14. September 2012 · Comments Off on Designer-makers: champion your suppliers! · Categories: Main Blog, Product Development, The Business of Design, Tips from Marion
If you value your contacts share them!

If you value your contacts share them!

Graphic designers and illustrators credit their printing suppliers, but I often hear that product designers and designer-makers can be protective of their manufacturing contacts.

Why hide your contacts?
Is it a fear of competition? Is it the belief that if your suppliers are less accessible to fellow designers, you’ll have less competition? And then we’ve all heard about how difficult it is to find good manufacturers in the UK or anywhere vaguely local. So despite government initiatives championing manufacturing businesses via innovation and design, we still have struggling manufacturing businesses. There is a simple thing small design businesses can do to support British and European manufacturers: share your suppliers’ details.

The same way that designers like to be mentioned and credited when they are commissioned to do a piece of work, manufacturing businesses need orders to survive. They, too, can’t afford to have all their eggs in one basket – they need large, small and medium-sized orders from a variety of clients. Since most design businesses are on the small side, it is very likely that your suppliers can’t survive on your orders alone.

Here are some simple tips to help you share:

  • Be clear. I dare you to put your suppliers’ details on your products, website and communication materials.
  • Be loud. If you know of a fantastic small workshop that makes wares of exceptional quality and that people can travel to over a day or two, tell everyone and use social media to share the good work(shops). Don’t you like it when your clients do this for you?
  • Be chatty. Have a conversation with your suppliers about how to pass them business. Tell them about other design companies you know that might use them. When is their quietest time of year? Have they got expertise, a piece of technology or know-how they don’t value?
  • Be creative in the way you do business. For example, if you struggle to meet the minimum quantity requirements, could bringing another small account to this supplier help them to meet your demand?

Story CubesIt’s good business practice to introduce someone to your suppliers. Keep doing this; become a valuable client and it wouldn’t surprise me if you were to find them going the extra mile to keep you happy.  People are screaming for referrals; any designer can gain so much from sharing their contacts rather than hiding them!

I provide guidance and advice on how to interact with your manufacturing contacts whether they are suppliers or potential clients – get in touch! www.mariongillet.com

Alternatively, have you tried www.mymas.org?

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