Need help getting out of a vicious cycle...


I need some advice on how to get myself out of the cycle of relying on 'bidding networks' for work!!! :icon_blushing:

The bidding networks (like PPH and were great when I first started out on my own right smack in the middle of the recession because they gave me access to foreign markets that weren't hit so hard and still had companies with design budgets.

Now I want to grow my freelance business into a professional studio, but as I'm sure I don't have to explain here, these bidding networks are too cut-throat to be able to charge full price for my work... I'll be lucky if I can get £180 to design a corporate branding package!! So I need to break the cycle and find an avenue to getting better clients that are willing to pay what good design is worth.

I've tried networking, and even have a telemarketing company that I outsource to once a month to do cold calling for me, but it's not really making an impact. Can anyone give me some advice on where I should be looking, or knows of anywhere where I can get access to RTQ or tender lists??

Any help/advice would be VERY much appreciated :thumb:

I'd forget about telemarketing (which seems like an idea that's pretty much had its time to me) and, unless you genuinely believe you have a strong chance of converting an opportunity, I wouldn't put too much energy into competitive tendering: it can be enormously time consuming and consequently carries a lot of risk in terms of your productivity. If I were in your position, I'd look into getting myself registered as a supplier with organisations who outsource their design work; it won't guarantee anything but it places you in the field and, if you've completed the vendor/supplier assessment process it can give some weight to any direct approach you then make to enquire about work. I've secured regular, well-paid work on this basis and, although I was invited to register through established contacts, I know that there are companies/organisations that are happy for anyone fitting the criteria to apply to be set up as a supplier (note: larger concerns generally require you to have limited company status).
Hey Dave, thanks for that. I'm already set up as a Limited company, so no worries there. Are there places were companies register their requirement for suppliers, or organisations that manage that side of things for businesses/public sector? Or is it a case of contacting companies direct and asking to be put onto their preferred supplier list?
Dave/Sam, Im very interested to know more of this as well. Ive only been set up on my own for a year now and learning new things all the time. Any other info on this would be great.

I don't know of any one-stop source for this sort of information - it's really just a way of approaching targeted organisations that's a bit more solid than a random, cold pitch: identify people who outsource design (or use suppliers for overspill from an in-house team) and enquire about getting yourself registered and approved.

Research is the first step, though.
From the bit of research I've been doing the past few days, there's loads of places to find information on public service and government tenders, but is going to be a bit of struggle to find out who in the private sector outsources their design through the tender process.

Looks like there's no escaping the dreaded cold calling :Cry:
Have you tried taking a day or 2 out and walking up your high street with a bunch of business cards? Nothing beats face to face meeting and striking up friendly conversation. I wouldn't bother hitting major chains, Boots / Carphone warehouse for example, but if you have a local high street with smaller independent shops its a great start.

I was in the doctors surgery last week and got onto my job. She then asked for my business card.
I agree with Arrivals, sometimes face to face can be a real ice breaker, and let face it. Cold calling is only every going to damage your reputation in todays market. You should read "The Thankyou Economy" by Gary Vaynerchuk. In that he talks bout how business big and small need to go back to focusing on customer relationships and really building personal bonds with clients.

Big brands are going to be very difficult to nail, but smaller firms often don't even really know where to go for graphic design so you're actually doing them a favour by introducing yourself. Look for companies that have really crappy branding and send them a [very polite] email offering your services, do a bit of research before hand to say what you would change ect... so they're getting a little free advice. It's pretty time consuming I know, but it does work, and you build a good relationship that results in repeat business.