Whether it’s from clients or from fellow designers, I hear this a lot:
“Business was going great. I had a lot of customers and was really busy, but now I’m not because <insert reason here>. So I need to figure out how to market myself to get more customers.”
Do you recognize the big problem with this statement?
If you don’t, that’s okay, because I’m about to share why you should never catch yourself saying this ever again.
The BIG problem
The big problem with this statement (and similar ones) is that you’re not marketing yourself when you’re busy.
As conventional financial wisdom goes, if you’re too busy earning money to market your business, you’ll soon find you have plenty of time for marketing and no money.
In other words, once you run out of client work, you’ll have plenty of time for marketing because you didn’t secure new client work while you were busy.
Soon enough that leads to no money.
The excuses we make…and how to conquer them
When you’re busy with client work, it’s easy to make excuses. Here are the three most common ones I hear and how to combat them.
“I’m too busy!”
Solution: Schedule time to market your business and set deadlines for yourself just like you would for your clients. Use time savers like automatic social media publishing to spread content with a single click and RSS feeds of specific topics (think Google Reader) to focus your energy.
Be specific about what you’re going to do with your marketing time. This isn’t business surfing time; this is time specifically for you to accomplish something – be it fixing that bug in your website, planning your social media strategy, or writing content for your next blog post.
Remember, if it’s important enough, you’ll make time.
“I don’t know where/how to market my business.”
Solution: Focus, focus, focus. If you try to market a little bit everywhere, you’ll run yourself ragged. Where have you gotten the most clients, or where would you like your clients to find you? Here are some tips:
- Prioritize your social media efforts to two or three to start out with and then grow from there.
- Join your local chamber of commerce or similar economic group and start networking face-to-face. Potential clients in your community will be much more likely to hire you if they saw you volunteering at the food drive, sharing design tips with the mixers group, or joining the business lunch with the men’s or women’s group.
- Upsell your existing clients (yes, this is marketing!).
- Offer referral discounts. We all know client referrals are where most of the business comes from; don’t be afraid to ask!
“I don’t know what to publish online.”
Solution: The first step to successfully marketing your business is making a plan, so when you first start working on your own business, you need to figure out what your message is.
Try creating a marketing plan for just one month. Plan a theme or concept for each week that reinforces your overall message. The great thing is, you don’t have to decide on the content in the planning stage. You can publish original content as well as share existing content such as videos, images, blog posts, news articles, etc. that relate to each week’s theme.
Tip! Use Twitter hashtags to relate all of your weekly posts.
Example: My overall message is Greer Genius – A graphic/web designer specializing in information presentation and engaging content. So I might choose one week to focus on client engagement with numbers, the next infographics, the next presentations, and so on. In this way, I’m spreading a lot of information and examples on a specific topic with the hopes that engaging my audience with pull marketing will show them why they need my services to accomplish their goals.
Once you master monthly planning, try to schedule a 3-month plan. Remember to allow some flexibility in case there’s a big news story or event that you can use to piggyback exposure from.
Okay, GDB readers, it’s your turn. How do you market your business while you’re busy? What tips do you have to increase your efficiency and minimize your effort? Share your thoughts in the comments on this post!Written by April Greer April creates brilliant graphic and web design through her freelance design business: Greer Genius. She specializes in information presentation and engaging content with a splash of marketing prowess where needed. April is available for speaking engagements and mentorships - visit her website for her contact information.