Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet; no magic potion that will bring you immediate success. Building your business in a way that allows you to capitalize on all of your hard work takes... hard work! We've taken the time to lay out a few key components that if done correctly, can help you get more creative inquiries, stand out among your peers, and ultimately gain more exposure.
Crafting your visual signature, building a strong brand and finding your tone with potential clients will launch you steps ahead of your competition. Being in this business for over 20 years, we've down our research and we know what today's buyers are looking for: an artist with a clearly defined visual approach. What we also know is that defining this visual signature is no easy task.
Many times, artists just need an extra push from someone on the outside to help them extract and understand what is important to them when it comes to their craft.As you grow as an artist, what you are attracted to and connected with changes- makes sense but, your work should be evolving along with it.
Developing your vision isn't something that only applies to new or emerging artists, it's a continued practice to stay relevant to today's market. Fine-tune your visual voice or signature once a year to ensure that while you are evolving, your vision and brand is evolving as well.
A good exercise to ensure that you are staying current with your visual voice is to take a step back and analyze what it is that is influencing you and inspiring you right now. Does it line up with what you've been creating?
Check out Finding Your Vision, a pocket guide authored by Director of Consulting, Jennifer Kilberg. In this guide, Jennifer digs deep and dishes out the same direction and words of advice she gives to her clients as they start to being visually communicating who they are, what they can do and what they want to be hired for.
Marketing isn't just about sending emails or going to an in-person portfolio review here and there. Consistency is key and having a strong physical and emotional brand,an updated website, and a database that has a healthy combination of low lying fruit, as well as your top-tier dream clients, is what will get you noticed.
We checked in with our team of in-house creative consultants to get their pulse on a few of the most important channels of marketing to ensure you have a well-rounded campaign:
Email Promotion. We constantly get the question "Is email marketing still a viable means of marketing?" and the answer is ABSOLUTELY! Email is the most cost-effective,trackable option while also allowing you to assess and classify your leads.
Direct Mail. Creatives are tactile people; they want to feel the luxe paper and smell the fresh ink. The physicality of direct mail allows you to play with so many different options to help tell your story and articulate your vision to potential clients. Our consultants suggest sending direct mail to those who have shown interest in your email and your dream clients.
Existing Clients. Just because you're focused on growing your business doesn't mean you can neglect the relationships you've worked hard to create. Your existing clients are your go-to's; they know who you are and what you can do. Connect with them on a quarterly basis to stay on their radar and update them on what you've been up to.
Special Promos. This is a great way to show creatives your playful side. Engage with your audience and create something that will make you stand out. Why are personal projects important? Because they help to create a conversation with the creative while having fun, being creative, and showing your passion.
Social Media. Your social platforms should be curated just like your website. It's important that your content is consistent and speaks to the brand that you're selling. Creatives are constantly scouring social media sites to find new talent so don't let this channel fall to the wayside. This is a great way to show a more casual,personal side to you and your brand.
Portfolio Websites. There are many companies popping up with portfolio websites. These sites allow you to search by specialty and location making them a no-brainer for creatives sourcing talent. Some examples would be Found (Found is owned by the same parent company as AXS, Flipside Prodigy Inc.), Le Book, and At Edge.
Portfolio Reviews. Is there anything tougher than getting an in-person meeting with a busy creative? Cue the portfolio review. These can be considered a paid meeting however, their sole purpose is to connect you with reps, ad agencies, magazines, or direct clients you want to be working with.
Kudos Emails. Who doesn't love a compliment? A kudos email is just that; an email to a creative complimenting them on a project they are currently working on or have worked on in the past.This unsolicited compliment gives you the opportunity to build a relationship that will ultimately (hopefully) lead to a job in the future.
SEO. Search Engine Optimization is critical for clients with a focus on corporate or direct business-to-business work. Clients who focus more on advertising and editorial will find that SEO plays a bigger role but should not be the sole choice for a marketing channel.Interested in going further? Check out SEO consultant, Blake Discher.
