Finding clients has been an ongoing discussion for as long as businesses have existed. Everyone claims to have the best tips and tricks, or the most valuable strategies, but what really works? That depends on your business, quite honestly. And in the business of graphic design, it’s about making sure that your reputation is one of quality, authority, and authenticity so that clients want to work with your firm.
Of course, there’s more to it than that. Finding new clients can actually become a full-time job of its own if you let it. However, if you get a handle on it now, you’ll be able to get things set up so that you’ve got a steady stream of clients waiting for your services. There are plenty of tactics and strategies out there for mid-level businesses like yours and now that your budget is a little bigger, you may be able to do more than you have in the past.
How much you spend here ultimately depends on your needs, but you might be surprised at just how much you can get for your money when you choose the right tactics to generate those leads and guarantee that more of them turn into clients than not. Here are five tactics that should be on your list.
Cost: Free, unless you spend money on networking events, etc.
There is something to be said about having a strong professional network. You should collaborate and form partnerships with as many people in the design industry (and related fields) as possible. Not only will this help you find more clients, but it will improve your reputation so that more clients find you, which is the ultimate goal for any business.
Graphic designers will want to form connections with web designers, marketers, ad agencies, photographers, print companies, and other similar types of businesses and individuals. You should also ensure that you’re networking on social media (more on that below) and getting engaged online so that your virtual presence is just as strong as your physical design firm.
Cost: Free, unless you offer incentives, discounts, etc.
Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most powerful tools in the design world. Sure, people can look up your design firm, check out your portfolio, and get a good idea of what you offer. However, that’s a lot more work than just getting your name from a friend or colleague who has worked with you in the past. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything to ask for these recommendations.
You could even consider implementing a referral program. This helps keep your existing client base active and ensures that you get a stream of new clients at the same time. Think about what kind of incentives you could offer, even if it’s just as simple as a free design consultation or design proof when someone mentions they heard about you via word-of-mouth. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing; it just has to be valuable to your leads and clients.
Social media isn’t a “set it and forget it” platform. This is the place where you should be the most engaged online. Thanks to platforms like Instagram, designers and design firms can show off their work in real-time and even showcase some of their past work. It’s also a good place to share industry news, resources, and other information. You can connect with people and use various social media platforms to build your reputation as an authority within your industry.
If you want to maximize your social media efforts, hire a social media specialist to optimize your profiles and consult on how you can best use each profile to engage moving forward. You don’t necessarily need to keep them on the payroll for the long term, but it can benefit you to hire someone to help you get started on the right foot with your social media efforts.
Cost: $200-$5,000, varies depending on services included
Another reason to hire an SEO specialist would be to help you perform an SEO audit on your website and your entire online existence. An audit will go through every single page of your website, every instance of your graphic design firm online, and any other content that is attached to your business. This will ensure that all of your content is fresh, relevant, accurate, and properly optimized for SEO. It’s not just optimizing the content, though. An audit can also identify technical issues like missing links or a poorly designed sitemap.
Once the audit is complete, if you follow all of the recommended steps, you will find that your visibility increases, as does your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). You can find tips on how to perform an SEO audit yourself, but it’s usually something best left to the professionals.
Cost: $250-$5,000, depending on what you outsource
The Internet has done a lot of things to improve the world around us. Outsourcing is one of those things, and it’s one that you need to embrace. Yes, even as a midsize business on its way up in the world, there are plenty of ways your graphic design firm can benefit from outsourcing. Namely, you can get a lot more done for a lot less money.
For example, when you partner with Smith.ai, you’ll get a dedicated team of virtual receptionists that can handle a little bit of everything, starting with offering a 24/7 answering service so that you never miss another opportunity or potential client. Plus, we’ll even assist with lead screening and intake, appointment scheduling, and live website chat so that you can focus on your current projects, and offer support for outreach campaigns to help you draw in new projects and clients.