Dear Designer: Are You A Scope Creep Sucker?

Dear Designer: Are You A Scope Creep Sucker?

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a design project that seems to go on AND on, with no real milestones met and deadlines constantly extended?

Have you ever found yourself in a revising loop, tweaking and altering the tiniest details over and over again before you get the seal of approval from a client?

If you answered either of those questions with an affirmative nod of your head, you’ve dealt with some level of scope creep.

What Is Scope Creep?

According to Wikipedia:

“Scope creep (also called requirement creep, function creep and feature creep) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.

If budget, resources, and schedule are increased along with the scope, the change is usually considered an acceptable addition to the project, and the term “scope creep” is not used.”

Scope Creep Is Subversive

When scope creep begins its advance, it is often subtle, something you can easily choose to ignore.

Your client asks if you can add a little extra functionality to their website, or asks you to throw in a quick letterhead design to go along with their new logo. It won’t take much time and it will add a little extra something significant to your portfolio or case study right?

It’s right and it’s wrong. And here’s why.  While any design project is a collaboration with your client, when it comes to meeting your design brief and project deadline you’re the foreman, the manager, the boss on board. And if you allow yourself to be manipulated into tacking on additional work, you run the risk of losing your position of authority and becoming a do-boy or girl.

Eventually, unchecked, scope creep can derail design projects and erodes your standing as the expert in charge.

You don’t want your client pulling your strings like you’re a marionette, do you?

But, It’s Just A Little Change!

Sure, the little extra something the client wants might not seem like a big deal. It won’t take long. It’s well within your skill-set and area of expertise. But, was it factored into the scope of the project, the design brief, the contract your delivered and your client signed?

But when you say yes to that one little change, without mentioning that it actually changes and broadens the scope of the project, you let the client know you’re not going to stand firm on the design brief upon with you both agreed.

So it becomes all the easier for your client to request further tweaks, revisions and redesigns. Any of which can delay the project and decrease your bottom line.

Why Are You Charging Me For These Changes?

If you allow scope creep to enter into your agreement, it’s going to be all the harder to request additional fees when you finally realize you can’t continue to work for free.

If you’ve made five revisions, even though the contract stipulated you’d only make three, your client isn’t going to understand why you’re trying to charge for the sixth.

Stand Your Ground & Keep Clients Happy?

It can be done. A signed contract or a delivered design brief don’t mean you can’t compromise. Scope creep isn’t a foregone conclusion.

The key is to keep detailed records of each revision, each change request and each compromise. Be detailed and thorough. Let them know when you’ve padded the agreement in their favor. You don’t have to be supercilious or smarmy about it, just make sure it’s documented and understood.

I don’t think the majority of design clients are out to get you, let me make that clear.

That being said, it’s no one’s fault but your own if you don’t set standards for how and when the work will get done, how and when you’ll make revisions, and the proper procedure for any additions.

Otherwise you just might find yourself strung up like a sucker. Remember, either you control the project or the project will control you.

The Choice Is Mine: HAVE TO Is For Hustlers And Henchmen!

The Choice Is Mine: HAVE TO Is For Hustlers And Henchmen!

I don’t HAVE TO do anything!

Well, I take that back. I do HAVE to do a few things, like:

  • breathe
  • drink
  • eat
  • sleep
  • poop

But I absolutely, positively, no freaking way, HAVE TO market my business exactly how someone else markets their business.

And neither do you!

Opinions Are Like …

You know the saying, opinions are like a**holes, we all have one? It makes a point, albeit in a crude way (which I, of course, rather appreciate). But when someone tries to push their opinion on you as fact, as the ONLY way to act or move forward, that’s when things get rather sinister.

Belligerent blanket statement utterances don’t make you better than anyone else. They don’t make you a better marketer, designer, businessman/woman or human being.

Quite the opposite actually. Blanket statements can make you appear rigid, out of sync, behind the times, even downright clueless.

