I do a lot of research on how to market my business. I know a guy who has a paver business. He told me something I never let go of. He said the truth of being in business is that we are all in the service industry, we just happen to be selling pavers. I would take this a step further that you keep the mindset of not just being a designer, but a business owner. You have to constantly be aware of the larger concept of owning a business.
There are the four P’s of marketing. I know this sounds boring, but you have to remember you are a business owner first who just happens to be blessed enough to do what you love. You are the first of the four P’s : Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. You are selling you. This will lead to your branding. What is your brand? What are you selling that about you that is any better than what the other 10 “designers” are selling. I will talk about this a little more, but you want to really take a moment here if haven’t already built one and create a mission statement for yourself. I want you to start this marketing journey and get a spiral notebook, this is going to be your “Marketing Dojo” book. You will make notes and plans and keep them all in one place. I have several of these. I have my daily notebook on my desk for phone calls and lists. I can always flip through and review what I may have missed at the end of a busy day. I have my website notebook, I build all of my own sites, yet another creative outlet. I have my book idea notebook, etc. My system for keeping the right thoughts in the right place. I realize I could do all of the in Evernote, but at some point I had to put the technology down and I feel when writing down my ideas it is more visceral for me to do it with the physical motion of hand writing.
You should already have one of these but I do recommend rewriting it once a year to get a grasp of where you want to go and who you want to be. You can start this by considering others you admire and what qualities they hold. Then think of who you are and what you think as being your ideal self. How do you treat people and what legacy do you want to leave? In business these need to apply as well as your personal life. In business, who so you admire and why? What qualities do they own that you would like to emulate? I don’t mean for you to think of what they have accomplished in a physical manner, like how big the firm is or what car do they drive. You need to think of the traits they exhibit and the principles they live by consistently to have gotten them what they do have. Don’t focus on the stuff, focus on the journey. The stuff will come if you are coming from the right place.
Then consider how you want your clients to remember you and talk about you after their project is done. The design will be wonderful, that goes without saying. Any designer can do that, we are trained for it. What other qualities do you have or service can you offer to your clients to make them thrilled to tell their friends about you and refer you to others? When you are thinking of this consider what your abilities are in and around your previous experience, what your other skills are. Clarify your aptitudes and turn them into your purpose. Then step away for a day, come back and refine your message. Print this out and hang it above your desk. Your mission statement is reminder of what you are really after and what goals need to be accomplished to get to that place of leaving an amazing legacy.