Friday, January 13, 2012

c+notes: “Playoffs? Playoffs?”

There are many parallels that can be drawn between the exhibit and event industries and professional sports. While I realize this may be a bit of a stretch, in both cases teams are assembled with a lot of moving parts to execute a plan within a set time frame.

Creative Depth: Good teams have talented players at all levels. Great teams have depth at key positions, and design is no exception. Many companies rely on a “starting” or staff design team to get the job done, while most recognize that they need creative depth to succeed. Depth at the design position allows you to manage the spikes in your design schedule by facilitating your team’s ability to take on key projects, manage overflow or fill in the holes when a key starter is unavailable.

Free Agency: You can round out the depth of your team with more full-time staff, or look to freelance designers to fill in the gaps on an as needed basis. Unlike professional sports, the cost of “free agency” won’t cost you a huge multi-year contract up front. Any additional costs you have when using a freelance exhibit designer will be offset by not paying for their salary, benefits or equipment needs when you’re not using them. This would be the sports equivalent of only paying a free-agent athlete for the number of plays you actually used him for…not the time they spent sitting on the sidelines.

Team Player: In any team sport talented team players are far more valuable than individual record setters. When evaluating freelance talent, consider the advantage of a design team like Core Design Group over a solo designer. Using a creative group like Core gives you the creative benefit of a team environment combined with the manpower you require to meet larger project goals and deadlines. At very least, we are more likely to play well with others!

Timing & Trust: Like many professional football teams sitting at home watching the play-offs this week, the best time to find a back-up quarterback is not the same week you need him to start. Ideally, you bring someone in early and get to know and trust one another. This time gives you an opportunity to evaluate your designer’s strengths and where they can benefit you most. As a freelance designer, we have been brought in under tight deadlines and under more relaxed “get to know you” circumstances. All scenarios can succeed, but the opportunity for success increase when everyone has the opportunity to develop a working relationship before the S#%! hits the fan.

Competition: If you already have freelance “depth” at the design position, then you are ahead of the curve. If you don’t, your competitors do. This is not an industry secret, but a fact of success. The justification is simple, when you consider the number of scenarios when you might need a freelance designer, and that the upfront costs of doing so are minimal. By comparison, the long-term cost of a lost business opportunity, far outweigh the short-term costs of developing a relationship with a dependable freelance design source.

Super Bowl: Unlike professional sports, the exhibit and event industry doesn’t get an off season to plan, practice and cultivate a winning team. We do it on the fly, because each project is the play-offs and every opportunity to win new business is the Super Bowl.

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