7 Steps To More Clients For Creative Professionals Author: Anne Miles As a Creativity Coach and working in the advertising industry for 27 years now I see so much good work that just doesn't get made. There are so many reasons why this occurs (and believe me I could go on for ages about that) and today I focus on the simple concept that many creative professionals who work for themselves don't actually know how to sell and market their work. Sadly, there was a philosophy many years ago that so many people still hang on to that 'good work sells itself'. Unfortunately, that's just not true. If the good work isn't being seen or the person buying the work isn't the target market then it takes a lot more than luck and good work to get it through. For those in larger creative businesses perhaps this is a refresher or some distinctions that will make a difference for you. Step 1: Define your Niche Where in this world of business and creativity do you fit and how can you find the unique thing about you? It's likely that, as a creative person, you're doing it every day for a client's product but what about you? I can guarantee that most of you don't think like your service and skill is equally a product that others buy. Firstly, believe that having a clearly defined niche will actually attract to you more clients than if you are a generalist creative or provide too broad a service. When people have a particular problem and they're looking for someone to help them do they look for a generalist or do they look for someone that specialises in that exact problem? For example, if someone wants their plumbing fixed when water's all over the place do they look for a generalist plumber or do they look for one that advertises as '24 Hour Emergency Plumbing'? The more defined you can be the better. They say 'there's riches in the niches' (of course I still can't remember who said that so if anyone knows please let me know). Make your niche a book title Be able to define your niche as one simple sentence under 7 words. If it were a book title what would it be? Having it sound like a book title where you know what it is all about and what problem it's fixing for your clients then you'll know it's working. For example, "Emergency Plumbing Inner West" says it all. I'm not saying that you need only to be a designer if you're also a designer, web builder, art director and a writer, however being wishy washy about what it is you do is going to get you wishy washy results. It also doesn't mean you can't have more than one niche going at the same time either, it's just that you promote yourself as that one thing to one crowd and another to a different crowd. So, if you're an all round creative then perhaps that's your unique talent. Then that can be niched into a specific thing you offer, say 'websites under $2000' is a headline version easily communicating a possible niche. If someone's looking for a website to be made you make it a no-brainer solution for them rather than thinking about hiring a writer, marketing person, art director, designer, web designer. Another option would be to say 'Design One Stop Solutions' (you'll find a way to say this that's not so cheesy). If you offer yourself as a generic designer then you'll be overlooked when someone wants to build a website or have a total campaign designed. The big fear is that when you specialise you'll lose a whole bunch of work, however the likelihood is you'll attract a lot more of that one kind and the kind you want. The real key to all of this is in targeting to what your client actually wants as opposed to what it is you do or what you want. Step 2: Mindset! Ok, so this might not quite be what you expected. There's a lot of method in this and a really crucial part to getting your creative business where you want it to be. Without this first step properly figured out you'll be reacting to all the forces of the outside world that you face from day to day and you'll be making decisions based on the mood you're in or how much pressure you get from others. Get your mindset right before you start ploughing along with your actions and all your decisions will fall naturally into place. Having this mindset established will help you streamline your actions to head more directly to your successful results. Know your client in your mind Create an avatar of your perfect client and in any correspondence, marketing or sales situation speak with this avatar in mind regardless of who is in front of you. Know their worst fears, what makes them tick, give them a name, what do they do on the weekend, what will your service provide them? If you seek ethical and professional clients then imagine them fully this way. If you come across clients that don't fit in your avatar description then happily forward them on to someone else. Know who you need to be Who is it that your client really wants you to be? What is it that they want you to provide for them above all? How do you need to be when you deal with them to make them get the feelings that they're after? Once you know this then you can be that character. This is not a fraudulent version of you however, it's just accentuating the parts of you that are required for this job. Much like when you visit your grandmother, you leave behing the rock and roll part of you, and present yourself with respect to your grandmother's needs. So, now that you've thought more about your perfect customer does this change your niche to something even more specific and defined? Step 3: Get the Systems together By now you're probably