Creative professionals often use the terms direction and marketing message interchangeably. It may also be called target your market but all three terms mean finding new clients and new revenues. In today’s economy it has become a normal business practice to target more than one market for your services. In order to identify a marketing message for your work, first answer this question: Do you want to do more of the same work but for better clients with bigger budgets? Or, do you want to do different types of creative projects and take on an entirely new direction? This will help guide your next step and the types of clients you target. Once you have answered this most basic question, then you go to the next step. Most would ask the question, “What do I do?” and that is the wrong question when marketing your services. You must always market for what you want to do more of, not what you do every day. If you ask the question, “What do I do?” the answer is “photography” or “illustration” and these are too broad a message to target a client base (and create marketing materials). To get a more focused marketing message, you must ask yourself the question, “What do I want to do more of?” When you answer this more specific question, it will guide you to your new clients and your marketing message. There are four ways to answer this question and target a marketing message for your creative services.
By a Style of Work: Style is based on how you perceive the world and the way you approach creative problems. Style is based on the way you solve issues for the clients with your own brand of individual creativity. Marketing a style is very personal; it is how you see the world. It is not specific to any subject but crosses over many subjects and different industries. Also, the work tends to be used by high-end clients (bigger budgets) and clients in cutting edge industries such as editorial or entertainment and advertising clients. It takes either a very secure or risk-tolerant client to hire for a personal style marketing message instead of taking the safe, conservative route.
By a Specific Industry: This is based on who the client is and it is one of the most common types of marketing message because it is so easy to identify potential clients. The beauty of this marketing message is that it builds on itself. For example, once you have done work for a financial services client, you can use your experience and expertise in the industry to market to other financial services companies. Another nice benefit is that the usage of your work is very diverse. Every industry has a great variety needs for creative services.
By the Use of the Work: This marketing message is based on what the creative is used for or the usage. There are many categories of usage for you to choose from and to target. For example: corporate communications, web sites, packaging, advertising, editorial, paper products and books to name a few uses. These are good examples of targeting your marketing message because it helps you clearly identify the potential clients. It also is extremely helpful when buying your marketing lists. With this marketing message you are not locked into any particular industry. For example, industries that use packaging photography/design/illustration all include such diverse products as food, beverage, pharmaceutical and beauty products.
By the Subject: You can target your marketing message based on the subject of your image. This is particular to photographers and a very popular marketing message because your potential client base is readily identified. Examples include: automotive, people, food, architecture, products, locations and landscapes. By targeting the subject, you will also find great diversity in the use of your work and your clients will range from advertising to editorial and everything in between. The one thing in common is the subject of the photography.
It is extremely important when developing your marketing messages that you set up a specific target with a broad client base to get enough work. If you target a specific marketing message too narrowly, you won’t find enough work and you won’t be maximizing the potential of this profit center approach. For example, when you target with a specific style (technique or approach) your base should have a broad range of industries represented. When you target a market by type of industry, you’ll find that the broad base will be represented by the various uses of your creative services. You don’t want to be too specialized. For example, if you just focused on web sites for entertainment industry clients, you are too narrowly focused. You would need to broaden that to working on all the different services an entertainment firm has for you.