The one thing REALLY good marketers know …

is that there’s no single right way to go about achieving your aims and attaining your goals, especially via digital marketing measures.

Hustlers & Henchmen?

While I do live to alliterate, there’s more to my title than word flow.

My way or the highway tactics leave me cold for a variety of reasons, but never more so than when these tactics are touted as “good as gold” go-to gems for digital marketing and design success.

Remember all the old school SEO companies promising page one search ranks back in the day? OK, a few of the really less than legit are still doing so today, but I digress. Shysters all. And it took a lot of time, effort and writing article after article for the legit SEO companies and individuals to drive this point home.

I hate seeing great people get hustled

These great people have great ideas, products, services and more. They have so much to offer. Then they fall prey to a “Have To” huckster and, sadly, they lose a little of the light that made them shine so bright.

You don't HAVE TO do anything ... halt the hustlers and hucksters!Click To Tweet

 

It’s been said many times, by MANY a savvy social media marketer … there’s no ONE-SIZE fits all solution that will reap you immediate reward and everlasting fame and fortune.

There are NO marketing gods. Every marketer out there has a few failures notched on their bedpost. Dig a little deeper into these hustlers tactics and you’ll often find they fail to walk what they’re talking.

Let’s Halt The HAVE TO Hustle!

There’s really no room for song and dance shenanigans in social media and digital marketing. That whole trust, honesty, transparency trifecta should have put the kibosh on these klutzy maneuvers. Yet, they still abide, and, in some instances, abound.

Each business has its own personality, its own story, its own voice. It stands to reason, then, that each business should have its own marketing and design style.

Of course there are best practices that we all must consider implementing. But even best practices can bend a bit, be flexible. When you design and market your business and brand with the best intent and purpose, you’re on the right path, even if you break a few “rules” and dance to the beat of your own drum.

Seriously? Admit You Curate or Cut Bait!

Seriously? Admit You Curate or Cut Bait!

Before I dive into the topic, I need to clear a few things up:

  1. I’ve had this article on hold, partially written, for several weeks. I actually started writing it soon after recording a podcast session with Cendrine Marrouat of Social Media Slant. The topic discussed on the podcast was, cannily enough, content curation.
  2. I chose to publish an article on dissenting opinions as a lead-in to this article, in order to make a point. I can dissagree with an article, an idea, an opinion, without hating on a person or group. I can actually completely respect and trust someone and still, occasionally, disagree with them.
  3. It will appear that an article published by Carol Lynn Rivera of Web.Search.Social was an impetus for a rant. But, as stated above, I’ve had this topic in mind for a while. It would be ludicrous, however, for me to say that Carol Lynn’s article does not factor into my own publish. It does, indeed.
  4. My writing style is fairly combative, snarky and often meant to make people laugh, mostly at my antics and language, while also getting them to think. I felt no compunction to change my writing style before publishing this article.

So, the short and quick of it? I can disagree with Carol Lynn on this specific topic and still think she’s spot on 99.99% of the time. I can still share her articles, comment on her blog posts, and engage in conversations with her on Twitter and Google+.

And, because Carol Lynn is a savvy marketer that knows the value of duscussion and dissenting views, she won’t immediately call me a dick, a jerk, an a**hole, or any other derogatory name. She may absolutely call me snarky, though!

That being cleared up, we can dive into the topic.

C’mon … Seriously? You “Don’t” Curate Content?

Content curation has become the love to hate topic of note lately. Possibly closely followed by the whole content shock conundrum.

Part of the problem, as pointed out passionately and pointedly by my respected peer and lovely friend, Cendrine Marrouat, is the lack of a one size fits all definition for content curation. People can, and do, curate content in a variety of ways. Maybe they just don’t know it yet?

I’m Going To Share Content, But Not Curate It!

Say what? I’ve seen this argument a few times and it always leaves me scratching my head in exasperation.

