QUESTION on How to Market a Graphic Design Business
I have started a graphic design business in the Atlanta, Georgia area and I am struggling to find customers for my business. I think I offer a low rate, but still hardly any takers. Help!
– Sheryl (Georgia)
ANSWER by Isabel Isidro
Congratulations on starting your graphic design business. Here are some ideas you can try to market your new business:
1. First identify your services.
Determine what area of graphic design you love most, what you are good at and has the best demand for your market. Graphic design is a huge field, and narrowing your services to your field of specialization can help focus your services, build your brand and more accurately identify your target market. You can choose to focus on any of the following:
- book designs particularly book cover
- logo designs
- website designs
- banner design and creations
- online advertising banners and graphics
- business cards
- brochures and other marketing materials
Once you have narrowed the services you’d like to offer, make a list of potential clients for those types of services. Then find out how you can reach them.
For example, if you wish to focus on logo design, you can tap the small business market on the lookout to creating an identity for their business. Or if you wish to do book cover designs, then you can work with organizations that regularly publishes books or self-published authors who want a more professional look for their book covers.
2. Partner with big design companies.
There are instances when your competitor can be your best friend. Some of the big graphic design or advertising companies may be overburdened with work that they look for outside help to fill in the demand. You can work as a sub-contractor for them and handle the excess projects that they have.
3. Network, network and network.
Networking is important in raising awareness about your business, especially if your target audience are composed of business owners. Attend chamber of commerce meetings. Join business organizations in your area. Let them know what you do. Getting out there will give you the opportunity to meet potential clients who need your services, or a mentor who can recommend you to someone who can give you business.
4. Partner with web programmers/developers.
There are many web programmers who lack design skills and need the help of graphic designers to offer a more comprehensive web design services. You can work with the programmers in order to offer customers more professional looking websites where you do the interface design while the web programmer works on the backend. I know of several graphics designer who have branched out successfully to web design and adopted this strategy of partnering with web developers.
5. Make sure you got a website.
People use the Web to find anything and everything these days. Thus, it is imperative for business owners to have a web presence. Use the web as your marketing tool. You can use it to showcase the works you’ve done, highlight previous clients you’ve worked with, describe the services you offer. Think of the Web as your online brochure that is available 24/7 to market your business can capture any potential leads for your graphic design business.
6. Use classified ads.
Classified ads used to be expensive and a one-time deal. However, the hugely popular Craigslist website taken classified advertising to the next level and made reaching the local market easier and more affordable than ever. Branch out to other online classified ads sites as well such as eBay’s Kijiji.com or Craigslist.
7. Tap the local market.
Make sure that your website is listed in local online directories. More people are getting online to look for services in their local community. Ask yourself: if a business owner wants a logo designed for them, where will they go to look for such services?
8. Use direct mail.
If you have a clear idea of who your target audience is, one effective way of reaching them is through direct mail. Contact small businesses in your area and introduce them to your services. Create eye popping postcards or other easy mailers that will allow you to contact potential customers.
9. Contact for-profits and non-profit organizations that do a lot of book, newsletter or other publishing.
While many may have in-house graphic or creative staffs, they may want to outsource some projects and being in their radar screen will allow you to capture those jobs that they cannot handle.
10. Use Web 2.0 sites.
Create a great looking profile in Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and connect with art or graphic enthusiasts. Showcase your skills by posting your latest creations. Use photo sharing sites such as Flickr to share photos of your graphic creations. Even social bookmarking sites such as Digg.com allow users to share images. Consider making videos of your creations as well.
Also check out marketplaces such as CrowdDesign.com and Crowdspring.com, which is the biggest marketplace on logo and graphic design today.
Recommended Books on the How to Market a Graphic Design Business
- Start & Run a Graphic Design Business
- The Designer’s Guide To Marketing And Pricing: How To Win Clients And What To Charge Them
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Illustrator or Graphic Designer
- Inside the Business of Graphic Design: 60 Leaders Share Their Secrets of Success
Article originally published January 2008. Updated on January 21, 2012