Today’s guest is Chris Do. Chris is a teacher, consultant, designer, and entrepreneur. He's also the founder of Blind, one of the longest-running, single-owner design agencies. Chris also founded The Futur, an education platform with more than 500,000 YouTube subscribers.
Chris started out in advertising, but eventually found his way to design. With Blind, he's made a career out of helping clients tell better stories through award-winning design. But Chris would be the first one to tell you that craft alone isn't enough. A key component of pricing — and success in general — is understanding business and marketing, and how to speak to a client's bottom line.
In today's episode, Chris talks about how to develop client relationships with research, how to understand what they really need, and how that knowledge can inform your pricing and increase your profits.
[Tweet "'Price the client and not the job.' @theChrisDo"]
In this episode Chris talked about:
- The difference between cost, price, and value.
- How to align your client's goals with your pricing.
- How to build the kind of client relationships that will support your pricing.
- Most of the time, clients come up with arbitrary numbers. There is room for negotiation. Don't be afraid to stand firm on your pricing.
- Your price is a reflection of who you are. If you want to increase your pricing, you have to increase the value you bring to the table.
- Always be present. You must be able to recognize the moments in life that could be big opportunities.
Important Mentions in this Episode
Chris Do 0:00
Start investing some of your time reading a few books on marketing and business negotiation. Learn not only to speak the language of design and creativity, but learn to speak the language of business. That way, when you hear that a person is having a problem with customer service, you can say like, “Oh, I can connect that issue with something I learned in web design and bring those two worlds together.” When you do that, you’ll be seen as expert, somewhat of a creative genius because everyone’s like, why don’t we ever think of that?
Jason Resnick 0:42
Welcome to Episode Three of Season 6 of living the feast. I’m Jason aka rezzz helping you grow your design and development business. By having a conversation with someone who’s been there had success and build a business designed around the life they want to live, that live in the feast. Today’s co host is Chris Do. Chris is the founder of the longest running single own design agency called The Blind. He is the founder of the Futur whose YouTube channel now has over a half a million subscribers. He’s a passionate guy, and very modest in his own right, I am super excited to bring this to you. And I want to personally thank Chris publicly for coming on giving amazing value and insight and sharing his experience and time with us. Even though he certainly was not feeling well at the time of this recording. In this episode, we dive into how you don’t need to do value based pricing to run a successful business, and why you don’t need to meet a client at the price they want to pay. Chris shares his Pulp Fiction briefcase moment, and how to build a relationship with clients that most designers and developers don’t. And finally, we chat about how to level up your product and your value after you’ve gained a bit of experience. So without further ado, here’s Chris and myself.
Feasters, welcome to another episode of live in the feast. My guest today is Chris Do. He’s a consultant, teacher, designer, entrepreneur, the founder of the future without him a channel dedicated to creative entrepreneurs. And while he’s modest and humble in his own intro, he’s the founder of blind a brand strategy design consultancy with 20 plus years behind the business, it definitely has to be one of the longest running design agencies. I mean, I’m in my 40s I’ve seen go come and go really quick. So I’m sure it’s one of the longest. And the futures YouTube channel has over a half million subscribers at this point in history. So I’m super excited to bring you to the show and have a chat with you. Welcome, Chris.
Chris Do 3:09
Thank you so much. And thank you for pointing out that we’ve been one of the longest running by a single owner design, motion design firms out there, like 24 years this year.
Jason Resnick 3:19
Wow, congrats. Congrats on that.
Chris Do 3:21
Jason Resnick 3:21
So as somebody that has worked for some design firms and development firms that have common pass and know the stresses on the industry, the ups and downs and such, so 24 years is quite an accomplishment. Chris, if it’s okay with you, you talk a ton about business, as a creative entrepreneur, as a creative professional, obviously, you possess some superpower that meshes those two parts of your brain together. But that, I mean, obviously, that makes you in some eyes of other designers and creative types, a bit of a unicorn, right. And one aspect that you talk a lot about is around pricing and value. And that’s what I want to talk today about if that’s okay with you.
Chris Do 4:03
Perfect. I’m very happy to talk about that. Awesome.
Jason Resnick 4:05
So let’s just set the foundation here. What is the relationship between value and price?