Do you seek out the content of others because you can’t possibly create enough content to satisfy the needs of your audience? Yes? You curate content!

Curating isn’t something people in tweed jackets do as they sit amidst the dusty books in their library. You don’t have to share the articles you read and find worthy on Scoop.it or share them with paper.li to be a curator. But if you do, that’s groovy,too!

Do you seek out smartly written, savvy articles to add to your Buffer account? Articles that will be shared in a timely fashion via Twitter, Google+, maybe even Linkedin? Yes? You curate content.

Why Waste Time Researching & Reading?

One argument against content curation states that it’s silly to spend soooooooo much time reading and researching the content of others when you could be creating that content yourself.

I’m sorry, but are you both all knowing and all powerful? Omniscient and omnipotent? You can write on any subject under the sun without having to do any research, without having to reference any resources? Nope! I call bullshit!

If you create content without ever looking to your peers, your competitors and your betters (that’s right, you’re not the BESTEST at ALL BUSINESS) then the content you create is often going to be CRAP.

You’re not an expert on/at EVERYTHING. No one is. Curating and then referencing well written, helpful content means you care enough to educate yourself on topics that you think your audience might find interesting and helpful.

I Am Marketer, Hear Me Toot (My Own Horn)

Meet Joe Schmoe. Joe is THE marketer. It’s all about him and what he knows and shares. Everything he tweets is coupled with one of the following hashtags:

#Schmoesays
#Schmoeknows
#Schmoetivate

Joe Schmoe is a self important shmuck. There’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing your own content. You worked hard to create it, of course you want to get the maximum shares out of it.

But when you constantly hashtag your own content with #IKnowBest add-ons, especially that content which has long passed its expiration date for relevance or usefulness, you show your following that you’re not interested in sharing content with value. You’re sharing how much you value your own content. Do you see the difference?

Content Curation Isn’t Helping Your Customers

Or Landing You Leads …

It’s not? Color me shocked, because I absolutely take to Google to research the topics on which I am not an expert. Why? Because, once again – say it OUT LOUD with me, I’m not a flipping expert at everything!

I ain’t no guru! (and neither is Carol Lynn)

I had a meeting yesterday with a potential client interested in expanding their online presence and using that presence to recruit new talent. New real estate talent.

Go Creative Go has designed, implemented and managed real estate websites and digital marketing campaigns, but always with the intent to showcase listings and neighborhood benefits. Never with the focus on recruiting.

So, to prep for this meeting and to show this client I’m as knowledgeable as I can be about the subject of using digital marketing for real estate agent recruiting, I chose to look to the experts. I sough out, read and collected (curated) the BEST content on the subject.

I DID NOT INSIST on only sharing my own content. Why not? I’ve never needed to create it. I don’t have any.

Could I have created it? Yes, but there wasn’t a need. It was there for me to read and for me to share.

FYI, I landed the client even though I shared two articles written by competitors.

Curate Because It’s Already Been Said & Said Well!

Why do we feel we must reinvent the wheel? If someone with a sound grasp and understanding of the topic has already written the article, what’s wrong with reading it, asking questions if the author is available for it, and storing it for future use or sharing?

There’s nothing wrong with that.

There will be times when I can research a topic and manage to create my own fairly compelling content on said topic. But there will also be times when creating valuable content on a topic will simply be beyond my capability. I can’t become an expert at certain things with a quick Google search and and three article reads.

Some areas of expertise require years of study, practical training and much mentorship. In those instances it’s much smarter to seek out the smarts shared by those who are actually the smartest!

Curating Is About MORE Than The Content!

Curating is about connections, peer review and the potential for collaboration. I’ve stated this on many occasions.

When I share the content of my peers, I’m not doing it out of some ridiculous and unrealistic idea of reciprocity. The reciprocity share has never had any real value.

Where then is the actual value? In the connections made, the conversations had, the possibility of building a real relationship that will allow for sharing ideas and maybe even collaborating on projects.

