Creating great designs and building an impressive body of work is not the whole story when it comes to running a design business. Marketing design services to reach the right clients requires strategic planning, focused messaging and creative thinking. We asked RGD Members to share their advice for achieving measurable results through strong marketing efforts.
Lionel Gadoury RGD, Principal and Director of Creative Services, Context Creative
Josh McInerney RGD, Creative Director and Partner at Modu Design
Carl Messenger-Lehmann RGD, President, Hyperweb
What is your strategy for identifying and reaching potential clients?
"Developing personas of our ideal customers has allowed us to laser focus our marketing efforts. We deliver the right messages to the right customers, and reduce the perceived spam factor of our marketing efforts." Carl Messenger-Lehmann RGD
"We usually work with clients that have a social impact element to their business, and we identify new clients by seeing who collaborates on cross-sector initiatives. In looking for this cultural fit with our team, we find that the work becomes more engaging and creatively fulfilling." Randal Boutilier RGD
"We started our company thinking we would be able to change the hearts and minds of all potential clients and help them see the the importance of design for improving their business's bottom line. But we learned pretty quickly that this can sometimes be a hard sell. A client will either get it or they won't. So when dealing with new clients, we look for the ones that have either worked with an agency in the past or have at least some understanding of the role of branding and design for business communications." Josh McInerney RGD
"I love speaking to groups of business owners about how to find their next best client, and these speaking engagements inevitably lead to one-on-one conversations that lead to referrals or new business." Laural Carr RGD
"I identify prospects based on professionalism, responsiveness, respect and how well they understand what I bring to the table." Sherri Gallowitz RGD
"We want to work with clients who are passionate and committed to achieving results through creativity and collaboration. We seek out opportunities that have long term potential. We want clients who respect and trust in us – our focus is to care as much about their success as our own. Satisfied clients keep coming back. It's a lot more fun and fulfilling to work with clients who want to work with you as much as you want to work with them." Lionel Gadoury RGD
What has been the most effective marketing tool for your business?
"Article writing has been a big part of our business marketing and has helped us connect with new clients. But posting articles to our website alone isn’t enough. We also post our articles on LinkedIn Pulse to gain exposure with a global audience. We have hit over 8,000 views on one LinkedIn post, causing our company profile page to gain over 500 new subscribers and some great new contacts. Doing guest blog posts with other companies is also another way to extend your reach to a new audience." Josh McInerney RGD
"We measure results based on clients' results -- when they succeed and grow, our relationship deepens and they become enthusiastic referral sources. We continually use our clients' successes as case studies and submit exceptional results to competitions, especially those that recognize effectiveness in marketing." Laural Carr RGD
"Word of mouth is really the most effective marketing tool for us. Building a trusting and collegial relationship is key to becoming an asset to any organization. All sectors have their own networks, and we’ve found that our name gets passed along to those in need of design services with a certain sensibility." Randal Boutilier RGD
"LinkedIn has been really good for me – by reaching out to first and second-degree connections I am sometimes able to turn a simple LinkedIn contact into a client." Sherri Gallowitz RGD
"Nothing works so well as a pure and passionate focus on satisfying client needs. We focus our efforts on understanding and recommending a mix of services tailored to particular clients. Our sales build upon the trust that develops by gaining insights as we go and meeting and exceeding expectations, project after project. The best client relationships tend to be long term, so we focus on clients with ongoing design and communications needs." Lionel Gadoury RGD
What is the best advice someone has given you for marketing your business / networking?
"Be authentic. Think about the types of projects you are passionate about, identify a specific market and make that your target. Stop selling to potential clients and start looking for ways to help them." Carl Messenger-Lehmann RGD
"For every client you treat with courtesy and respect, two more will follow." Clinton Clarke RGD
"Network with a purpose. Know what type of work you want to do and then find specific opportunities to meet the contacts that can help you. Otherwise you’ll spend too much time weeding your way through a room of people who can’t help your business." Josh McInerney RGD
"Know your audience, your niche and what you uniquely bring to the table. Be prepared to encapsulate your message into a 30 second pitch that sticks! This is exactly how we help our smart, savvy clients simplify their messages for faster results." Laural Carr RGD