Chris Do 4:11
Hmm. Okay, so I think what we need to do is drilling really deep around this and in terminology, and I want to set the table if you will set the stage in terms of talking about the difference between cost, price and value. And they’re very three different things. But people use them interchangeably, sometimes. And they mix it up, because recently asked my audience on Twitter, have you price based on our project or value and a surprising shocking amount of people to value based pricing? I was thinking, no, I don’t think so. I don’t mean to question my own audience, but very few people actually price based on value. So let’s understand the definition. And then once we do this, I think your audience will start to understand like oh, put yourself in one of those three categories. Okay. The first one is cost to understand what cost is cost is basically the sum of what it takes to produce a product service. So this could be labor and raw materials, but the two combined equals for costs. So a lot of people believe it or not price their services at cost, meaning they don’t actually make a profit. So now let’s introduce the idea of profit profit is what you make on top of what it costs you to many manufacturers something artist service provided. So let’s take for example, a T shirt, a T shirt has the raw cost of the T shirt itself, the inks and the screen if you’re going to print it, and there’s labor involved in pulling that drying and packing and shipping and sending to somebody that’s your cost. So somebody says, How much do you charge for this, and you quote them what your costs are, you’re going to find out that you’re going to go out of business pretty quickly. As you may know, profit. Now profit is what exists on top of costs. So this is now what we would call price price as cost plus profit. And there’s an arbitrary amount of profit that’s attached. And depending on the industry, that you’re in how specialized you are, how much demand and supply exists will determine the price and the price. And some people will describe this as market value fair market value. So if you’re on the coast, and you’re doing an identity design, the fair market value might be a little higher than say, if you’re in a very remote village somewhere in developing country, the market value there for the same kind of work, same quality, same exact everything is going to be lower. So those things kind of expand and contract depending on a couple external forces. Or they may not, for example, a luxury good if you’re going to go buy a designer a pair of designer shoes or handbag, they set the market price to say like this handbags going to be $3,000, it doesn’t matter where you buy it from. And then people still buy. So that’s an interesting phenomenon that because they created a demand for something which they control the supply for. And this is going to give your audience a little bit of a clue as to how they need to operate if they want to make more money. Lastly is value. Okay, so price is what you pay values, what you get. That’s a quote from Warren Buffett and price is what you pay values, what you get, what you get is some kind of emotional benefit and makes you feel free feel the sense of belonging, that you’re cool, or that you’ve arrived, or you’ve made it in the world. And so this cannot be determined by the seller, it can only be determined by the buyer, because it’s individual. And it’s subjective. This is why we say price the client and not the job.
Jason Resnick 7:17
Yes, I love that. And it’s something that I talk a lot about on this show is that you know, the price is essentially subjective, right, you want it as high as possible, and your client walking in the door may want it as low as possible. And it’s your job as the professional to evaluate the value of the problem that your potential client has at the time to narrow that gap to see what the problem is to be able to come up with a solution, whether it is something that you can or can’t do. And then you have the privilege of putting a price on that. How does and this is Pandora’s box, so to speak. But how does one tactfully learn how to you narrow that gap when somebody approaches them, and you start to evaluate the problem without bringing your own biases into the mix?
Chris Do 8:11
Okay, there’s a couple of things here. So we’ve talked about cost, what it takes to make something and price and prices cost plus profit, there’s a couple of different strategies here, you do not have to do value based pricing ever and still run a very successful business I have for many, many years prior to learning value based pricing, I would say almost two decades worth of running it doing fixed base fees, pricing the project and not the client, okay. And I’ve done probably upwards of $80 million of revenue throughout the 20 plus years that I’ve been in business by doing this very one thing. So I don’t want people to feel inadequate, or less than or pressured to do value based pricing, because that’s what everybody’s talking about, you can run a very successful business adding a healthy chunk of profit. So let’s just talk about that a little bit here. So how much profit can you add to a project? Well, it did who’s taking the risk. So for example, when the scope is very undefined, and you have a client that doesn’t make decisions quickly or easily, you may want to pad the project to have more profit or flexibility. So that in case the scope expands or gets redefined, or feedback comes in really late, then you can cover your costs because you want to go upside down, you don’t want to pay the client to do the project. So you have to understand like how much risk is involved who’s willing to take the risk, when a client agrees to pay you hourly, they’re saying will take all the risk, because you’ll get paid no matter what you were 10 hours, you get paid you work 3000 hours, you’ll get paid. So you’re taking very little risk, but what you’re doing is you’re selling time and not the result. Now, when we get into, say, an identity design or a website, there’s a finite thing that can happen. Now you can say, Okay, well, based on my experience, this is what it’s going to be priced at. Now your client may have sticker shock, they could say, Well, Chris, we didn’t think it was going to be $100,000, we were prepared to pay seven thousand. So the natural instinct here is to try to meet somewhere in the middle. And I don’t know if that’s always a good place to start. I would say like, Well, okay, did we get the scope wrong? No. Did we underestimate the value of this to your initiative? No, no, it’s very important for us to do. So what where’s the cap coming from? Well, we just came up with a number and a budget. Well, usually that’s what it is, it’s very arbitrary. So you can make some decisions. Now you could hold firm. And you can say to them, it’s like, and this is I’ve said this before, I’m not saying that this website costs, or the price is hundred thousand dollars, it just is priced that way, if you want us to do it, you’re welcome to go and shop and find as many companies as you want to work with. And probably you’ll find a range between 30 to 300. I’m not saying were the most expensive, but I know, definitely we’re not going to be the cheapest. And then they get to make a decision. And what you’re doing there is you’re forcing them to justify to themselves, why they should pay a little bit more. And in the big scheme of things in terms of that effort or initiative that they’re trying to resolve. It’s a small price to pay, if it’s going to yield $4 million in sales for them in the first year. In the back of their mind. They’re thinking, well, what’s the difference? $30,000. And we’ve all been there before, when you buy a car and they offer you an upgrade to the heads up display or the the fine leather or the Berlin Wall not finished your car, I’m already for the 45,000 into it, what’s another $400 to get the wheels that I want the stereo system that I wanted to speakers, and you start talking that on? It’s not necessarily your responsibility to meet them at the price in which they want to pay nowhere else in the real world. You walk into any establishment and say, What is that? I want to pay 70% of that, and then they’re going to agree to you, they will say that’s fine. And then there’s a store down the street, go down there and see if you can.