I would not be who I am today without curating and sharing some fantastic content, which allowed me to connect with some great people.

So Put Up Or Shut Up!

Is Sharing Completely Different Than Curating?

Some would say yes. You don’t have to curate to share content. I disagree. You don’t share articles, videos or infographics that you haven’t read, viewed, deemed worthy and valuable do you? Of course not!

And I don’t disagree because I’m a dick or because I live to rant. Here are my reasons:

  1. Every time I record and subsequently publish a podcast interview, I’m curating content. That’s right. Curating! Without researching and reaching out to my guest on THEIR expertise, there’d be no means for me to create that “unique” content I’m calling my own.
  2. Every time I ask my readers to tell me what they want to read about, I’m curating content. Those ideas are NOT my own, even though I’m using them to create content to be delivered from the digital real estate I own.
  3. Every time I take the time to read an article, deem it worthy of sharing, and add it to either my bookmarks or Buffer for later sharing, I’m curating content.

Decide one way or the other! If curation is such a waste of time, and the smart and sensible way to market yourself and your brand centers on creating and sharing content that resides only on your digital real estate, that’s fine. Share only your own content if it suits your style and your business model. Some bigger brands do that quite well!

But don’t call me out as stupid, silly or lacking sense for curating if you engage in activities that, when looked at under the light of the many meanings of curation, as there’s no one size fits all definition, show you’re ACTUALLY, by some definitions, engaging in curating content.

Have At It!

I expect some reaction to this. There will be some agreement and there’s sure to be some disagreement.

But I do know that we can have a discussion, no matter our opinions, without devolving into name calling (and Joe Schmoe was just a writing tool, people, you know that darned good and well).

I look forward to some chatter, some discussion and even some smart, but sassy, snark.

And yes, I realize the fish in my photo shows a lure, not bait, but the only bait photos I could find were large piles of worms. Not really what I wanted to go with here, as I’m not trying to open a can of worms. Get it?!?!

Dissenting Opinions Don’t Make Me A Dick!

Dissenting Opinions Don't Make Me A Dick!

And let me just add to my title for a bit, if you don’t mind.

My dissenting opinions don’t by default make me:

  • Stupid
  • Naive
  • Mean
  • Rude
  • Negative
  • Nasty
  • A Troll

I could probably add to that bulleted list with tens of other words, but that’s probably enough to get the point across.

That’s right party people. I can disagree with your article, your idea, your infographic, even your business model and still be a positive human being. I can even be your friend and confidante.

Positivity Passionistas Need To Practice What They Preach

I’m so tired of seeing people spouting off that you shouldn’t pay attention to the “jerks.”

Who exactly are these “jerks?” Anyone who disagrees with them, with their specific ideas, views or actions.

Let me tell you something, princess … that’s not positive or perky or powerful. In fact, the word I’d use to describe it is pathetic!

Calling someone out as a jerk for simply asking a question about your idea isn’t showcasing your positive nature and can-do attitude. It’s showing your petty side. The one that only wants pats on the back and accolades.

While both accolades and huzzahs can certainly be social, the main function that most of us hope to achieve with our social shares is conversation.

Opinions absolutely are like a**holes, we ALL have one. But we absolutely don’t have to act like an a**hole when we share your opinion. And we don’t have to react like an a**hole when someone does share an opinion that doesn’t match our own.

Dissenting Opinions Make For Open & Honest Discussion

While recording a podcast episode with Ian Anderson Gray, this very topic came up.

He actually likes it when what he publishes garners a dissenting opinion or two.

If the only conversations you choose to allow must involve a consensus that your idea is the only idea, that your way is the only way, you’re actually closing yourself off to a lot of ideas that might enhance and strengthen your own.

Look at all of the great leaps forward in science and technology. Would any have happened if all the scientist naysayers decided they didn’t want to be a jerk by sharing their new theory? I’m guessing Steve Jobs would respond with a resounding N-O.

