How you market yourself has a big impact on perception by a potential client. Often your creative business grows not because your skills get better (although that always helps) but because you start to rethink how you position what you are offering. This typically happens in three steps:
We all start out this way. When you first set up shop and provide services, you almost always list them in very basic terms. Web design, photography, music creation, marketing, social media, graphic design, etc. You list just what you do. I take photos of your event. I will design a website for your needs. I will market you on social media. You have a need, I fill it. Simple and to the point.
The next level is when you start to look at the big picture. Instead of just designing a website, you sit down with a client and figure out how this will fit into their marketing. You position it as a solution to many problems. Instead of just doing logo design, you begin to research how the logo will be used, where it will be shown and how it can extend the client’s brand. You move from providing just the mechanics of a service to being a partner in your client’s strategy.
This is when you tap into a client’s primal desires. People want to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. You take them there. Most modern advertising is based on this. Cosmetic companies like Revlon are not just selling a service (this will make your lips red) and not offering a solution (this and other elements will make you fashionable) they are selling the pleasure (this product will make you beautiful and desirable). This step is when the client is buying on emotions. From a floor cleaner to a frosty ice coffee to a new car to insurance coverage, thousands of products and services are positioned to appeal to people’s feelings, not their specific needs.
Many business owners and creative media artists are only around step two of the three steps. But start to think about how you can move to the third level. Years ago I was one of the first photographers to get a digital camera in my area. It was an exciting time, shooting as much as I wanted and not worrying about film. I promoted it heavily on my website, in ads, everywhere that I was a full digital studio. Over time I realized, people did not care about megapixels and workflow, they just wanted to look amazing in great shots. I started focusing on the aura of the process, the feeling, as opposed to the mechanics of the craft.
You may be thinking, I code HTML, how sexy can that be? I do a print ads for a hardware store, I am not Revlon! But remember it’s all story telling, every creative artist and business owner is telling a story with their work and client projects. The key is to tell a story that is not mechanical and straight-forward, but one that is visually involving, has a dramatic narrative and taps into people’s emotion.
This goes for all your promotional materials as well as your paid projects. It is the difference between what a new freelancer may do and what a top agency produces. The agency works to create an emotion or reaction out of the viewer, it is where the standard mechanics stop and the compelling story telling begins.
Basic clients are looking for a basic task, bigger clients are looking for the solutions of the larger picture and huge clients are looking to tell an emotional and theatrical story that moves people. If you want bigger clients, you often have to tell bigger stories as well as ones that provide pleasure and emotion.
Look at your client work, your website and your promotional materials, are you telling compelling and emotional stories?
What step are you at now? What step do you want to move to?