This article has been contributed by Lidia Staron.
Creating a successful marketing strategy for your design business does not have to be complicated. There are simple ways to make an effective marketing strategy to help you grow your brand.
If you want a steady stream of clients and prospects, here are our top tips for building your business’ marketing strategy.
Tip #1. Choose your Niche or Target Audience
The easiest way for designers to make quick money is to just accept all the clients that walk through the door. It’s pretty simple, right? You just ask what they want and you do the design work. It may sound easy, but not all designers are a jack of all trades, and not all have a bunch of prospective clients approaching them.
There are designers that are known to create amazing works for specific industries. By specializing within a specific industry, you can save time and energy and you can focus on what you are good at. You can build a reputation for yourself within that field and potentially grow your client base more than if you cast your net wider.
By focusing on a specific niche, you can easily refine workflows, improve your productivity and also provide high quality insights to your clients. So, how do you choose a niche?
- What type of design work are you attracted to?
- Think about longevity
- What type of businesses usually come to you?
Tip #2. Create your Online Portfolio
For designers right now, having a resume won’t do the trick. If you want to build your brand and become a popular designer around the globe, you have to create your own online portfolio. Include more than just images of your work – make sure you include all the elements of a successful portfolio.
You should post all your work online. Most prospective clients will ask about this when they enquire about working with you. You have to remember that showing them a diploma or any certificates you have won’t mean much to them. Most clients want results more than anything else.
(This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upskill – there are a bunch of excellent courses for designers. But the results of your learnings on your work is what matters to clients.)
Even if you are not a degree holder or you don’t have any certificates to back up your claims, they may well hire you based on your online portfolio.
Try to be as diverse as possible on your online portfolio and make sure that it will showcase your skills completely.
Tip #3. Build a Network
Here are two good ways to build a network:
- Attend events and strike up a conversation
- Participate in online discussions
If you are a designer and you want to build a network, the first thing you should try is to get to know as many people as possible. Strike up conversations with anyone if you are at an event and try to display your skills and knowledge when you are having discussions online.
The most important thing when building a network is to think outside the box and try to showcase your skills without advertising your services. Just tell new people you meet about yourself and your skills and just mention that you have a design agency or you offer design services.
Build a relationship and not just a one-time transaction. Try to get to know a new contact as a person and they will look for you if they need your services. If they know someone who is looking for design services, they will refer you to their friends, family members, colleagues and more.
Tip #4. Optimize your Online Presence
First impressions last. If you want your design brand to flourish, you need to make a solid first impression, especially online. Most of your potential clients can be found online and you are not only targeting people in your area.
Before you announce that you are a designer or start offering your services, make sure that your digital footprint is all set and ready. Here are some of the things that you have to prepare:
- Make sure that your website is stunning and easy to navigate. It should showcase all of your beautiful work so potential clients can easily see the quality of your brand’s services.
- You need to have your own social media accounts. Most of your clients are already on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Update your Google My Business listing to make sure that your clients will easily find you.
If you plan to optimize your online presence, you should look into all-in-one marketing platforms like Adrack. They will help you build your presence online and make sure that your clients will easily see your services when they need them.
Tip #5. Join in Contests
Most designers are afraid to join contests because they don’t want to lose. There are some designers who lose their confidence when they fail to win a contest. You have to be strong and you should always consider failures as life lessons and a way to improve yourself.
Basically, joining design contests is a win-win situation for you. If you lose, you will learn how to improve yourself and you will have more experience in dealing with real design problems – plus, you can add your submission to your online portfolio. If you win, you get the prize and profile it on your website.
Always remember that winning designing contests will say a lot about your skills when it comes to designing. Although not everyone looks at your contest awards, this will be a good start for you so you can make a name for yourself.
Tip #6. Be Active in Forums
When it comes to designing, forums should always be one of your top priorities because this is where fellow designers exchange their ideas. There are forums that are made specifically for this purpose and you can learn from this and share your ideas as well.
