Being a creative is great; getting to earn money by using a craft you enjoy has to be one of the best ways to make a living. However, it can also come with its own set of challenges; managing clients’ expectations, people wanting work done free and having to constantly be on the lookout for new potential customers. The latter is particularly important given that, according to Upwork’s Freelancing in America study, the majority of freelancers prefer to have several projects on the go – as is shown in the image below.
Whether you’re targeting B2B or B2C leads, in order to make a success of your creative business you need to master the art of marketing and learn how to deliver your message to the right audience. In this article we’ll offer advice on how to do this, as well as how to leverage an important tool used by enterprises in all industries: the contact database.
Think Like a Marketer
The first step to winning new clients is to understand that you need to organise your creative skills as a business. While it’s great that you’re pursuing a career in a field that you love and are talented in, the bottom line is that without a proper marketing strategy your venture isn’t likely to work long-term. In order to give yourself the best possible chance at finding new customers and turning over a regular income, you need to put your business hat on.
There are a number of aspects to this, so let’s take a more in-depth look at the most important points for you to keep in mind.
Know Your Audience
Any marketer will tell you that the most important factor in generating leads is having a thorough knowledge of exactly the type of people or businesses that are likely to buy from you. Saying “my product is for everybody” just isn’t realistic; you may as well say it’s for nobody – no product or service can be all things to all people, so it’s essential that your marketing efforts are focused on a specific audience.
Take a look at your previous clients to see if there are any traits they share. For example, is it mainly SMEs using your services/products, or larger enterprises? Are they all in one particular industry? Which member of staff do you usually deal with – the marketing manager? The CEO? By knowing the answers to questions like these you’ll have a much better idea of how to engage them when it comes to writing emails, creating website content, or designing social media posts, and you’re likely to see better conversion rates as a result.
Like all businesses, your creative venture needs to have a distinguishable face that gives a clear idea of what you do and that sets you apart from the competition. This is something that creatives often don’t prioritise; if you’re a sole trader it’s easy to forget that having an identity is important, but without clear branding your potential customers may become confused. They want to hire a professional to get the job done, and mismatched or unclear branding just isn’t going to give the right impression.
When it comes to creating a brand identity, the best place to start is always thinking about your customer. What are their needs, and how are you catering to them? What is the USP that you can offer over the other companies in your niche? Once you’ve got a thorough understanding of who you’re targeting, you’ll be able to create a clear identity that really speaks to them.
Find Your Customers
When it’s time to start hunting for those potentially valuable new leads, things can quickly get overwhelming. With so many forms of advertising in today’s digital sphere, it can be hard to know where to start. Ad campaigns can easily become expensive and can be complex for those of us who aren’t so tech-savvy. While social media can prove to be an effective tool, it takes time to build a substantial following, and there’s no guarantee that your posts will get seen by the right people.
This is where email marketing comes in; despite the fact it’s one of the more ‘traditional’ forms of marketing, it remains one of the best in terms of ROI. Provided you have the correct contact details, you can ensure that your messages get straight through to the people you want to target, and because the majority of businesspeople prefer to use email to communicate nowadays – as is shown in the graph from HubSpot below – you have a much better chance of engaging them.
Use a Contact List
In order to get started with an effective email marketing campaign, you first need to build your contact list. You probably already have a list of people who have hired you in the past, you just need to collate all of this information and put it into a spreadsheet. If you find that your list isn’t full enough to warrant a campaign, or you simply want to add more fresh leads (and who doesn’t?!) then an effective tool often used by marketers is a B2B business database.
By purchasing data you’ll have instant contacts ready to go, and with direct contact details so that you can always get through to the people who have the power to hire you for a project.
Qualify Leads on a Bigger Scale
A great advantage to using a database is the ability to quickly and easily qualify your potential clients. Qualification is important as it prevents you from wasting time and money on targeting leads that are unlikely to ever hire you, and instead focus on those that will. You’re probably already doing some lead qualifying, even if you haven’t realised it. You spend some time when deciding with whom you work, how much to charge and who to dismiss. This is already a process of qualification.
By using a reputable database provider, you’ll have access to a number of filter options, based on things like revenue, employee numbers (useful for gauging how large a business is), industry and location. Adding contacts to your list based on these factors will leave you with a highly-targeted set of leads who will be easier to convert.
Once you’ve got your email list ready to go, it’s time to put it into action and create a strong email campaign. Firing off any old email that you’ve put together haphazardly isn’t going to cut it – it’ll just get ignored and you may even run the risk of being reported as a spammer. Instead, take some time to craft your content carefully so it can be read by a sales prospect, and remember to think about the following…
Make It Valuable
Instead of going in with an aggressive sales pitch, focus on providing relevant, high-quality content in your emails that your leads will appreciate. An email newsletter is a great way to do this; not only will it help you build a sense of familiarity and keep you top of mind, if done effectively it will also position you as something of an expert in your field. Whether you’re a writer, photographer, graphic designer, or something else entirely, the emails that you send are a reflection of you as a professional, so make sure you take the time to craft decent content.
Building a sense of trust between yourself and your potential clients is essential; particularly if you’re looking to take on long-term contracts. One of the best ways to do this is to simply be yourself; keep your emails professional but let your personality shine through – people are much more likely to want to hire someone who they feel they know. Social proof can also be very helpful here; share testimonials from previous clients to show your leads exactly why your creative service is the best around.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
As is shown in the infographic below from Lead Simple, few business deals are done on the first round of communication. This means that following up is a very important practice to get into the habit of doing. Focus on building a genuine relationship with your leads; help them relate to you by giving them more information about yourself, and be friendly and authentic. Even when you do get a sale, don’t let that client fall from your radar once the project is completed… add them to your email newsletter list and check in with them from time to time.
While marketing can be a little daunting for those who are in the creative industries, it is essential to master it in order to keep new projects coming in. Treat your craft like a business, and view yourself as a marketer for your venture, but don’t be afraid to test new ideas and think outside of the box – it’s what you do best, after all!
If you’d like to learn more about using a B2B database to find new clients, visit www.GlobalDatabase.com