for other products rather than to pay for her own, which in addition were of a better quality? She would know this as a fact since she acquainted some of her client's suppliers and managed to discovered the price recently paid for those products.

Mariana didn't understand the game she was supposed to play. She used to think that by putting together good design as her cover letter, quality as her best player, and “fair” pricing, she would have created the perfect trilogy for a closing sale deal.

And all of this would be true if success was in fact the result of good design, if the quality of a product was not subjectively defined, if the price of a product actually reflected it's value. But the truth is that it is not so. As soon as we realize how the game must be played, the faster we'll stop loosing money, the lesser we'll spend dreaming about a world that does not exist. We will start focusing our attention on what is truly important (if we want our company, office, start up or project to prosper).

Now, let's considered and review three truths in the paradigm of the entrepreneurial designer that should naturally lead to success.

1. Success is a natural consequence of having the best product.

The best product doesn't always win

Don't try so hard to make your product the best since the word itself is subjectively defined and most of the time it's definition includes aspects that has nothing to do with what it's best for you. The product is a set of attributes that could not exist to you but do exist to your client. The ideal way to go in these scenarios is to gather from a client's perspective, all the information about the product that creates it in order to reinforce those attributes (in some cases, trying to market a product with your brand may be counterproductive if viewed from the perspective of a channel owner).

2. Success is a natural consequence of providing the fair price.

The fair price does not exist

While there may reference prices of the products or services we sell, it is surprisingly uncommon to take over the concept of “fair price” simply by having calculated the cost of production and adding a reasonable percentage gain to that price. What is a reasonable percentage gain and who defines it for that matter? We also have to take in mind that those costs may vary depending on the company. At the end, we will always find someone who for whatever reason offers a similar product or service at a lower price. Whoever assumes this as an unfair competition that person should review some concepts.

3. Success is a natural consequence of a good relationship with the client.

Who you call client is actually the owner of the distribution channel

When selling products or services within a market you call customer to the person that actually acts as a channel to reach the real client. By having more control over the customer, the owner of the channel applies “bargaining power” to impose conditions. Which conditions? Price, shipping and billing conditions. Examples of bargaining power are manifested when you agree to let your products on consignment and even when you agree to remove your brand on your product so another one should be communicated in this place. It is sometimes difficult to get out of this situations, especially when your energy is set to improve the product rather than developing other channels, working on your brand, projecting your own local installation or controlling the sales channel to collect your money as soon as possible.

Clearly, although many do not see it as clear: before crossing these conditions, to play the game we must learn some things that have nothing to do with design and with developing selling techniques to sell anything to anyone. To learn how to play the game we have to first understand which skills are the one we possess and which we do not. We have to be conscious about the game itself and start designing and planning a project to avoid falling into the dynamic in which many fall (as a result of these three stated beliefs), and from which they cannot easily get out.

Translated by Daniela Santibáñez Guayaquil

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Fernando Del Vecchio

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