You’re creative. You have “terrific vision.” In many cases, you also have zero clients. How can you rectify this situation? Fortunately, the steps, while rigorous, are not overly complex or difficult to understand. Aside from the standard “must haves,” such as great education, sensational portfolios of your work, and any applicable licenses, there are certain things you must do to attract clients. Your 4.0 GPA from thus-and-such university means nothing, largely, because each of your competitors has the same or equivalent qualifications. Here are four places to start:
Develop a Gripping and Powerful Positioning Statement.
Prospective clients are tired of worn-out boilerplate. You’ve probably read some positioning statements like:
•You’ll enjoy working with us.
•We’ll always be on-time and under-budget.
•We think strategically.
If you use these or similar statements, your prospects will all think, “Yeah, yeah, you and 10 dozen others.” Instead, why not try something like, “We’ll help you realize your vision and attract members of your target demographics to be your new customers”? Or, how about, “It’s your business, so it’s your vision. We’ll help you ‘get there'”? Be powerful. Be confident.
Speaking of Confidence …
If you project confidence in yourself, then your prospects will have confidence in you. That doesn’t mean you should be arrogant or overconfident, but you shouldn’t hem and haw when it comes to what you are going to do to please your new customers. You want your customers to think you’re better than everyone else. If you don’t project that feeling, how can they sense it when they talk to you?
You Have to Network.
Everyone has heard of “that person” who wasn’t nearly as good as the competition yet still scored all the endorsements and raked in all the profits from new customers. Often, the “rest of the world” is left wondering, “How on Earth did he or she do that?” That person may not have been as good as others, but that person did the proper legwork and “got to know people.” He or she rubbed shoulders with the right people. He or she stroked the right egos. Most of all, he or she developed long-term relationships with both powerful people who could influence careers and super-successful people from whom he or she could learn. What’s the old saying? “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Do your networking homework. It will only make things better and easier for you.
You Have to Work at It.
There are tens of thousands of graphic designers out there. If all of them except you are pounding the pavement, putting in the networking hours, and generally making themselves known in the industry, guess who customers are not going to go and see? Osmosis may work with that paramecium you saw under the microscope in biology class, but it does not work in any field where you have to gain clients. If you do the proper preparation and put in the time, the customers will follow. It’s also a never-ending chore. Customers come and go. You may attract 1,000 new faces this month, but only 125 of them might hire you. You have 875 “holes in your customer inventory” to fill, and they’re not going to fill themselves.
Finding new clients is like improving your design skills. You have to keep at it to be successful. Good luck!
Related Resource: Top 10 Online Graphic Design Degree Programs