Would you like to reach clients in a way that hooks them and feels good to you? Want to get clients but feel uncomfortable with traditional marketing methods like cold-calling or advertising? Put these tips into practice to find your ideal clients and still be yourself.
I don’t even want to read this post because it’s got the m-word in its title.
If you don’t like:
- shoving business cards at people;
- acting fake;
- or calling strangers to ask for work…
… then you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of ways to promote your design business or freelancing.
That’s a relief! So what should I do to get clients?
Firstly, avoid the marketing pitfall many organisations make: they start choosing marketing tasks before knowing how they’re different to everyone else out there; before understanding what their ideal client wants to hear about; and without knowing what the marketing should achieve.
There are so many other designers, what makes me different?
Get a pen & paper:
- Note the problems you enjoy solving for clients – things like “presenting information so people read it” or “site navigation that encourages people to buy”, etc.
- List your strengths – not “websites” or “corporate ID”, more “I understood what that client wanted, when they weren’t sure themselves”.
- Write down the jobs you love doing, maybe you have loads of ideas for this kind of work, or it energises you.
- Note the experience you have – not “Worked for Studio X 2009-2010”, more like “I remember a client saying they were unhappy with the way the studio dealt with them”
- List the business values you have – not “professionalism”, that’s a given.
I’m getting clear on me as a design business-owner now, how will that help?
We’ll add that to information on your ideal clients, to create targeted messages that go to the right places.
I’ve worked with clients, but I’m not sure I have any “information” on them.
If you have clients you love working with, think of them when you answer this section. If you don’t, create a mental picture of your ideal client and do some research.
- List what your ideal clients do work-wise or business-wise.
- Note what they’re like as people.
- Write down their top three business problems.
- What sort of verbal language do they use?
- What visual language do they resonate with?
- List where they are, what they read, and what they do – online & offline.
I want to create work for lots of ideal clients, can I get on with the marketing now?
Great question! The third vital ingredient is knowing specifically what you want your marketing to achieve.
- Examples could be: “get three new blue chip clients who wanting packaging designs”, or “increase the work I get from existing clients by 20%”, etc.
- By what day, date and time?
- What resources do you have? How many hours/days are you prepared to invest in it, how much money can you invest in it, could you do an exchange with a marketing expert?
I see what you’re getting at, so what should I actually do?
To avoid feeling like a salesperson, let’s look at marketing activities you would enjoy, because what you enjoy you’re likely to be good at and less likely to procrastinate on.
- Write down ways you enjoy communicating with others – whether it be writing, referring freelancers to each other, social media, phoning people, speaking at an event, or something else entirely.
- Note where your preferences overlap or match those of your ideal clients.
- Now combine your marketing goals & your preferences, with your ideal clients’ preferences – that could be your marketing sweet-spot.
If examples would help:
- Enjoy writing? Creating articles or blog posts useful to your ideal clients might appeal. Use titles like “How To Hire A Designer” – use your imagination plus your answers about ideal clients to decide on topics. Submit them to blogs that your ideal clients read, post in your own blog, submit to online-article sites.
- Like talking to groups? Giving talks to business organisations (subjects as per a. could be good.
- Prefer social media? Sharing tips that are useful to your ideal clients keeps you in clients’ minds & shows you have what they’re looking for.
- That’s three ideas – I’m sure you can come-up with many more.
Write down the dates and times you will start & finish each of your marketing ideas – and put that schedule where you’ll see it every day.
Sounds do-able. Anything else I should know?
Review your marketing every three-four months, to do more of what works for you & your clients and less of what doesn’t. After reviewing, schedule time for finding the next round of jobs and clients.