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How a designer survives the holidays.

cristian pacheco - luccaam graphic designer

Prepare your list of clients and what they will need for the holidays

Holidays are coming up? Don’t wait for your clients to tell you they need designs for their holiday sales campaigns. Most of them are extremely busy managing their business, ESPECIALLY during the holidays. The last thing on their mind is the creative work they’ll need for their fast approaching sale promotions.

Create a checklist of all your current clients that you know will run holiday campaigns or could benefit from launching one. This will make it easier to know who to contact and get it done much quicker. What’s interesting is that a lot of your clients will respond with “oh! I didn’t even think about doing a holiday sale but now that you bring it up…:” This is always a response I cherish because it tells me two things:

  1. We proved our value to the client by providing money making ideas, this builds more trust with your client and reminds them why they pay you to do what you do. It also shows them that you’re intentions are to see them grow.
  2. By just asking in advance we were able to get more projects out of that client, had we not mentioned anything they would’ve probably forgot or overlooked the sale opportunity and we would’ve missed out on another project.

How to ask?

We typically send out an e-mail or make a phone call to get the conversation going. A simple message is all you need, for example:

“Hi there, the holidays are coming up soon! We wanted to know what sale campaigns you may have in mind or already have planned for the holidays. Our goal is to maximize your sales as much as possible and the holidays are the busiest shopping period of the year. We want to make sure you have enough time to plan the sale details, create the ads, and schedule out the campaign. Let us know as soon as you have those details so we can begin to design or let us know if you need help to plan your holiday sale campaigns.”

Make sure you reach out and follow up, if they don’t get back to you look to confirm those details as soon as possible! Let your clients know you have their best interest in mind by showing them you care about their growth. Your job may be to design but knowing the importance of good marketing practices will make you more valuable.

Request for content

In order to get the design process started, you need all the content and details for the sale promotion. As designers, we can’t start anything until we know all the important information that we need to communicate through the designs. In addition to that, we need to know the purpose and feel of the sale to know what and how to design. At LuccaAM, we typically give ourselves a month before the sale date to get all the design work done. If you’re looking to plan for Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales make sure you ask for content around August.

Content to request:

Once you get content, make sure you have a conversation about the goal of the sale. This will prepare you to create designs around meeting those goals. For instance, if your client says “I want my Black Friday sale to clear inventory so I’ll have a 75% clearance to promote more sales”. This will tell you that the design really needs to emphasize the 75% discount and perhaps paired with a sales line like, “This Black Friday Everything Must Go!”. The important part here is to obtain the sale details and gain a feel for how the sale needs to be executed. Make sure you consult all your ideas with your client before starting design work to ensure everyone is on the same page, this will save you revision work down the road.

Design all content ahead of time

We know every sale is as good as the last one, it is very important that we improve each campaign for our clients. In order to do this, we need our projects to run on our time and not the other way around. When you work with strenuous deadlines, this can lead to burn out and poor quality design work. To avoid that, don’t sit too long on the content you got and jump on those campaign design ads. By starting early, you also give yourself time to review the design and makes revisions easier to do. We like to get content done a month before the launch date. This allows us to deliver and schedule designs weeks before it gets launched. One of the most ignored steps into a successful marketing plan is being able to monitor and adapt your sales campaign (tie in perspective on how to plan marketing plan). If you’re designing too soon to the deadline or during the holiday period you will not have time to test the performance of your designs/ads. The name of the game is consistency and growth, in order to keep clients and to grow your name is to over deliver on every project. Design ahead and give yourself the necessary time to schedule and monitor sales campaigns.

On a personal level, I like to design ahead to have more time to brainstorm creative solutions or ideas for our client’s sales promotions. It is easy to get into a tunnel where all you do is crank out design work to cross tasks off a list. This can eventually lead to a design rut or slows down growth due to complacency. To survive the holidays and still improve every day make sure you’re always looking to stay ahead.

Create block schedules

Every passionate designer will tell you they live to constantly improve and evolve their craft. This is something I personally live for, I put massive effort to making my next project my best one. Unfortunately there’s not enough time in the world to be perfect, especially during the holiday season. There’s so much work to get done, you can’t get lost in the details and over think designs. To help stay on track during the holiday season I schedule my projects by hour blocks during my work day. If you don’t know what a block schedule looks like, here’s what mine looked yesterday:

Notice how I only give myself a certain period of time for each project. As I work on the designs and see my timer, I know in the back of my head there’s a budget and goal I need to meet. This has helped me eliminate distractions and it forces me to not overthink details that would slow me down. It may feel harsh to push yourself like this but I’ve found that it’s a strategy that challenges me to really think about the design’s purpose and how I plan to accomplish the goal of the design. You would think being timed would add more pressure but surprisingly it helps me stay on track and has improved my design speed. Please be advised, there’s a balance to everything! Make sure you’re setting up realistic time budgets to accomplish the design at a high quality level. Never sacrifice quality just to get the job done fast, as I said earlier: consistently over deliver to every client possible

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