Creative business owners get into the profession because they love design. We all come to this work from the creative side. And many of us, whether we have been in the industry for less than a year or more than a decade, at last come to a sighing admission: I m not really good at the business stuff. Its the design we love, not the numbers and the administration and the marketing. We wanted to do creative work and then discovered that the business stuff is unavoidable.
Be yourself. Your creative work is a reflection of who you are. When you start a creative project, you bring your true self to the task. The outcome wouldn’t be authentic if you didn’t show up fully. Don’t try to be someone you are not. If you are a solopreneur , don’t be afraid to say it. Don’t try to seem more corporate than you really are. Stay true to yourself and your brand and ultimately you will attract the right clients. As a solopreneur I have found that embracing my small yet creative business is far better than trying to make it seem larger and more corporate,says Kimberly Dow of Frederick, Maryland-based Kalico Design. I’m able to get more personal with my clients because they deal directly with me as the creative guru and business owner; they feel more comfortable because they actually get to know me and respect my advice because I can relate to their small-business needs, fears and triumphs.
Do your homework. If a client asked you to create a brand for a new product, you wouldn’t start the design work before doing your research. Sometimes that’s the most fun part of the project. In business development, that’s your market research phase. This discovery work should be scheduled, documented and well-organized. Reserve the time on your calendar, decide which research tools you are going to use (from information-gathering phone calls to networking to competitive reviews) and have a good database program to track your leads. Sufficient time spent on investigation and analysis will reveal new marketing opportunities for your business just the way research sparks new ideas for your creative projects.
Get out of your comfort zone. It may feel safe to create the same work again and again, but its only when we push ourselves that we see new ideas emerge. Remember the times when you took a risk with creative projects for your clients and saw your design rise to a whole new level. Do the same with your marketing activities: Begin writing a blog, for example, or contact a publication in your niche and offer to be a source for an article. That will force you to break from your routine promotional plan and step into a new territory where growth can happen.
Principal Rochelle Seltzer of Seltzer Design Intelligence in Boston hosts quarterly breakfast forums for her clients and prospects as part of her marketing activities. Public speaking wasn’t natural or easy for her, but by committing to these events on a regular basis she is reaping the positive results of presenting herself and her firm as experts in a way that people remember. I had done some speaking before, but not as routinely as I have been as part of these breakfast forums, Seltzer says. They have been getting easier and more comfortable for me as we do them.
Pursue many options. You know how fired up you get when you are working on a project and you present more ideas than your client asked for? You hope that among all of those ideas lies the perfect solution. The best design option is different for every one of your clients, and you won’t rest until you explore each one. Similarly, your marketing materials can be as abundant as your ideas. Using different methods to touch different prospects is key. The greater the variety of tools, the bigger the chances that your prospects will think about your agency at their time of need. Using the same method you use to decide how many ideas to show your client for a design project, decide on how many marketing tools you can manage and stick to them. And don’t be afraid to try them all.
About the Author
Bob Chapman I have been self employed my entire life. Find out more about Bob Chapman at his website about ==> autoleadgenerator and Bobchapmanstrongbrook.