figuring out that I am not a run of the mill kind of girl and that you'll get something a bit left field from me. I trust that while others are zigging, that my zagging will help you do something unique that will give you an edge you need right now. So, no, this isn't about the boring old systems that you need to set up the business and to be able to calculate out your revenue, profits, and cash flow. Dull! That's not that exciting to me at all (sorry to those people that have this kind of brain). I'm really keen on systems and process that affect your end results; your product, your innovation and your marketing though and a lot of the work I do focuses on this in larger creative businesses, so it's a total passion. However the big deal right now is to think of your systems as the back bone of your business and set them up now ready to handle your overload. It's really important to be prepared for the load that's coming, but yet don't waste time on being perfect or getting it just right in a way that restricts you from moving forward. So, keep it in balance all the time. Some of you may say that you're working with a creative product or a bunch of creative people and that systems only stifle creativity. I can assure you that after 27 years in the industry you are dead wrong and saying that is a sign of plain laziness. There is no excuse alive that can get you out of having good systems and processes! How can you be creative without any boundaries. The boundary is the thing that allows creativity to exist in the first place. I'm not suggesting having systems that are too controlling or limiting by any means, it's just about getting the right ones. The big mindset around systems is that you need to look at them and ask yourself 'Do they support your creative product in the end?' Now this isn't always quite what you initially think. If having a smooth invoicing system that gets your cashflow going easily that in turn helps you keep your stress factor down, then that is actually a system that is supporting creativity. If your time management process forces you to be out of control and do everything last minute and limit the potential for the particular campaign then that is negatively affecting the creative product. So, get this stuff all sorted before you start getting too busy to handle it all. Are your clients educated around your approval processes before the job starts? If not, you could be pushed to the limit and the end result is either compromised or it doesn't make it through. That could be the last work you'll see from that client. If you're a tiny, tiny business right now, and have plans to be making good money, you need to act as if you are setting up a franchise for a bigger organisation. My key to knowing if you have this right is asking yourself the question 'If someone (even you) dropped dead right now could the company keep running without that person?' Have a system for admin overload if you start to get too busy, even subcontract to someone you trust or get some virtual support. Getting the admin and more menial crap out of your hair is a system that supports creativity in my view! Step 4: Character, Content and Community There are a few major ingredients that are sure fire ways to get you speaking to your clients (remember your avatar talking to their avatar) in just the right way. So, as you'll see these secret ingredients are totally powerful and need to be used with integrity. Generously give and generously believe that you are providing a service or a product that will genuinely make the customer or client's life easier or better in some way and that you are helping them by making the sale. The idea is that any communication you have with your client or prospect, this is the way you engage them: Character Firstly speak with your character from the perspective of the avatar that your client wants and speak to the avatar of your client. This is so vital. If you were asked to tell someone one thing you learned at school, you would really struggle to be able to answer that. On the other hand if you were asked to name 3 Seinfeld characters you would easily be able to do that, right!? That show hasn't been on for nearly a decade. So, characters are what people remember! Content Give away plenty of stuff for free and be totally generous. Giving comes back to you somehow in the long run. Give a lot of your best stuff even, just not necessarily all of it to the depth that's available to you. Even hook up with a charity and do work for free. Educate and support your prospects over time as it's not always an immediate buying decision in fact it's most of the time that your prospects are not buying when you're selling. Some of you will say you have nothing to give - I challenge you! Find something that will engage your clients to want to know more, make a 'making of', a comic, a blog for creative reviews, free resources, 'how to'. You're a creative person! So use that creativity to find a way to be in your client's mind that is not at all about selling. Community Build a community by setting up blogs and other social media, create memberships sites and have a website with clear communities including somewhere for them to aspire to be. Start a serial comic newsletter that they can contribute to online. Don't exclude the concept just because I haven't listed a specific thing right now that you see working. Keep open to it and find a way. Go crazy and find someway to get them to feel part of something bigger and keep them following. You may even need to hook up with others to