The news isn’t all gloomy

Don’t let depressing economic news get you down. Help is here, in the form of a hands-on workshop (with a special discount) I’m giving this Thursday for the Freelancers Union (sign up here) and in the form of tips from the trenches, where things aren’t all bad! I got this message from Jonathan Cleveland of Cleveland Design last week:

We are being bombarded with work. Why? Because the economy is tanking and large companies are laying off in-house design teams (they are always the first to go). A couple of our clients have greatly reduced the size of their internal design groups in the past month. They are also cutting budgets and getting rid of large external agencies. I think the work is ripe for the picking at this point for the small business or freelancer. Spread the word.

Jonathan’s experience just proves what I’ve always noticed about the economy: when one aspect is up, another is down. The savvy business owner is observant and nimble, watching closely to see how to adapt.

So I had a little chat with Jonathan to see if he had specific tips. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation:

Q: Why are internal creative departments the first to go?
A: Because they can outsource it in a second. There are plenty of freelancers out there ready to do the work.

Q: Who specifically can benefit from this?
A: If you have already established relationships with your prospects, you’re in a much better position. But even if you haven’t already done the up front relationship-building, focus on the large companies (the ones you’re most intimidated to call). They’re the ones who had people on staff but may not anymore, so they need the most help.

Q: Do you really think they are spending money on communications?
A: The thing to remember is a majority of the work still needs to be done, especially in financial services. They still need to have active business communications to develop new business. But they’re definitely looking for easier and lower-cost ways to do it. The fact that you’re not on their payroll makes you more attractive to start.

Q: So what exactly should we say?
A: There are two things you want to convey. The first is a question: If you know they have indeed laid people off, ask, “Are you hiring freelancers to help out on marcom (or marketing communications)?”
Secondly, you want to let them know you offer a better value compared to a larger firm. You can say, “I understand your team has been reduced; I can help you out. I can offer you great work at a great value.” Then, emphasize that your creative skills are at the same level as those in a large firm but you have less overhead and can therefore offer a better value.

Anyone else experiencing this too?