Jason Resnick 11:52
Yeah, I totally agree. And it’s something that, you know, it’s like you can’t go to BestBuy and buy an 80 inch screen and say I just want this for 30% of the cost the 30% of the price that’s on the shelf there. You have to pay what they’re asking for or either not buy it, go shop somewhere else, or wait and hope that they put it on sale. That’s right,
Chris Do 12:15
except for this one in case you can actually negotiate with Best Buy. They’re actually margins there. But you know, you will be absolutely right. Now most people don’t know this, but there’s flexibility there.
Jason Resnick 12:24
Yeah, I worked at an electronics store here locally in New York, The Wiz and we knew as a salesman, what we could do, like we there was always that
Chris Do 12:33
every every salesperson is told the margin, right?
Jason Resnick 12:35
Yep. Always, always. So I know that you You call yourself a business problem solver. I mean, obviously, you have the accomplished design, background, business, everything you talk about it. I mean, you’re a designer, right? I mean, that’s what you fell in love with. That’s what you went to school for everything of that nature. But why the definition of a business problem solver?
Chris Do 12:56
Well, this is where titles really matter. Titles really matter. Because if you’re a graphic designer, you saw graphic problems, if you’re an interior designer, guess what? You solve interior problems, right? This is what I do. So if you’re brand new design yourself branding, I get it. But I want to solve this problem. So I’m a business designer, I want to solve things that are going to make the greatest impact on my clients business. That could be revenue marketing awareness, company culture, it could be to figure out how to optimize efficiency for their company, it could be logistics, it could be a host of problems. So that’s why I want to take a bigger step back and say like, what is it that’s really going to move the needle for your company? And based on that, I will solve that problem.
Jason Resnick 13:42
So some folks would say that’s a generalist,
Chris Do 13:46
yes, it is. And in this case, now, I’m a strategist. And I have enough knowledge of a few things, but broad knowledge of a lot of things, right. So I know motion graphics, I can shoot video, not a direct and storyboard sequencing, those kinds of things. I also know my way around typography, graphic design, outside of that, my field of expertise starts to thin out quite a bit. But I know a lot about not a lot. I’m say I know enough about marketing, a psychology of philosophy, and just general design principles that I can serve my client Best Buy, being able to sit down with them, and having a conversation about what the real problem is. So have you had people or potential clients come to you that you just say, I’m not even sure why you want me to do this? Because I have no idea how to do it hundred percent. So how do you What have you done with those sort of clients? Why check those out? Right? So when a client calls you, they’ve already determined that you possess something that they want. So you’re fooling yourself if they call you in? And they’re asking you to say do a virtual reality experience for them? And you have no VR experience whatsoever? Why would reasonable people who time is very, very valuable, call you up in the first place, the mistake would be to try to defend or justify, convince or persuade this prospect as to why you’re really good VR person, it’s obvious to everybody in the room. And this is the position that many design firms get caught up in, because they call they feel like, Oh, I gotta do this. So my approach is exactly the opposite. So when they call and they say, you know, Hey, I got this VR experience coming up. Is this something that you’re interested in? And I would say to them, full disclosure, I don’t do any VR, happy to help you. I’m not saying I’m not qualified to do it. But I don’t have any proof of this. So I’m taking that objection off the table. And this is usually how they respond. They say something like, we love the way you think we love how you tell stories. And we can find a lot of people are very technically good at VR. But they can tell stories, and they’re fantastic is going to work really well. So I’ll be a story consultant for your VR thing, and somebody else would do the work, right? They’re like, yes, and I’ve done this time and time again, we design architectural facades and interiors, and I have no background in architecture whatsoever. I’m not licensed, I have been trained and no problem, we’ll hire an architect, you just do the concepts, and we’ll have them make it fantastic. See, this is how it works. So we assume that we’re going to be putting in defensive position. So we start acting in a defensive posture. And this is really not the way to start a relationship with a client. Right?