There are also forums where there are a lot of clients to be found. Basically, these people enter forums to find a good designer to help them.
You can also be active in other forums to showcase your skills and knowledge. You can start a poll about designing or you can just answer the questions that they have. Do not forget to include a signature at the bottom and make sure that you put your website and contact information there. If other users are satisfied with your answer, they might refer you or even hire your services.
Tip #7. Showcase your Work
There are so many different ways to showcase your work and you just have to take advantage of all these methods to make sure that potential clients will be able to see your designs.
- Getting together a content strategy is a great place to start. Define who you want to showcase your work to, what you want them to do and how you’ll find them.
- Post your work on social media. Your potential clients are mostly on social media. They usually find designers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more because it’s easy. If you want to show your designs to the world, you should start with social media sites.
- Give free designs: You don’t need to worry because giving free designs does not necessarily mean that everything is free. It is more like a marketing campaign because you still put your watermark in your designs.
Tip #8. Redesign Other Designs!
Do you want to find a way to easily get the attention of potential clients? One of the best ways to do it is to redesign existing designs and make them better. This would take a lot of work because most of brands already have their own designs and logos. They won’t change them easily, but that doesn’t mean that they are not open to other opportunities, like new campaigns that will require design work.
By redesigning, you can showcase your skills and you can tell prospects that you have what it takes to create designs for their future campaigns.
Tip #9. Engage Design Influencers
If you are still new to the design industry and you are building your career from scratch, you will surely have a lot of idols when it comes to designing. You can just share their work, and the work of your new peers, along with your insights or opinions about their designs.
This is a good start to build your career as a designer because no one will notice you at the start. Do something small regularly and eventually, someone will notice your skills and knowledge.
You can talk to these influencers or you can just send them a short message or email telling them that you really admire their work. You can also share some of your work and ask if they can provide any feedback.
Tip #10. Offer a Freebie
Offering a freebie can also be a good marketing strategy to build your design career. If you already have social media accounts for your design agency, you can start by asking your communities to share your post.
You can tell them that if a certain post manages to reach a certain number of shares or likes, you will give someone a free design. This is just a simple gimmick that you can use to get more exposure online.
If you get a lot of shares or likes on your post and page, you will surely get more fans and your brand will have more exposure.
Traits That Successful Designers Have
Now that you know 10 effective marketing strategies to improve your design career, there are important factors that you need to know so you will succeed in what you are doing.
1. Continue Learning
A designing career does not end after getting your diploma or degree. Even if you know how to use all the advanced editing software in the market, learning is lifelong.
If you are going to enter the design industry, you need to know that most clients out there are looking for designers with the goal of making more money for their business. Knowing how to design a logo is great, but you need to have some knowledge when it comes to marketing and brand strategy. You need to do your research and learn about the behaviors of the target clients and how your client’s business will meet their needs.
2. Keep Doing It
Many designers give up when they have been doing something and they are not getting any results. If you are really dedicated to what you want to do, you cannot just stop just because the going gets tough.
If you are having a hard time finding clients, keep doing what you’re doing but tweak how you’re doing it. Consider the marketing strategies above and make changes if you need to.
Perseverance and determination, along with some trial and error, will help you get the success that you want.
3. Embrace Change
When it comes to the design industry, change is inevitable. The things that you thought you already knew will suddenly change in the blink of an eye. The designs that you have been doing in the past may become less effective because new marketing trends are dominating the industry.
You have to remember that you are not the only designer and all of you are trying to change the design industry. All you need to do is to go with the flow. Embrace changes and adapt to them.
The design industry can be very difficult, but with the right marketing strategies, you will surely be ahead of the competition. There are so many designers out there trying to find new clients. They are also as good as you so you should never be complacent, no matter what.
Keep improving yourself and implement all the marketing strategies mentioned above and you will be successful in your design career in the future.