To make social media useful for your business, you should be consistently contributing to your industry's conversation by creating content that you feel fills a need; content you aren't seeing that you feel needs to be shared. In the same vein, making sure that you are interacting with others in your social community will help to build your following which will lead to more exposure in the right places.
So, how can you keep on top of all of the posting you should be doing? Try creating a content calendar. Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- What are my specific goals and what will I be doing to achieve them?
- How many posts do I want to share a day?
- What type of content will attract my target audience?
- What channels do I want to post on?
Once you have that figured out, next you need to create content that is relevant,extremely tailored and will capture your audience's attention. Below are a few suggestions of content you can post as well as ways to make your social platforms stand out among the rest:
Blog Posts. Writing and publishing blog posts will help lead a steady stream of visitors to your website especially if you are utilizing correct SEO (see above). If your content is relevant, interesting and relatable, readers will share your post giving it more reach ultimately leading to more ROI and more exposure.
Video Content. If you have relevant content that is informative, interesting, and fun that you want to share - make it into a video! The shorter the video the better as shorter videos have more impact. Keep your messaging strong and ensure that it speaks to the audience you are trying to reach.
Photos. Duh, right? Seriously, if the content across all your social platforms is relevant and consistent, it will help you build loyalty, gain attention, and increase engagement. If you want to be noticed, make sure your posts include copy AND photos; it will create a better impression on your audience.
Hashtags. Hashtags are like breadcrumbs. If you want to be known as being a food photographer in Dallas, you have to hashtag your image the correct way. Use hashtags for your business name, industry,location, specialty, etc. Be strategic when it comes to creating hashtags,they're the road creatives take back to your social feed.
Your bio. Yes, it's important! Think of it as your elevator pitch, just a super short one. Most social platforms (i.e. Instagram) don't give you much space to explain who you are and what you do. Use this as a creative challenge; this isn't supposed to be traditional writing, in full sentences. Try something fun, like a Haiku poem format to paint the picture of who you are.
Engagement. Probably one of the most forgotten rules when it comes to social media. You have to be an active part of the community.That means interacting with your followers, liking and commenting on their photos that inspire you, actively following new users to help build your community and expand your reach.
Networking is an important part of your marketing strategy because it's one of the only business concepts that allows you to make in-person connections, something the other tactics discussed in this blog post cannot do.
Let's take a look at the ins and outs of networking, how to go about it the right way and how you can bring your networking game to the next level:
Idea Generation. Networking is a wonderful way to spark your creative thinking while connecting with people through personal conversation. Chatting with people who are in the same industry as you and even people who are not is a breeding ground for those sought after "eureka moments"
Follow-Up Emails. You just spend 2 hours talking to a creative you would die to work with and you don't want them to forget you.So, what do you do? Beyond giving your business card, sending a follow-up email can help you solidify the relationship.
Finding A Job. Networking allows you to always be "out there". Even if you aren't looking for a job at the moment,you are creating connections with potential clients that might need your expertise in the future. The job search is eternal so knowing how to network effectively can help you in the future.
Investing Long Term. A common complaint regarding networking?There's no tangible benefit to it. You go at it intensely for so long, get a few email addresses_but then what? Unfortunately, there's no instant results when it comes to networking. Like all good things, it takes time. Make the connection and when opportunity rises, you're in a better place than the person who never learned how to network effectively.
Marketing Yourself. To be good at networking, you have to be prepared to market yourself and your career to other people at the drop of a hat. There's a balance that must be attained: allowing conversation to flow but not failing to ensure you're marketing yourself and your skills correctly. Beware, there is a chance you could sound self-serving or arrogant so make sure you practice striking that delicate balance.
Marketing is not a sprint; it's a marathon. It takes time, consistency and a well-rounded, multi-channel strategy to get your business the results you are looking for. We hope you take some of the ideas and insights in this blog post to use for your business!