Jason Resnick 16:15
Yeah, that’s well said.
I echo what Chris says 100%. First is that when a client calls you, they’ve already made a decision to work with you 70% of that buying decision for that client has already been made. Secondly, they want to work with you, regardless of your niche, or specialty at this point. And as Chris suggests, here, clearly stating upfront that you don’t do what they’re looking for. But being open to the conversation and hearing what they have to say, and how you can help. This is a great avenue to build out different revenue streams for your business. Now, admittedly, pricing at this point may seem a little bit difficult, especially if you’re not doing what they’re asking for. That’s why I want to invite you to check out feast by using the code value at checkout, you can get your first month for only $20. You’ll learn how to unpack the value a client has for their project, no matter what they’re asking you to do, and then put a price on your solution. Chris shares a quote by Warren Buffett that says price is what you pay value is what you get. It’s your job as a service professional to figure out what the value the client puts on the work feast is the community and resource hub for developers and designers ready to get off the project searching hamster wheel and actually run the business they set out to build in the first place fees helps position you in the market with what you do, who you help, and helps you build the processes and systems for client management, sales, marketing, delivery, and pricing. Your business is the same as everyone else. When you are a member of feast, you get personalized guidance from myself, it is essential for me to meet you where you are, and make sure that you’re getting the exact tools and resources so that you don’t get lost in the shuffle. The moment you sign up, we’re going to have a chat so that I can create a custom syllabus, if you will, of resources within feast to meet you where you are. If you’re serious about not competing on price, and having clients that respect you and your expertise, then I would love to see you inside of fees, head on over to feast course calm. And don’t forget the code value at checkout for your first month. Only $20. So before we get back to the pricing conversation, I have a few questions for you. I like to ask all of my guests, what has been your defining moment in life so far?
Chris Do 19:12
Oh, you personally professionally something else,
Jason Resnick 19:14
either, whatever you feel,
Chris Do 19:16
Okay, I’m gonna take it to this moment. Here. I’m 17 years old. And prior to this point in time, I thought I was going to go and study computer science or accounting or something super boring. what I’m supposed to do as an Asian American, really, I think this right. And I happened to be working at a silk screening place. And the idea of, of our graphic designer still doesn’t exist in my head. Some work in a screening shop, and part of my duties is do whatever my boss tells me to do. So he tells me, hey, go over to Dean’s place and pick up some type setting. I don’t even know what that word type setting means. Okay, all right. And he’s not too far away and get my car driver lives in a suburban classic tract home, California, Northern California home, and knocking on doors opens the door. He looks at me. Dean’s his big guys wearing like Hawaiian shirt and shorts and flip flops. And like, this is a graphic designer. He’s like, You’re early. I’m like, am I okay? He’s like, you want to come in? Yeah, I’ll come in beats sitting in the heat in the car. I go into his house and walk down the hallway we turn right. And I gotta tell you, it’s a magical experience. It’s almost like Pulp Fiction, when the characters open the suitcase and it glows. You know, I’m talking about so I go around the corner. All the content is room, and it feels like it’s glowing to me. And what do I see, I see the actual studio of a practicing graphic designer. He’s got a couple of drafting tables, he’s got these colored markers all neatly organized. A t square triangle. So that kind of stuff. Okay, that’s cool. And then sitting on a desk to my left is a beige 512 k monochrome, all in one Mac, first or second generation Macintosh computer. And look, what is that thing, right. And he’s cooking some things. And he’s using all freehand or Adobe Illustrator probably 1.0. And then he does something hits print. And this giant refrigerator sized laser printer starts whirling coming to life, just could feel the heat off the thing. And out of this behemoth spits out an eight by 11 piece paper and it’s a type set. Well, he puts in an envelope. And I’m looking at him. And I’m thinking to myself, like, what is this kind of person? What is this sorcery? and ask them like, what are you He’s like, I’m a graphic designer. I said and you want for yourself? He goes, yes, looking at me like what is going on with this kid? And he said, do you provide for your family? Just all that you do? He goes, yes. And he doesn’t know it. But to me, this was magical. It’s like a graphic designer, does professional looking things, uses machinery to generate computer generated images. And you could provide for a family. So my whole worldview is just split into two worlds the world before and the world after. And now I make that determination to myself, I to be a graphic designer, I want what he has, I want to be able to work at home, I want to have all these tools and toys and seems so professional, I want that. So that changes the trajectory of my life forever.
