Your Design Business
Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been around for a decade, growth is always on your mind. No one wants their business to just sit still and grow stale. You want to grow bigger and get bigger and better client. So how do you do this? It can seem like a riddle or a mystery, but hopefully I can shed some light on some practical ways you can grow your business and extend your reach.
Support the Clients You Do Have
The trouble with a lot of designers and agencies is that they simply do the work, collect the check, and they’re done. The problem is, this is apparent to your clients, too. They realize you’re just there to get paid, which is fine from a strictly-business standpoint. If you’re looking at things from a growth standpoint, this is poor practice. When clients of yours have something big happening, like winning an award, or something of note, share their story via social media. It can be as simple as that. Mention them as your client, saying “Wow, congratulations to CLient XYZ for winning best product of the year.” A simple gesture goes a long way. Doing this does 2 things for you:
- It gives you an opportunity to connect with the client, showing you support, keep up with, and acknowledge what your clients are doing.
- It’s good publicity for you, too. Why? The reason is that other businesses will see that your clients are succeeding with your help, and that you align yourself with successful businesses. It adds an extra conscious and subconscious bit of credibility to your business.
Boost Facebook Posts
Now, this one costs a little money, but it is well worth the effort and doesn’t break the bank. You’d be amazed at how little it costs to boost a Facebook post and get a lot of reach out of it. You can and should write a positive blog post about the work you are doing, or a relevant news story surrounding your business. Share that post with your Facebook readers, and then boost the post. You can do several things with a boosted post:
- Set a pre-determined amount for the boosted post. You can determine ahead of time just how much you want to spend, and you won’t have to worry about breaking your budget.
- For just $5 – $10 you can reach a few thousand people.
- You can set specific criteria for a post and where it will be spread. You can select your city, and even a group of people or interests that it is shared with.
- You can run the promotion over a set period of time, which can be a day, a week, a month, or anything in between.
Go to Networking Events
I know it may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many designers try to grow their business from behind a keyboard. Nothing beats good old-fashioned face to face marketing. Be prepared to answer questions and genuinely inquire about other people’s business. As long as you’re knowledgeable and professional, you should have no problem getting business this way. You should be passing out business cards like your life depends on it.
Promote Your Successful Work
After you complete a project for a client, don’t bury it within your online portfolio! Your portfolio should be one of the biggest parts of your marketing strategy. You should set up your online portfolio, with social sharing buttons for each project. Write a blog post about your latest project, especially if it is a rebrand. This is one of the most effective ways to get attention for your work. Clients are likely to share your post and even offer social testimonials for your work. Use the Facebook boosting technique I mentioned above to increase your reach.
Go to Conferences
One of the most effective ways I’ve gotten business is that I’ve met other designers, who’ve outsourced projects to me they don’t have time for, or they don’t know how to handle them. They’ll pass the project off to me, because they trust me and know that I’ll do a good job for their client. This comes from a proven track record, so you have to make sure that you’re always on top of everything, especially for those projects. If you drop the ball, they won’t pass it to you again.
Go to industry conferences, meet and greet other designers, and show them what you’ve been working on. This is a surefire way to make friends in the right places.
Testimonials: The Holy Grail
Testimonials are one thing that can’t be argued. The point of our existence is to create a killer design, whether it’s for print or the web, and to make the client happy. If you can do that, you’re set. The thing is, it’s not that hard to do. All you have to do to walk away from a project with a happy client is to do your job! I know that sounds like a statement from Captain Obvious, but some many designers just don’t. I don’t know if it’s laziness, lack of enthusiasm or passion, or if they’re biting off more than they can chew.
Once you’ve done that, you’ve won Your business will grow. If you can get your client to agreed to put in writing “Hey this guy (or gal) is legit, and you’d be crazy not to hire him!” It’ll be tough not to find people that want your services. People want to hire people that have experience, and that has a great track record. Your design business depends on testimonials and word of mouth.
Once you receive a positive testimonial, put it everywhere! Promote it! Say, “Look how happy Bob for Bobcorp is with our services. His website is professional, it runs fast, and it’s easy to update. The branding and the messaging position them just where they want to be in the market”. When people listen to what bob has to say, that’s all you need. Your reputation does precede you, no matter where you go.
Growing your design business is essential to sustaining a steady source of income. If you do the right things, you can easily grow your design business steadily and quickly. All it takes is a sound strategy and consistency, and you’ll be around for years to come.