New year, new reality

Christmas is but a distant memory, and the harsh facts of life in the downturn are about to hit home. Adrian Shaughnessy tells designers what they can expect

Here are ten things that designers are going to have to get used to in recessionary Britain in 2009.

• Aggressive calls from the bank manager. That likeable duffer who bought you lunch way back in the summer will turn into a snarling attack dog in 2009. When he calls up now, it won’t be to invite you to lunch but to find ways of recouping his employer’s losses in the global currency markets.

• Fewer calls and e-mails from clients. These will become as rare as gold fillings in hen’s teeth. And, strangely, when you call them – you know, just for a chat – they will always be busy. They will promise to call you back, but, of course, they never do.

• An increase in calls and e-mails from people who are not clients. Telephones will ring incessantly and in-boxes will fill up hourly with speculative approaches from freelances, photographer’s agents, illustrator’s agents, printers, photocopier sales people and Bulgarian Web programmers. But not clients.

• Lots and lots of internal new business meetings. In recent years, new business has taken care of itself. One job finished and another came along with the result that you let your website get out of date, and that mailshot you’ve been using for the past three years is looking a bit sad. Suddenly, you will be redesigning the website and planning a series of mailouts that, if they don’t attract new clients, will at least be a contender for next year’s D&AD Awards.

• Discussions about which magazines to stay subscribed to. You will not renew subscriptions to many of the magazines that turn up on your doorstep. You will let most of them go, but decide to keep Design Week and a funny little magazine called Varoom that only turns up three times a year, so can’t cost that much, can it?

• Pegging the late-night-working takeaway allowance. After looking at last year’s food bill for late-night working, you decide to set a £5 per person limit. And, while you’re at it, you announce that there are no more account taxis unless it’s after midnight.

• Learn to smile when a client tells you that they want you to repitch for the brief you’ve been doing for the past three years. You’ve done the work, your client has been happy with it, but now she says she wants to ‘have a look around and see who’s out there’. You smile and say, ‘Sure’, but, really, your heart is boiling with hate and loathing. • Getting up 4.30am to drive huge distances for a meeting. A potential client rings up. He asks if you can meet him at his factory. ‘Of course,’ you say. Then he tells you that it’s 300km away and on an industrial estate which is so hard to find that even the local fire brigade don’t know where it is. Oh, and he wants to meet up at 9am.

• Calling up the client you sent packing in the summer. Remember her? The one who made you laugh when she told you what her budget was? Well, maybe she still needs the work doing. Just give her a call to see if she’s still looking for someone. The budget wasn’t that bad, come to think of it.

• Lots more lunches and dinners. Have you wondered why restaurants are still full? Easy. Everyone’s furiously entertaining potential and existing clients – the ones they didn’t have time to take out when they were round-the-clock busy. You didn’t think it was because business was still booming, did you?

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