Jason Resnick 22:13
That’s a great story. I mean, it’s it’s funny how like you think of a person at that age, late teens, maybe even early 20s you trying to start to figure out what your life is going to look like. And then all of a sudden, the whole thing changes. It just takes a left turn or just from an interaction with somebody, it could be good, bad or otherwise, you know, just happenstance. It’s funny, I, I’ve asked so many people that question. And so many people have shared stories where there’s that one, you know, moment in time that they can they can recall of that sort of pivot in their own life journey, if you will. awesome story. I love it.
Chris Do 22:55
Thanks, man. And I’m either lucky or cursed enough to have the mindfulness, the self awareness to know where all those beats are in my lifetime. So if this were for our show, I would tell you the next ending on what it is you want to know, because I see things with great clarity. And I’m able to kind of reflect back and say, oh, wow, that’s one of those Gwyneth Paltrow sliding doors moment where you make the train or you missed the train in your life changes. I see that. And that’s why I try to be very present to the moment so that if the next Dean Walker is in my life, I could see it for what it is I know which path to go down.
Jason Resnick 23:34
Yeah, and I’ve heard you say this before, is that you have to be smart enough to realize that there’s an opportunity in front of you. And for me, sometimes it’s that opportunity that you have to pass on. Has there been those opportunities where you’ve really wanted to go after something, but you’ve you’ve held back?
Chris Do 23:56
Yes. And no, I don’t see it exactly the way you phrase. But there are times when I made a decision. And I started to think I know that the the road is splitting there’s a fork in the road, and can I make the right decision. And when it gets painful, you think to yourself, oh, maybe I made the wrong decision, I want to go back on and undo. And those are your moments where your courage point has to be tested there. And the story is this is that I was working in advertising. Before I even graduated, I was an art director, I got the corner office, and was working at a mid to top level ad agency in Seattle. And I was getting paid at that time. $40,000. And that’s like more money than I ever thought I was going to make annually. And this is why I’m still in school. And I’m doing advertising and my boss, his name is Kevin Jones, he comes up to me, it’s like I really want you to work here. At that time was like feeling like I don’t know about advertising. I think I want to be a graphic designer. So I said, Yeah, I’m not sure it is a good fit for me. So he’s like will offer you more money. Like, how much is like 85,000. So I’m only working there couple of months, and he’s already more than doubled my salary. I was like what? Ngozi I think about an icon. So I’m not really like, super excited, because money doesn’t motivate me. And whatever. So he comes out to me Got it, Chris, what if you only have to work three hours or three days a week? Like oh, my God is you’re making it really hard for me to say no. And either way, way way, you know how much we you know, we have so much space here, we will give you space to start your own design studio that you can run on the two days that you’re not working here. And that I just asked him like, Why Why would you do this for me, I’m just a, a 20 year old kid, I don’t know anything about advertising is well, there’s two things that I like about you. Nobody does what you do here. And two, you work harder than anybody else here. So you just make everybody else look bad. And it’s a boss, I just want to show them this. There’s two options to work like the way you do or work like the way that they do. And I was thinking, Okay, I’m gonna take this job. Later on, I decide I’m not going to take the job, even though they were flying me back and forth from Seattle to Los Angeles. I have money in my pocket, I’ve got a corporate apartment, I’ve got a corporate expense account. And I’m living the life. I’m not even done with school yet. But ultimately, I decided, you know, this advertising thing. It’s really not what I’m passionate about. I didn’t wake up in the morning thinking about advertising. I don’t go to sleep thinking about it. But I did think about design all day long. I turned on the job. I go back to Los Angeles. And a few short months later, I’m starting my own business and it’s horrible. I’m sleeping on the floor. I’m doing projects that literally are paying me $500 for and I’m mining the renderer station to make sure it doesn’t crash. And my back is hurting and their struggles. I can’t get a sales rep. I go through periods of growth and contraction. And I was thinking back, did I make the right decision? Can I go back or what? And so those there are a lot of moments in life that you sit there and think, did I marry the right woman? Did I take the right job that I tell the right bosses screw off? Did I do everything right? Now there’s a there’s closure to this story. Because many, many years later, Kevin’s working at an ad agency that’s down the street literally down the street from us. invite him over because I haven’t seen him a long time I hug him. I’m just so thrilled to see him. I said Kevin, I don’t regret many things in my life. But the one thing I regret, a wondered if I made the right decision was Should I stayed at the agency, my life would be very different today. He looks at me like this. And he’s like, you know what? Never ever say that to me ever again. You made absolutely the right decision, the whole place fell apart. Look at where you’re at now. It’s just this is this is it, you did the right thing. So he kind of in a way, absolve me from my sins of arrogance and youth and stupidity. And he just watched all the way I’m like, Okay, I’ll put that baby to bed because for almost 20 years, I wondered what life would have been like, if I stayed there, what I’ve been what I made partners and where I might, might have started another agency and we’d be hiring people like us and not being us.
