You know that you must promote yourself to keep your design business thriving. There are ample tools and methods for doing this. No doubt you are currently pursuing several activities, and have tried many others in the past. As the new year begins, why not ask yourself a series of provocative questions that can prompt a fresh look at your firm and how you will promote it?
1. What’s so special about my firm?
What are the unique characteristics, capabilities, and creative perspectives that you bring to your work? Really. What is it that you and only you can bring to design? Why are you here, time-sharing molecules with the rest of us—on the planet and in this particular profession? In vintage advertising terminology, this would be your U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition). Take a hard look, and then ask yourself: Is what is unique about me/my firm apparent in my branding and promotion?
2. Am I taking my firm seriously as a brand?
Do you actually think of yourself in terms of being a brand? You are one in a very real sense. So if you were to hire a designer to do a brand assessment on you, what would they see? Are you walking your talk? Is it clear what you do and who you do it for and why you do it? Is your visual and verbal identity in line with your goals, objectives and unique characteristics? Do you need a slight refresh or a major overhaul?
3. Am I working with the right clients?
Is it time for a new direction or are you satisfied with your clients? If you are unhappy: why? Is it the industry you serve or the actual people you work for? If you need new blood, it’s important to understand clearly what should/could be different. If you’ve got the right clients, ask yourself: How can we do more and better work together? Then take a look at what in your promotional efforts towards your target audience(s) needs to be altered or retained.
4. When was the last time I took a serious look at my competitors?
If you were undertaking a branding or promotional effort for a client, one of the first things you’d do is review their competitive landscape. Have you taken a look at your own competitors lately? Have you even done the exercise of determining who they are currently? Your firm may have evolved, or maybe it was other firms that have moved into your territory, or maybe your key competitor is someone new to the business. What are they doing and saying about their work in their promos? How could you do it more effectively?
5. What kind of new paths should I be exploring?
With the only constant in design being change, where should you be headed in the future? Maybe the answer springs from a cold hard look at competitors. Maybe it comes from that tiny voice of inspiration inside you. Maybe changes in your firm are in response to boredom or restlessness. Even if you want to continue with the same clients, collaborators, and type of work, ask yourself: What new skills, connections, and/or technologies are going to be good to add? Then ask: How should I discuss these in my self-promotional efforts?