But, I Didn’t Ask For “Your” Opinion!

Yeah, actually you did. As soon as you clicked on the publish button you put your article, your idea, your graphic, your slides, etc. out for the world to see.

Leaving your comments section open and issuing a call to action to discuss just might get you … that’s right a discussion!

Do you honestly think that every reader of every article agrees with you absolutely, 100%, every time?

I can understand that you might get upset, and rightly so, if someone sharing a dissenting opinion calls you out harshly, calls you a name.

Wait, hang on a second, aren’t you actually the one engaging in name calling? Interesting.

Sugarcoating Is For Suck-ups And Sycophants

I don’t expect anyone to agree with me all the time. 24-7-365 agreement would be boring and pointless. How would any of us grow and evolve?

Every time I publish an article I know there’s the potential for pushback. And I welcome that pushback if it’s delivered in a calm, rational, based on facts and or experience, comment that opens up the opportunity for conversation.

I’ve seen that pushback from big names and small. And I’ve delivered my own pushback, again without worrying about the cachet and clout of the author. Even the big names out there are looking to converse. They don’t expect you to swallow everything they’re selling whole without asking any questions.

So, why should you expect that?

I’m often in the minority. And I’m fine with that. I learn something new with every dissenting opinion I read and choose to take in the spirit in which it was intended. A chance to engage in smart conversation.

My bestest digital gal pal and partner in podcast crime, Brooke Ballard sums it up:

… if you need a spoon full of sugar for the truth to go down, go watch Mary Poppins!

If You Don’t ASK, There’s No Yes or No!

At some point in your social media or digital marketing career, you’re going to face a time when you need to ask a bigger name in your industry to help you.

It can be scary to ask, for anything. We get that. Being told NO is never nice.

But if we spend too much time prevaricating and pausing because we’re worried we’ll get a negative response, we just might miss out on some fabulous and, hopefully, mutually beneficial opportunities.

If I Don’t Ask, I’ll Have No Guests To Interview!

After a less than well-planned first outing as a podcaster I’m settling into a partnership with Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media to launch a new podcast. Part of any such endeavor involves asking our peers and colleagues if they’ll take part in an interview.

Brooke and I spent almost an hour making an initial “ask” list. And while the making of the list was exciting and almost intoxicating, we’re not fool enough to think we’re going to “land” everyone we ask.

There are many reasons someone might say no to your interview request (or any other request, but we’re attaching this to our podcast launch, so we’re talking interview requests). Those reasons might include:

  • He or she has a full plate at the time of your request.
  • He or she would like to see if the venture proves successful before they sign on.
  • He or she isn’t sure your audience is their audience.
  • He or she isn’t sure your audience is big enough at the time of your request.
  • He or she may feel that your connection isn’t deep enough to grant the request.

I think the final reason happens more often than we’d like to believe. Why? Because far too many social media users consider the simple act of clicking follow to equal an actual connection. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Connections Take Time. Relationships Take Even Longer!

Clicking the follow, friend or like button is just the first step. The road to creating real connections that last and have the potential to become even longer lasting relationships is a long one.

That initial click is only the beginning of the connection. Trust and respect are earned over time, never with a simple click of a mouse or quick send of a less than well planned DM.

It’s important that you take the time to converse, share and get to know your connections before you presume to ask them for anything. Otherwise they’re rightly going to assume that your reason for connection was simply personal gain.

Want a YES the next time you ask?

Any and all requests will have more merit have a better chance at an affirmative answer if you take the time to create a real connection.

Of course you have to ask the question before you have any chance at any response at all, be it yes or no. And yes, as we already shared, the act of asking can be a little bit daunting. But it shouldn’t be.

Why not? Because you’re a smart and savvy user of social platforms who understands that it’s about the relationship and the respect long before it’s about the request!

What do you think? Have anything to add to this conversation? We’d love to chat it out in the comments section!