Jason Resnick 27:56
And that’s that’s a great, that’s a great story, I had to a similar occurrence where I had a manager director that I was working for. And he moved on to another company. And he asked he wanted to pull me along with him. And similar conversation they offered me $50,000. And that was right out of college. And I was, you know, I was more money than I was obviously making it that point in time. But it wasn’t what I wanted to do. And they came back with offer after offer after offer. I was like, they got up to $95,000 a house like what, like this is my still wrong in saying no, but it just wasn’t what they the job description that they threw at me wasn’t what I was wanting to do. And I said to them, I said, it’s not about the money. I you know, I I appreciate it. I’m grateful. Thank you. But that’s just not what I want to do. And they said, Oh, that’s fine. You it’s a consultants firm, you can pick and choose which projects you want to work on. You don’t necessarily have to work on that it was just your skill set fit for that project. I was like, Oh, okay. So it’s funny, because you said that you’re self aware about moments in time in your in your life life? How cutely Lee, are you in tuned with your clients journeys, as well, like when you start to solve a problem that they have? Can you anticipate future problems that they may not be able to see?
Chris Do 29:33
Yes. And the way that we do that is actually not what the clients can see is more, what are the needs of their customers. So my clients have customers, and not that excited about solving client problems. But I’m very excited about solving customer problems. Because when you can do that, you help your clients make money. So they have all kinds of internal problems. I’m not excited about that. But when they say like we’re trying to reach this type of person, I dive really I understand our tried to build an empathy map as to who this person is, what a day in their life is activities that they’re doing their abilities, and where we are falling short to meet them, we’re not anticipating their needs. So when we can do that, we can build a relationship with our customers in a way that we haven’t been able to before and will win their loyalty will win their, their patronage and, and ultimately their money and will grow our company and will be able to feed our families, etc. So usually, clients are inside the glass jar, and they can’t see the label on the outside. That’s where you can walk over like, Huh, this is seeming like what your customers one, and we seem to be able to provide it but we don’t for whatever reason, let’s solve that problem. And when you can do that you can see like you’re building a relationship with your client in a way that few other vendors have been able to. So I’m not here just to do what you tell me to do. I want to help you understand the problem that’s worth solving, and aligning all the key stakeholders to get agreement on that. And then we’re going to go solve that. That’s the trick.
Jason Resnick 31:07
And that’s that’s where all of that price definition comes in that what the prophet might not be the most expensive on the block, but you’re certainly not the least expensive on the block. And I guess from my my perspective, from what I’m hearing is, is because of all your experience, your expertise that you’ve had over the course of your career, now you can, quote unquote, be that luxury brand, if you will, because you could say to those that are coming hundred thousand dollars to solve this problem, what would you say to those that are maybe not brand new, but they’ve started their journey this, they have some clients, and now they want to say, hey, look, I’ve built up some experience and I’ve grown my skill set, grown my acumen in a business way. How do I get to that next level of private my services,
Chris Do 32:01
okay, you are a reflection, or your prices are a reflection of who you are. So if you’re just fairly new out of school, and you’ve only been doing your craft for a couple of years, and don’t think you’ve attained mastery over this yet, and that’s okay, you’re not supposed to be a master instantly. So I would suggest a work on that a little bit. And be learn not only to speak the language of design and creativity, but learn to be bilingual, learn to speak the language of business. So you can do those two concurrently. And you’re going to find that the business concerns are very different than the craft part of it. They’re very, very different. So when you go into a transaction, or a potential client that you have on the line, the tendency is to speak about the things that you care about, you care about what typefaces you’re using the color palette, and the proportion, the scale the legibility to type, the latest printing techniques for the latest UX or UI trends. When your client at the end of the day doesn’t care about any of that. So they care about the bottom line, will I be able to grow my company, or will it shrink? So you go and you start talking too much about the craft part of it, thinking that you’re going to educate the client and sell them on premium design services, you’re actually doing a disservice to yourself and all of your training. That’s where I suggest start investing some of your time reading a few books on marketing, and business negotiation, self help self development, and start to understand the bigger things. I think it’s named his name is David trot, he wrote the book, one plus one equals three. And he says, so here’s the beautiful thing about creative people were able to connect dots, were able to form relationships between things that nobody else can see. That’s the gift of creativity. And the problem is we don’t have enough dots to connect all live in a vertical space. So you know the difference between Helvetica, Helvetica, Nova Helvetica now and Helvetica next, or whatever the different versions are, right, you know, all those different things. But outside of Helvetica, you don’t know anything about how to build a sales funnel, or conversion ratios or cost per acquisition, you don’t understand any of those things. So the dots all live in a vertical space. So the premise of the book is, we had, we just need more dots to connect that are horizontal versus vertical. That way, when you hear that person is having a problem with customer service, you can say like, Oh, I can connect that issue with something I learned in web design and bring those two worlds together. Would you do that? You’ll be seen as expert, somewhat of a creative genius, because everyone’s like, why do we ever think of that? You just don’t have enough dots to connect?
