2018 marks my 30th year of self-employment as a consultant serving the design industry and here is the essence of what I’ve learned about the best way to market your creative services in the 21st century.
You will find the highest-quality clients and projects when:
That means you have to learn to speak the “lingo” of the customer, which isn’t easy for many designers and other creative professionals.
But don’t worry; it’s not your fault. While you have studied your own craft, it’s unlikely you have studied the needs, the language and especially the pain points of your clients (which I wrote about recently here). That requires a different mindset.
Even once you’ve developed that mindset, once you’ve established who you’re looking for, where to find them and what message they need to hear from you, you still have to figure out which marketing tools to use to reach them.
The problem is, there are literally thousands of marketing tools to choose from these days. It’s enough to overwhelm even the most ambitious!
That’s why my mission has become to constantly simplify marketing for creative professionals.
Looking ahead to 2019, I’ve distilled it into the 3 most effective marketing tools, which are:
Let me say a bit more about content marketing, because it’s often misunderstood.
Last week, one of my designer clients was explaining to me why he doesn’t want to do content marketing, which he defined as “long articles and blog posts with the right keywords.”
The thing is, he’s already doing excellent content marketing with a very funny email newsletter. But he doesn’t realize it because he thinks “content marketing” = “lots of words.”
If you think that too, let me try to expand your mind.
Content marketing is definitely not just words and it comes in many formats — that’s part of the confusion.
Yes, Google likes words. But your prospects and clients like video (YouTube) and audio (podcasting) and images on social media (Instagram), of course!
For designers and other visual communicators, content can consist mostly of images with a few carefully chosen words. Here’s one of my favorite “excellent examples” of the latest email newsletter from Bluebird Design about a pet peeve I know almost every designer has. (She also has an adorable tidbit in there for fans of animal crackers and I am one!)
To choose the best medium for your content marketing, think about your market and ask:
If you don’t know, there’s no reason not to ask. (More about that in Part 2.)
The big idea here is this: the simple strategy is where strategic networking and targeted outreach meet bat-signal content marketing featuring your ideal clients and their pain points.
In other words, to get better clients with bigger budgets in 2019, you must use these 3 tools in an integrated way, by connecting the dots and getting your message in front of the right people over time and in multiple media.