make this work. Step 6: Free ways to Market Wow...this was hard to get the list so small, but here you go.... 1. Network 2. Blog - Yours 3. Blog - Others 4. Linked In 5. Joint Ventures 6. Hold an event to network (yeah, even a drink down the pub) 7. Speak at events (you'll think of something - how to tell if a design is good) 8. Produce Articles/Designs and post online 9. Piggy back off other businesses - relevant businesses 10. Contribute to other's websites 11. Magazines - eg. Trade Journals - get PR 12. Write an ebook/comic 13. Have someone else give a testimonial about you 14. Hold mentoring classes 15. Invite friends and friends of friends to events 16. PR releases 17. Write articles for relevant magazines 18. Be in someone else's book 19. Get referrals from your clients 20. Go to expos Are you OK to keep going? Another 10? Can you handle it? 1. Hold a competition (Check the rules. First 3 clients to do X get Y) 2. Twitter including your website keywords 3. Facebook group 4. Ads at local shopping centres 5. Ask people you meet if they'd like a free report for their details - print the offer on your business card 6. Do some pro-bono work to get more referrals 7. Sponsor a charity 8. Join a professional organisation (eg. Local BNI or Chamber of Commerce) 9. Appreciate your current clients 10. Get photographed with someone of note It's all about getting them to come to you! No more cold calling and having to push and sell your heart out. Ahh! How good it is to have people come to you looking for what it is they want and when they're getting ready to buy... so that's qualified leads (that's the big difference). Step 6: Lead Generation Qualified Leads Coming to You The two biggest hot ways to get leads to come to you right now using Online marketing that's low cost and really effective is Google Adwords and Facebook advertising (Yes! Facebook is the new hot thing just like Google Adwords was many years ago when all those hot marketers made it big). (a) Choose a website domain name that describes what your clients get in your niche... like www.moreclientsdoneforyou.com, or remember your niche from before? (Just check how many characters Google Adwords allows for a weblink first or you'll be stuck). For those that are new to this you'll need a website host as well. (b) Write your ad with what the client or prospect wants and NOT about what you do or about your service. It still needs to be clear about what you do and it needs to be true, of course. Adwords and Facebook have a bunch of rules to work within that I can't go into fully here so read about them online. (c) Make a website landing page (the page where people land so you can collect up their name and email address). You'll need to give a decent offer (remember the C for Content). Make sure you can put a form where they enter their name and email address and you have a system there to catch the details (of course never sharing the details with anyone else). You can use a service like Send Pepper or icontact to do all this. No need to be really creative at this point (go on - force yourself!). Don't waste time building a complex website all beautifully designed until you know it works. Sendpepper have great tutorials on how to set up the whole thing and they do landing pages with the higher level of product. Try a free trial and see how it works for you. Make sure the form to catch the email address and name is on the right up the top somewhere as apparently that has more success than any other position on a web page (go figure). (d) The landing page can often have long sales copy on it (more on that another day) or otherwise just copy the kind of thing I've done at www.moreclientsforyou.com. (e) What about filming a short video of you talking about your product or service as google videos rate right up the top of an organic google search. (f) Follow through with a proper website once you know that you're dealing with a successful product, adwords or facebook ads and that the niche is working. Ok, so here's the sales strategy of all time that in the wrong hands could be used for foul play. So, the important factor here is to be ethical and handle this with respect because it's very powerful. The key mindset to have when selling is that you are helping your client have something that will make a difference to their life or their customer's life that they would otherwise not know about unless you were to help them. We are to use this tool with the intention that it is the opposite of pushing people into a sale that they don't want, we are to back off in a way that gives them the space to make their own decisions. Remember that people hate being sold to but equally love to buy. The powerful thing about this method though is that our prospects or clients are allowing their unconcious to step forward, take over and to be more likely to say 'yes' to our sale offer. Please know that none of us will do something we don't really want to do and that sales techniques ordinarily push us away from decisions that we may have made with less 'sales force' in the them. Often we may actually want to buy but the process of being sold to pushes us away. This method is very simple but very powerful and takes away that risk of losing the clients that really want to be open, so use it wisely. Step 7: Sales Strategy #97 'Mis-Matching' Have you ever noticed that there are a number of people that just want to say the opposite of what you say no matter what it is? Have you noticed this in yourself? The interesting thing is that a huge percentage of