Jason Resnick 34:41
Yeah, that was a great book, I read that book as well. So I want to be mindful of your time, obviously. So I have two final questions. I have to, I have to ask on the live streams, I often catch your eye looking down and it appears that that you’re writing, and I assume that you are one, is that a notebook? And is there any way to see what that what you’re writing and jotting down or anything like that? Yeah. So it is a some form of writing,
Chris Do 35:16
or writing these little pads. They’re fairly disposable, right? Because I don’t want to get too precious with my thoughts. So I’ll tell you why. Right? When a guess is speaking, I don’t necessarily want to cut off their thought process. So as they mentioned things, and people tend to do this, they make compounded statements. If this is true, then this is true, then this is true. And so we all go along that ride. And so we assume that then it must be true. But I write down like just what they said as part A, and I want to challenge that. So I will just write a little note to myself. So I can circle back and you hear me literally say I want to circle back to this is and I have a different point of view. I want to discuss this with you, right. So that’s why I write. And I also have to do, this is what most people well don’t know, after do quite a few things during the live stream, and not only engaging with the guests, I have the soundboard. I’m taking notes, I’m running a keynote presentation. And I’m reading YouTube comments all at the same time. Right. So just try to imagine like crazy, you try to do one of those things and being present. And I’ve just learned to multitask. So as I’m writing the notes, or are things will follow up on the breadcrumbs. And so then later on, you’ll also see me looking down but there’s a look I’m writing anymore, it soon as I’m typing that in for the summary part of the show. And I have to be able to do this while listening to them and reading comments and being mindful the energy that I was putting out. And that’s literally what I’m doing. So sometimes I keep these little scraps. But at the end of the day, the scraps have to be deciphered because I don’t really write in full sentences I write sometimes with images, little drawings and diagrams. And they’re just shorthand for what I need to remember to talk about. That’s awesome. And that’s really all that is. So somebody else would have to be like some crazy genius ability is a big idea. There was a star dash dash two. I don’t know, it made a lot of sense to me.
Jason Resnick 37:08
Right, right. That’s, that’s awesome. Yeah. Because I’m always wondering, I’m like, is he do you sketch? You know, sketch know, the light? Is it just shorthand stuff that is at a timestamp? Like I’m always curious, like, of of the mechanisms or what goes behind those live streams? So
Chris Do 37:25
no, I wish your sketch notes, they can’t be that pretty. If somebody else were hosting, I could do sketch notes. Somebody else were actively reading the comments. So I like to read comments. And yes, I could do that. So Jonah, who’s editing on the fly, he is actually doing the timestamps with the key ideas. Right. So he can do that. And usually the third person in the ring with us is reading the comments as they go by and save them up so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow. So when they feel like this is a good point to insert that question that they do. So everybody’s got their job, I just happened to have a couple extra jobs. Awesome. They
Jason Resnick 38:00
had a couple satellites, he did eight arms to do all that.
Chris Do 38:05
And asked me somebody feeding me these graphics on. Nobody send me the graphics. I’m working on keynote right now, while we’re talking.
Jason Resnick 38:10
I know. I mean, I call it on that, that you kind of build those slides on the fly. And I just like, this is awesome. I got it. I couldn’t do that well enough. And a designer, nonetheless, is doing this. So it’s like a perfectionist, right? Like, you’re like, Oh, this doesn’t look right. But then I gotta pay attention over here. It says, I commend you for all the work things you do.
Chris Do 38:33
There’s one other little story here because sometimes my guest would say, oh, john smith wrote this book on blah, blah, blah. And everybody’s like, what? So then I have to go on Amazon while he’s talking to john smith and just find blah, blah, blah. And then it’s like, I think that’s the one then reader like that is the one so I can save the link and then type it in for people. Because they always want to know, like, what was the book that was mentioned? Because it’s impossible to figure out as they’re saying it?
Jason Resnick 38:57
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Well, everyone that’s listening, if you haven’t already yet checked out, go to the futures with me YouTube channel, check out some of those live streams, check out all of the content that it’s the team is amazing. I mean, obviously, they look like they’re just going to follow you off to the end of the cliff. But you know, it’s great content. It’s all for creative professionals. So yes, a lot of design stuff. But us developers, writers, it all fits. If your business is in the creative place. That’s where you want to go check it out, because there’s tons of business learning to be had there before I let you go. What’s up next in the next six to 12? months?
