As mentioned in an earlier tweet, I (and 400 others) attended a conference call with Nika Stewart and Sydni Craig-Hart. During the hour-long call, the two successful businesswomen outlined five steps design professionals should take to attract more clients.
Here we go (my favorite is under # 4 but you need to implement all 5 to reap the benefits of the synergy):
1) Discover Your True Value
- What do you bring to the table? What sets you apart?
- What is your expertise? What is your niche market?
- Who do you serve? Who is your ideal client?
I suggest jotting down answers to these questions on a piece on paper. Don't over think it. The tricky part here is that it is a bit counterintuitive, you might think that the more you include the better. Well, no. The more you zoom in on what you are best at, the better. Think of it as doing a search on Google. If you type "Continuing Education", you will end up with results for any and all type of continuing education services, most of which will not be a good match for you. On the other hand, if you searched for "accredited continuing education seminars for interior designers", you will get a lot less results but they will be much more pertinent. Same goes for your clients.
2) Communicate Your Unique Brand
Once you have completed item 1 above, you need to phrase it out so you can communicate on it while in the elevator or while at networking event. Think of it as a marketing "speed dating" of sorts.
Sydni suggested answering two questions in one brief sentence:
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
I am an interior designer working on commercial, residential, hospitality and healthcare projects. (a no-no) Example 2:
I help busy parents create the eco-friendly master bedroom suite retreat they need. (Yes, much better)
If I were a busy parent (your ideal client) and you introduced yourself to me as in example 2, I would identify with your offer and probably want to continue a conversation with you or I might check out your website or blog for ideas and possibly hire you. On the other hand, if you introduced yourself to me as in example 1, I may not connect the dots (I don't see myself as a residential or commercial project) so I may not realize that you could help me solve the need I have for a "get away" in my own home. 3) Create Irresistible Marketing Material
Beyond stating the obvious (having a polished, clean and professional business card, website, letterhead, note cards and envelopes created) Sydni recommended:
- Creating "structured packages" that fits your prospects' needs and outline the value, benefits and price.
- Showcase your work on your website or blog. "Tell a story" as Sydni puts it. I think she is right on. We are now in what is referred to as the "experience economy". Part of what you deliver is an "experience". The magic starts with you then carries throughout your office, your website, portfolio, blog, etc.
- Use audio and video testimonials. It has never been easier to record snippet of conversation or record short video clips. It's so much more engaging. Not sure how, ask someone who does. You will be surprised how easy it is! Not ready for that, take pictures!
I wanted to add a tip of my own, if you need the polished business cards, etc. Do your self a favor and visit crowdsrpring.com and post your project there. You will be amazed the number of talented graphic designers on that website. 4) Create a Marketing Plan
5) Adjust Your Mindset
- Set clear goals
- Create the plan
- Work the plan to consistently and effectively market your business
- Here is my favorite: Partner with local businesses that offer services that complements (not competes with) yours. For instance, a professional organizer, a high-end real estate agent, a lawn maintenance service, why not private chefs, CPAs, etc. The idea is that each professional in the "partnership" becomes a resource for their clients, who turn into leads for your business. Say a professional organizer hears her client complain about her kitchen. She might suggest contacting you for her interior design needs. You may get the job and the client might suggest she is re-doing the kitchen because they plan on selling soon. You may suggest the real estate agent in the "partnership". You get the idea. This costs nothing to any of the "trusted" partners. There is no sales pitch involved, it is just dropping the right name at the right time. It is something you probably already do, why not formalize the process and benefit from it! I have been wondering who we could partner with...
All the strategies and tools in the world won't help you unless you "break through your fears" as Sydni puts it. I loved the acronym she mentioned: FEAR stands for "False Expectation Appearing Real" . Bottom line:
- We all have fears, often unfounded
- Take "can't" out of your vocabulary.
- Why can't you anyway?
- Create a support system: work with a coach or with like-minded people.
The Po!nt: In their ""emergency intervention call", Sydni and Nika articulated 5 ideas they guaranteed would help your business grow. Admittedly, "nothing new" but they made some very valid points. These are very actionable tips, read them, decide which to tackle first (or revisit if it is something you already do), come up with a plan for all 5 items and stick to it. Need more marketing inspiration, check out our own marketing tips on our DNA blog and post your questions. You may also want to visit Nika's and Sydni's websites. They also run a virtual marketing "boot camp" for design professionals that you might want to look into (not sure what it is worth to you but it costs $297. FYI, Design Arts Seminars, Inc. is not affiliated with and does not benefit from the bootcamp Sydni and Nika run.).
Don't be shy, we would love hear from you! Post your questions or comments.