You have been at this gig for a while, and you’ve proven you can make your creative side hustle a full-time occupation. You may be ready for that next big push, but are thinking more deeply about your marketing strategy. This is an ideal time to look closer at your existing branding and review the message it sends to your clients.
Yes, we know — you love your brand, because it’s yours! But it is also the primary way you sell your services to people unfamiliar with what you do. It’s worth a second look to see if there’s a way you can update your marketing to appeal to the expanded customer base that has yet to find you. Here are a few tips that may help you see your business through the eyes of a new prospect.
What Kind of Work Do You Showcase?
As a creative entrepreneur, you have a unique opportunity with your branding. It shows customers a sample of the kind of work you may do for them. Working in visual mediums, your look says a lot about your aesthetic taste and what you will bring to the table for a new project.
You may have an impressive portfolio that’s built on a lucrative niche. But perhaps you want to expand a bit, into unexplored areas of your industry. If you’re a wedding photographer or planner, you may have brought in significant revenue from local ceremonies with a classic look. How can you move beyond that niche, when it is precisely the base upon which you’ve built your reputation?
Breaking into the world of event weddings — where the couple skydives off a mountaintop, as an example — might require showing that you know how to capture the mood of such an event. Stay true to your business goals, but actively demonstrate your capacity beyond your past work.
This is an excellent reason to renew your marketing. You can use your materials to show your design range, while still keeping your brand an accurate reflection of what kind of business you want to attract.
What Services Do Your Clients Need?
There are many ways to frame what you do. You can “take pictures” or “help create lasting memories of an important life event.” Revisit the experience you offer to your current clients. Review your past client feedback and make note of what was most valuable to them. Then take that information and include it in your customer-facing messaging.
It’s an odd, but strangely rewarding, truth that what your clients love about your work is not always what you expected. It’s a great way to gain insight into your business that, as a focused entrepreneur, you may not otherwise have seen. You are providing value that you were not aware of — and perhaps could offer that same value to a new set of clients.
Once you’ve identified that added value, ask yourself whether it reflects a common need. Brides want a beautiful wedding, but they may also want peace of mind that no details will go unnoticed. They want Instagram-worthy pictures, but not photos that look like every other portfolio on Instagram. In your branding, promise these added elements: a stress-free, unique experience on the client’s special day.
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
It’s easy to get into the headspace of believing that, in your industry, there’s enough work for everyone — so what the other guy is doing doesn’t matter. In a way, that’s true; you’re not selling widgets (to use an old business term), you’re selling a creative experience. Small business owners are also better served to lift each other up than to engage in cutthroat competition.
But it never hurts to take a look at how some of your colleagues are marketing their services. It gives you an idea of what works; importantly, it also gives you a similar experience to that of your new customers. You can look at a competitor’s branding and see it through an objective lens. Ask yourself: Does this invoke an emotional connection, or make me want to get in touch with the business?
Many successful entrepreneurs spend a lot of time thinking about building their own business, often out of necessity. If you’re a one-person show, you just don’t have the luxury to think too much about the competition. Once you’re ready to go beyond your current client base, this kind of reflection can be particularly enlightening.
What Are Your Ultimate Goals?
Perhaps this question should come first in your list of considerations. After all, it certainly helps to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve when you scrutinize your brand. But it’s also key to remember to come back to this question every once in a while. Otherwise, you risk a situation where you’re following anything that seems like a good idea — even if it’s inconsistent with your vision.
Ultimately, your brand is a reflection of you as a dynamic and unique business owner. But as a business owner, you don’t just want to please yourself. There’s a tremendous benefit, and a financial need, in stepping outside of your own perspective and querying how others see you. The most fulfilling marketing strategies, creatively and revenue-wise, usually meld these two points of view.
And you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Sometimes partnering with a creative design agency like Oda Creative can help you see the potential in your brand. Talk to us and see how we can help you get your vision to your target market.