don’t give clients a reason to think that you’re a commodity

Through my daily reads, I tapped into an interesting conversation about the commoditization of design services. One point that stood out for me is how the traditional client-provider relationship gets flipped when the service and its offerer are seen as commodities. As one observer puts it: “Suddenly a client can define all aspects of a job from price to design, causing the designer’s role to change from that of a professional to that of a technician.”

This isn’t a wholly client-led phenomenon. It’s been fueled by the advent of online job boards and tournaments as well as a proliferation of designers who are quick to lower their rates in order to book the job.

Of course, this flip isn’t unique to the design world. As I’ve posted here before, a lot of people believe that lawyers are unremarkable and interchangeable. According to a Chicago Lawyer article on law as a commodity, there may be something to this since technology has taken the craft and nuance out of many tasks lawyers routinely undertake.

Some lawyers might not mind being considered commodities. Certainly, you can try to build and sustain a business on a platform of out-pricing the competition. But, my guess is that many more of us bristle at the commodity label. We want to be valued for more than just a competitive rate. We want to be recognized for the high quality of the services we provide our clients. So, what do we do to get the valuing and recognition we want and deserve?

One way is to get a better fix on what the people we help really want from us. Yes, they need fairly priced services. But, according to a range of experts, they’re also looking for service providers who share their interests, needs and concerns – who are part of their tribe. Putting his spin on the issue, marketing expert John Jantsch encourages us to pierce the commodity veil by giving clients what they’re hungry for: Community, experience, information and transformation.


One Response to “don’t give clients a reason to think that you’re a commodity”
  1. Nicolas Pacella says:

    This is something I have seen coming for 20 years. Ever since the services started being divvied up and non- designs firms start perform services like project management and owner’s rep. They take the cream and become the ones in charge of delegating work.

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