Having worked for both UK and European design consultancies, I would agree with the points raised in Matthew Valentine’s article and Lynda Relph-Knight’s Comment (DW 19 February) on over-aggressive marketing techniques employed by UK brand and packaging consultancies.
When working for a Dutch-based design consultancy several years ago, with clients in Sweden, Germany, Italy and France, nearly all our business was introduced through recommendation. This is also true with the majority of our clients today, but when it comes to new business, it’s tough – not just because of the maturity of the UK design market, but also the number of design consultancies looking for business.
There are 51 pages of design consultancies in the Creative Handbook (approximately 2600). Add the smaller outfits not listed, and this figure is closer to 5000.
I am not making a case for or against what may be perceived as over-aggressive marketing techniques, but in a crowded and competitive environment, how else is a design consultancy to target potential clients other than by telephone or direct mail? Trade shows and exhibitions are affordable to only a few, and judging by the lack of colour pages featuring design work in the 1999 Creative Handbook, advertising is too expensive.
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