Chris Do 39:40
Hmm, good question. So I’ll give you this in many bite sized pieces in terms of like how to answer this question. What’s Up next is that we get to be in business every single month only if we meet our quarter, right? Because this is all bootstrapped, self funded. And there isn’t a trust fund, there isn’t this giant pile of money that somebody just gave me. So we’re building the business model as we’re in the business model, so to speak. So for us, it’s very important for us to hit our financial goals every single month, and quarter, or a little bit behind. And if all goes well, we will hit these numbers. And last year, December of 2018, will have been the last month we’ve ever done it. And it hopefully will be that way forever. I no longer wish to do client work, I only want to create content. So we have to keep making money. So there’s always this pressure, like what do we need to release new products run new campaigns? How do we grow our audience, we know that there are a lot more creative human beings out there that have watched our content and that have actually purchased our content. I think our lifetime customers is somewhere under 10,000. Whereas we have half a million followers on YouTube 80,000 on Facebook. So where are these people like who’s going to help make the future possible as we try to as much as possible document and teach people of creativity and even tutorials on Design for as little money as possible. So that’s that’s the challenge. And we need to hit our numbers because we like to grow as human beings, and we’re no different as an organization, we need to get to 800,000 subs and then pass a million subs. And it’s a lot of work because you start to tap into your audience. And in order to grow at that pace, you have to find a new audience. And now we’re experimenting with different formats you proceed Young Guns episode or season two, we’ve just finished Episode Four building a brand, which is kind of like our version of design reality TV, which we’ve never seen anywhere else where we get into the behind the scenes and do the nitty gritty to teach people what’s going on. And so we’ll continue to make more content. Probably the direction that we’re heading now is more scripted, edited pieces of content along with some really freakishly long, raw, uncensored live streams. I think those two combinations have been working well for us. That’s awesome.
Jason Resnick 41:54
Yeah, I’m excited to see what’s next, obviously, and the live streams as well. I love to see like produce stuff. Yes, that’s great. For me, just personally, I like the raw unedited kind of thing. And, and you guys do it smoother than anybody else.
Chris Do 42:11
I love it. Thank you see you part of our core audience. See, now you’ll you’ll you’ll show up for that. But a lot of people like us too long. And what’s the point and attention span of people are like getting shorter and shorter until it’ll be like the attention span of a gnat. So yeah, we don’t want to be foolish and that we’re trying to grow our audience. We need to bring people in two different vehicles shorter, bite sized piece of content. That’s what they’re asking for.
Jason Resnick 42:33
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I I’m 41. So I’m still old school in this game. So it’s like, I could sit there for an hour. Yeah. And watch that. Awesome, Chris. Well, thank you very much. I know where to say but where can people reach out and say, Thanks.
Chris Do 42:48
Okay, you guys can find us just about anywhere on any social platform. Except for Snapchat, we produce a YouTube show. It’s youtube.com slash the future is here. Jason’s reminded you, there is no he in the future, drop the ego. So it’s gone. The future is here. You can find this also on Twitter. I’m at theChrisDo. That’s my name on so also on Instagram, and on Facebook, you can find out about events, upcoming talks, and just things that we find interesting in the design business world on Facebook. So that will be facebook.com/thefuturishere. You will find this they’re awesome. Again, thank you for all your time and experience today. I know I got a ton of value out of it. I know the audience will too. And for those of you listening at home, until next time, take your time to live in the feast.
Jason Resnick 43:45
Next week, we’ll be back with David Kilkelly, who is going to share with us how to leverage LinkedIn video as an asset for your business that will help you increase your prices. Until then it’s your time to live in the feast.
Season 6: Pricing
More episodes in this season:
S06 E01 – Value-based Pricing, Impactful SEO Techniques, and Creating Great Client Relationships with Brendan Hufford
S06 E02 – Generosity, Pay What You Want Pricing, and Lowering the Barrier to Entry with Tom Morkes
S06 E03 – Developing Client Relationships, Leveling Up Your Pricing, and Getting Better at Business with Chris Do
S06 E04 - LinkedIn, Pricing Strategies, and Why Video is the Medium of the Future with David Kilkelly
S06 E05 - Mindset and How Goals Inform Your Pricing with Vito Peleg
S06 E06 - Consulting, Pricing, and Understanding your Clients with Hillary Weiss
S06 E07 - Case Studies, Client Research, and How To Create Killer Conversion Copywriting with Joel Klettke
S06 E08 - Story Lines, Positioning, and How To Differentiate Your Business with April Dunford
S06 E09 - Pricing Your Productized Services and Working with Intention with Brian Casel
S06 E10 - Knowing Your Audience, Making Mistakes, and Pricing Products vs Services with Jack McDade
S06 E11 - Creating Results and Building Relationships Through Your Pricing with Mor Cohen
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty