Your Ideal Client: Attract
Our first lesson in this series talked about to identify your ideal client and gave a few different ways to help you to do that. Then,our second lesson was all about how to locate those clients once you know who they are.
Now that you know who your client is and where they are, you must make sure that you are attracting them. You can do all of the research into who and where your clients are, but if you are not doing the work that will draw them in, or are inconsistent in the message that you are communicating, it will not serve you well.
You must get them to see your work and to take note of it. Is this easier said, than done? Perhaps, but I think that when we are strategic about how we go about attracting our ideal clients, it is easier than you might think.
Let’s look at what goes into attracting our ideals clients.
Attract: How do we attract our ideal clients?
Do the work that you know will resonate with them
When you have taken the time to identify and really study your ideal client, you already know what they are drawn to as an overarching message, both visually and through words. You must create the work and the content that will speak to these clients. If you know that your target market are southern brides who love watercolor illustrations, then you want to showcase not only that you do that type of artwork, but also to show in your communication that you understand that world, what a southern bride is looking for, and what is important to her.
Stay true to your message and core values
Once you have identified the type of client with whom you want to be working, it is so important that you keep that client at the forefront of your mind. During your decision making process in every aspect of your business from your branding to the projects that you accept, they will become part of your brand filter, the criteria by which you evaluate the choices that you make for your business.
I believe that staying true to your values and your overall brand message does a great deal to set you and your work apart from the crowd. When you are creating and speaking in your own unique voice, it is going to resonate with those clients who share those same values, whether those values are design related or otherwise.
Present the work that you want to be doing
Another thing that I fully believe is that you get back what you put out there. By that I mean that you are likely going to get inquiries for things that are similar to the projects that you choose to showcase on your website, Instagram account or whatever you use for a portfolio.
When all the projects that you are sharing are wedding invitations showcasing loose, bright florals, you are probably going to be getting inquiries to create similar products. This can be a great thing, unless you do not like that kind of work and want to be doing more detailed and muted botanicals. If you want to be doing less weddings and more logo design, show the world that you do logo design. If you want to be doing invitations with lots of calligraphy, then showcase fully calligraphed designs.
As you probably know, my work is quite minimal, full of texture, type, and negative space. If there is a bride who wants an invitation suite with flourished calligraphy and intricate watercolor florals, she is not going to come to me because it is clear from everything that I produce, that that is not the type of work that I create. She would probably go to Victoria of Design House of Moira because that style is something that she showcases and does very well.
Only take on collaborations that are in line with your core values and ideal client
As a stationer, I can tell you that we often get asked to collaborate and contribute our paper goods for editorial shoots. This is a great thing - and more on that in a bit! However, you must make a commitment to yourself not to accept opportunities that do not align with your ideal client.
If your ideal client is someone who wants bold, punchy, graphic design with a little bit of an attitude, then accepting a collaboration that is light, airy, and pastel is not going to be helpful in reaching your ideal client. If you want to attract clients who want your strong graphic style, you must be showing your audience that you have a talent for the bold, graphic work that you want to do, because if you are not letting them know that is what you do, believe me no one will come to you for that type of work.
It can be difficult to decline these requests, but you must. If the project is not a good fit for you, it is not only diluting your brand image, but it is also taking that opportunity away from another artist who may be a perfect fit for that shoot.
Remember that everything that you share is telling your audience who you are
With every post that you share, with every blog or magazine that you are featured in, you are telling people “this is what I do”. Now that it is becoming slightly more challenging to even ensure that those who already follow us see our posts, it is even more important that you commit to being true to the brand that you want to be with everything that you do and post.
This may sound a little bit harsh or overwhelming, but I think that when we can see it as a tool, it can actually make things easier because we know exactly what we need to be sharing because we know who our ideal clients are and what they want to see. We are then free to create for them without worrying about pleasing everyone. Personally, I think that it is important to keep your brand identity strong and clear.
Align yourself with other vendors who have similar ideal clients
As we discussed in the previous lesson, it can be extremely helpful to partner with fellow creatives - specifically those who share your overall aesthetic and have a similar ideal client. When we are working with other vendors in any type of collaborative way, we are able to demonstrate the work that we do and are also building a relationship with them. Not every collaboration will turn into a lasting relationship, however it often does and is beneficial for both of you!
Reach out to planners
This may not be applicable to every niche of the industry, but for stationers, it is certainly helpful. Wedding planners can be your golden ticket to your ideal clients. I do not mean that to sound trite in any way. Think about it, if you can identify several wedding planners/stylists who share your aesthetic and values and are working with clients at the level you want to work with, then it only makes sense to begin to build a relationship with them. Remember, their clients need wedding invitations so your reaching out if you have done your research and know that you would be a good fit, is also helping them.
Try your best to start a friendly relationship by commenting and interacting with them on their Instagram account so that they know your name when the time comes to formally reach out. When that time comes, always remember to ask what you can do for them. Hopefully these relationships can turn into collaborative ones and better still, into working relationships where you are each helping and serving each other.
