Take your firm to the next level with your own in-house, out-of-office designer.
Planning firms respond to RFPs, create regional plans, write detailed position papers and white papers, create public information pieces, educate key decision makers on best practices and more. The amount of smart, painstakingly detailed content coming out of firms is staggering. But what does it look like? And who is it engaging?
The big firms have staff designers, who create professional documents that give them an edge and get their work noticed.
But if you don’t have an in-house designer, what does your firm do? Are you stuck spending your own time messing around in Microsoft Word or Publisher, struggling to add pictures and graphs, not quite sure which size/color/weight you were using for your headings or subheadings, creating an inconsistent mess? Are you handing it off to an intern or one of your planners in your office who happens to know InDesign just enough to improve the look, but they’re spending hours more than it should take and that’s really not their job description anyway? Wouldn’t you like to just skip that whole step, focus on what you’re great at and still have brilliant, engaging materials that improve the built environment, connect with more people, and win you more business?
It’s time to outsource your document design. Here’s why:
- Better engagement: Look, planning concepts are tricky for people unfamiliar with the whole thing. When I tell most people I have a degree in city and regional planning, I get blank stares. What public-facing documents need most is a hierarchy that guides readers through, pointing out the important stuff along the way like a tour guide. Materials that are professional, polished, and visually alluring pull people in. Graphs and data that are clearly presented are a win. From politicians to city residents, give your readers a chance to engage with your smart content, without the subtle distractions of poor design.
- Professional edge: If you’re a small firm, great design can legitimize you. You work hard on proposals and responses to RFPs, so give yourself every advantage to land the job by bringing your materials to the next level with smart document design. And once you’ve won the project and done the hard work of studying, planning and recommending solutions, deliver a report to your client that presents your content in the best light. A top-notch end product will leave your clients feeling impressed and eager to recommend you to their peers or hire you again for more incredible work.
- Branding: There’s no way around it, branding is increasingly important for planning firms. Branding builds trust. When millions of dollars and the future health of a region are on the line, decision-makers are going to need that trust to feel confident hiring you and following your recommendations. Within the first few projects, we’ll develop a house style for your materials that will extend to any project you can imagine. People will start to recognize your output as coming from your planning firm, both because of the consistent style and your bold, well-reasoned recommendations. For large-scale projects, with multiple public meetings and mid-project recommendations, we can even build sub-branding that works with your branding, so the public develops familiarity and trust in the final outcome.
- Time savings: You have better things to do with your time than struggle with your documents. What could you do with the hours that using a designer for your materials would free up? Win more projects, create better work, explore a new service, connect with more decision makers.
Making smart outsourcing decisions is better for the growth of your business, for the quality of your work, and for the happiness of your clients.
Here’s how we can work together
If you have never worked with a designer before, you may want to start with an initial project or two. You get a chance to see results and what a house style for your firm can look like and we’ll tweak it until it’s just right for the image you want to present. I’ll walk you through the process, from how to mark up your documents and prep your graphs, to advising your on print or digital specifics. You’ll be left with something you’re even more proud to distribute because it showcases your firm’s amazing approach.
Once you’re comfortable with working together (or if you’re ready to jump in right away), we can set up a retainer agreement that gives your firm priority in my schedule. We’ll discuss the number of projects you think you’ll have for me in a time period (generally 6 months to a year) and build a custom proposal just for your firm. This is where you’ll really see the time savings, as in no time flat, you’re going to be a pro at prepping your work to hand off, and the major design decisions will be made. You just produce great content and I’ll be there to polish it and present it professionally.
Make your firm’s branding approach rock-solid with brochures, tear sheets, project pages, packaging and more. Imagine handing a branded folder off to a prospect, filled with staff bios, a list of your star client roster, and 5 case study pages demonstrating your firm’s experience with the exact kind of project they’re looking for help with. Have incredible materials to hand out in client meetings, city hall and conferences that present you in the best possible light. Polish up the 6 white papers you have written over the past few years. You’re a contender, so let your materials act like it!
Help people to visualize your plans by using graphics that fill currently empty lots with vibrant, mixed-use buildings or redistribute street usage. I have plenty of experience manipulating photographs and creating diagrams. I know how important showing the public the possible future can be and I can help you achieve it.
Events and other support materials
Strengthen your image by having branded signage, maps and handouts at public meetings. Throw an expertly-designed event as a mixer for other planners in your region. Engage in the little extras that raise your profile in the planning community and the public. My event materials design background (it’s my other specialty!) will help you create a cohesive experience that will keep you and your projects in the forefront of people’s minds.
If any of this intrigues you, please reach out so we can talk more! I’d love to partner with you today!