Start With What You Really Do
The first step in figuring out the proper marketing message is to look at what you really do. The production work you do is creating a logo, web design, or other graphic. But is that what you’re really doing for customers? They can get that work anywhere, for cheap. You want to show that you’re different, and that you are worth what you charge.
So what is it you really do?
Look at the clients you’ve been working with. Who are these people? What do they do? Are they project managers who have bosses breathing down their neck, and they rely on you to keep them out of the fire? Or perhaps you’re handling overflow work for a design agency, thus helping them to take on more design clients and bring in additional revenue. Or perhaps you’re teaming up with other freelance designers, forming a syndicate of sorts to get even larger design clients.
Take a hard look at the types of people you’re working for, and why they are buying from you. If you’re not sure, just ask. However I’m sure that you can come up with a pretty good profile based on what you already know.
Create The Message
If you’ve been designing sites or logos or any other graphic that is going onto company materials, then you’ve been involved in marketing and branding efforts. That’s the road we’re going down here. So now that you know what you really do for your customers, what you are really providing, the next step is to put that into words that grab people and really show the value you’re providing.
Let’s say that you’ve determined that you help small businesses to better connect with their customers by showing their personality through the design of their site, making them more human and approachable. If that’s the case, you might say something like, “At XYZ Design Firm, we help our clients connect with their customers at a deeper level, creating profitable and more human relationships that last.”
Or something like that.
Sounds a little hokie? Well, I challenge you to come up with something better, using your own words. I’m sure you can and I hope you do. Regardless of wording, the point is to take what you really do and connect with your customers on a deeper level. Sure everyone is price conscious, but if you can truly connect with them, you can negotiate a better position for yourself.
Spread The Message
So now you have an awesome message? Fantastic. Now put that sucker everywhere you live online – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forum profiles, etc. Everywhere. And in every piece of writing you do, be sure that if you don’t outright state your message, that it’s in the undercurrent of all your writing. Keep hammering away with it, and people will get it. And those that connect with it, have a much higher likelihood of becoming a new design client. As an example, I had one of our larger clients reading my company blog (at Atlantic Dominion Solutions) for more than one year before hiring us. And what got him to finally sign? The messaging we consistently hammered away with on our blog and everything we did.
Consistency counts for a lot.
The Bottom Line
Don’t rush into this and start changing your messaging everywhere just yet. Take some time to profile your design clients, find out what the commonalities are among them, what messages they may be receptive to, determine what your core message is, and how best to convey it. You job is to connect with design clients at a deeper level, so they choose you over the next person with Photoshop that claims to be a designer. Do that, and you can win.
What are your thoughts? Share them with me.
After reading through a few of my suggestions, feel free to add your experiences, thoughts, and questions by leaving a comment. How do you find new design clients? What marketing tactics do you use? What’s your marketing message and how do you get it across to potential design clients?