humans are what we call in Neuro-Linguistic Programming as 'mis-matchers'. So many people just want to do the opposite of what is proposed of them, so the key in sales is to do the opposite of selling to get more sales. Go figure. Part of this though is that people hate being sold to (me included). We're all smart enough to make our own decisions if we have the information we need so we need to present what we have to sell in a way that keeps the door open. If you're thinking that this sounds ethically unsound then that is something within you. Speaking respectfully and with a tone of curiosity and interest is the same as choosing to speak politely and curb your swearing when you visit your grandmother. We all tailor the way we talk to people in different situations and this is another of those. The key thing though is that it's been measured as a key part in multi-million dollar businesses converting clients and what I'm interested is in the study of success and passing it on to others to have similar successes. None of what I suggest here is to be taken literally as they are just examples. You'll need to work through your own niche and client and figure it out, ethically to fit the situation. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself 'how would someone that was really successful in your niche speak about their product right now?' Mostly they speak as if they don't need the job, that they're busy enough without it and only want to do certain projects. Once you find some information about your prospect you can ask questions that highlight the obstacles that they may be experiencing related to your product. Say you're a designer, and you're talking to a prospect, you could say something like 'a lot of companies are typically very safe, will your company want to play it safe here?'. (Note that this is not the same as saying 'You look like you're dull and safe and wont approve my awesome work in a pink fit!'). Or 'A lot of businesses are really tight with money these days at the risk of really watering down their creative results, will your company want to compromise the results?' It needs to be done without judgment and accusation. Tone will be all the difference. What they'll want to do is to try and prove to you how they can approve creative and interesting work, and they'll want to give you the most money they can to make the job work. Continue on this line of questioning to keep exposing all the reasons why they might not be suitable to buy your product and you'll find they are doing their best to convince you that they are qualified to buy it! You need to also look like you're taking on board their comments and address their concerns by talking about how you would normally solve that particular issue for your previous clients. That's an indirect way to sell what your service includes. Most of all you need to have no pressure or anxiety about making the sale in your mind, in fact I would go so far as to say that any conversation that has the intention of making a sale as the only outcome is destined to fail. If we consider the sales process a 10 step process then this conversation is actually number one in the process of education and building a relationship. You're more likely to move your client to position 9 where they're making the final decision to buy (or not). If they're really not a suitable customer, then this will also let them go as well and to me that's ethical because you're not having to think for a second into pushing hard to sell to an unqualified lead. Happily tell them that if you're not the right fit for each other you will refer them to someone else. Now, remember we're dealing with people's unconscious mind here and the way that humans are programed, so it's really powerful. So, do this with respect and total mindset of giving service to others. Be careful not to be too negative, make sure they're inquisitive questions and don't come across with misguided arrogance. Step 8 Bonus! Get feedback Without knowing why your clients are buying from you and why other prospects are not, you need to ask them why. Do not be afraid of feedback for fear of being emotionally wounded. See it as a gift that will get you to the next level of success. Explain that to the client as well as that will also allow them to feel more comfortable about being honest with you. A lot of times the issues are so small and easily fixed, but it's the one thing in the way of your success. Let's see more good work getting through. Anne Miles Creativity Coach www.creativitycoach.com.au www.moreclientsdoneforyou.com Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/branding-articles/7-steps-to-more-clients-for-creative-professionals-1946535.html About the Author Anne Miles is passionate about getting good work made. Anne has 27 years experience in creative businesses and has a unique view on creativity. Essentially she believes that creative professionals already know how to be creative and it's a matter of getting the right combination of support and mindset to get the work through. She has hands-on experience to know what it takes to affect good work from everything creative professionals do from mindset, strategy, marketing, sales techniques, systems, processes, communication andpresentation skills. With neuro-linguistic programming and high performance coaching strategies as the basis of her work you'll get a unique spin on leveraging your creative results. Anne works with both smaller companies, freelancers and larger businesses that rely on creative work for their results.