When you have a few planners who know your style and your strengths and are presenting your work to their clients, who are also your ideal clients, it is a win win!
Reach out to photographers
Again, this is written primarily with stationers in mind. While they may not be referring you quite a much as a planner might, it is invaluable to have relationships with a few good photographers whose style is a good fit for yours. Photographers often need paper to shoot and to showcase, whether that is for a styled shoot, a workshop that they are hosting, or just for their own personal work.
Reaching out, after warming up the relationship first, of course, and offering to provide stationery for anything that they might have coming up and to send them some of your work can be beneficial to both of you. Also, there is the added benefit that your work will be being shared by them and getting in front of the eyes of their, and your ideal clients.
Start with small projects
Many of the relationships that I have built with planners and photographers started out with a small project or shoot. Over time as I put in effort and always made it a priority to do my very best work, the projects grew. I did not start out doing all the paper goods for a photography workshop, but rather a smaller shoot. I did not start with a big wedding, but rather a personal project for the planner.
Remember that relationships can take time to build. Continue to do your best work and to be brave to put yourself out there. Be patient with yourself and know that your efforts will pay off.
Find your team and grow together
This is so important! While it is always good to have big goals and to go for those dreams, we must also be realistic with ourselves. Most of us (myself included!) will not be working with Jose Villa in our first year of business. It is good to work with artists who stretch us and to reach out to those we aspire to work with, however it is also so good to find your own team of creatives who are at our same level and create with them.
As you all collaborate and hone your individual crafts, you will grow together. You will also learn how each other works, which makes it both easier and more enjoyable to work together.
A few more things
Do the work
I cannot stress enough the importance of doing the work. No one said that running a business was easy - it is not. It takes a lot of work, effort, and intentional and strategic planning to make it all work. It can be easy to get caught up in all of the planning and strategizing - and those things are important - but it will mean nothing if you are not doing the work to back it all up.
If you are towards the beginning of your career, sometimes can sometimes seem as if you will never get where you want to be or to compare yourself to where others are or appear to be. Be encouraged that it does take time, but when you persevere and are intentional with your work and how you are running your business, it will happen.
Keep your head down, focus on your craft, create good work, and I promise that you will begin to attract your ideal clients because the work that you will be doing and the words that you use will be speaking directly to them. This may seem counter intuitive, but trust me.
I love the quote by Steve Martin “Be so good that they can’t ignore you”. Wow. That is always such an inspiration to me. Not at all meaning that I am so good that people cannot ignore me, but rather keeping it as inspiration to always do your best work so that it will naturally attract others and that they will not be able to look away.
What if I have more than one style that I love?
I love this question! I think that it is completely possible to have more than one style and to still maintain a very cohesive overall brand.
One person who I think embodies this is Victoria Rothwell of Design House of Moira. If you take a look at Victoria’s portfolio, you will see a vast array of styles: from formal, flourished calligraphy to sleek modern script, from intricate watercolor florals in bold palettes, to simple line botanicals. She manages to create in so many different styles. If you look at her work as a whole, however, you will see her style carried throughout all of the different projects that she does. They are very diverse, yet her distinguishing style, the techniques that she employs, and the way she finishes and assembles her beautiful suites keeps her portfolio unified and consistent.
If you are all over the place style-wise because you are still figuring out who you are and what your style is, that is fine! My advice would be to focus on sharing in a consistent way if you can, or to not share everything that you are creating as you are exploring your style.
If you have a clear picture of what you love and have two very different styles, try to find the similarities and something that can tie them together. Maybe that means that you style all of your sets in a similar way even though some are bold and some are light and airy. Perhaps you try to showcase the two very distinct styles in segments - say nine squares of your bolder style and then nine of your softer style. You could even talk in your captions about how you have two sides to yourself and that you love to explore both.
Ultimately, you must do what feels right to you and, most importantly, what will attract your ideal clients!
To wrap this lesson up, we have learned:
How do we attract our ideal clients?
Remember that everything that we choose to share is communicating our brand and to keep our ideal client in mind with everything that we post. Do the work that you know will resonate with that client.
The importance of working with others who have similar ideal clients
When we build relationships with other vendors who share our ideal clients, we can both help each other. There is so much good that comes out of collaboration and one of those things is getting your work on front of more of your ideal clients.
Remember that nothing can replace simply doing the work
Whether you work locally or not, connecting with other creatives is important. Fellow creatives can be a wonderful way to help locate your ideal clients and can you can also become collaborators and supporters of each other.
When you know what speaks to your ideal client, you are committed to creating and showcasing that work, and you have other vendors helping to share your work, your ideal clients will begin to see and take note of you - which will hopefully result in them working with you!
Have questions? Feel free to reach out!
Enjoying this series?
I would love to hear from you to know what you think and how it has been helpful!