Imagine you have spent weeks working on a pitch or presentation. You’re confident that the work is the best it can be, you’re so happy with it you cannot wait to share with colleagues and clients. No doubt you have thought of what you will say, what you will wear, and how you are personally presented when you get to your big moment…but have you considered the environment in which you pitch or present? This is all part of the branding experience with your business. Just like your logo, website, marketing materials and product and service, your environment in which you work speaks volumes about your brand. The options for small businesses with no office space are varied, and should be considered carefully to find the right match for your brand, and most importantly your client’s comfort.
On-site with the client.
If you are going into your client’s office, finding out the technology you will be using beforehand is vital, if you are pitching on PowerPoint or though other software, make sure your files are compatible, and that you have all the adapters you need. You will be working in an environment your clients are already familiar with, so they will be comfortable, but do all your prep as you will be the outsider, and you need to fit in with their vision as seamlessly as possible – always be prepared. You won’t have any control over the environment and your space in the room will be relatively temporary, so make sure all your presenting gear is easy access and in a super smart bag.
At your home office…
If you are a sole-trader or freelancer like me, and are courting smaller businesses, it will be up to you to provide the perfect backdrop for your meeting. Friends and family may be welcome into your home office, but remember everything about your home, even when it’s with people you know, will speak volumes on a branding front. Chaos and clutter? No – have a good clear up, spray furniture polish on the radiators, light candles and have some well-kept flowers or plants about – imagine your space as Instagram friendly as possible, and make a good coffee. I work with close clients quite a bit in my own home, but the relationship must be familiar enough that I can open up my personal space to them, and that they won’t be put off working with me if the cat makes a sudden appearance, and their coffee comes in a My Little Pony mug.
The coffee shop pitch
Meeting at a coffee shop? Do a recce before-hand. I know some lovely coffee shops on the High Street near where I live in Tunbridge Wells, great for friends, or a quick catch up with a client, but not always best for meetings. Are they always manic busy? Will you be able to get a table? Is there room for a laptop or portfolio to be shared easily? Also consider the food offerings, we’re looking for a wide range of foods and drinks so that your potential client or customer has a healthy choice food wise. Also think about the light, are you presenting on screen? I had the wonderful experience once of sharing my portfolio on my Ipad, only to discover on holding it up to my dream client that you couldn’t see any work, just masses of little sticky finger prints – so I’m a scatty mother whose kids have too much screen time – not the uber creative professional I would like to be… So do your homework, find the best place beforehand, and make sure you can present well. Also wipe fingerprints off everything, it’s just not chic.
The professional space – a hired meeting room…
Now this is a great option I have discovered recently, after visiting OfficeTribe in Tunbridge Wells. In my dream world (love a good dream world) I would have my own agency, with glass walls, comfortable chairs by ridiculously expensive designer names and young hip cat assistants to fetch bizarre but delicious drinks – joy of joy my potential clients would be dazzled and excited just to be there! On-brand in fantasy land for sure, but definitely not on-budget, so in the meantime renting a meeting room is for me a great idea.
At OfficeTribe in Tunbridge Wells, the rooms are light and airy, with everything set up for a slick presentation or workshop. There are big tables for notebooks and marketing materials, plus room for the coffee (really GREAT coffee from Beancounter Coffee) and there also plenty of healthy foodie places nearby, such as SuperFood, for pastries or snacks. The décor of the offices has also been nicely considered, it’s smart but not corporate, tidy but has character, for my creative business brand it’s a good fit. Better than a noisy coffee shop, and less stressful than a last-minute ‘Marie Kondo’ style operation for the whole house. I also like the idea of ‘owning’ the space in the pitch moment, rather than walking in to someone else’s ready-made environment.
OfficeTribe is perfect for me as I work with many local companies, it’s close to my house, close to the Station, and it has co-working space, so has a buzz about it that some other rented spaces don’t have. So until I can afford the glass walls and amazingly pretentious décor that I quite fancy for my brand, I would be happy and confident to present my work within these four walls.
By Elizabeth Barrett, EB&Co Design