As a business, graphic design has a low barrier to entry. With a standard PC and some basic graphic design software, anyone is good to go. Perhaps this is the reason the contest for top clients and well-paying projects is so intense. It can be especially difficult if you’ve just started a graphic design business.
For a small company, you don’t have the luxury of a huge team or vast financial resources that could be channeled to a sales and marketing campaign. Yet, your business success will depend on your ability to create a continuous pipeline of leads. Lead management tools such as Salesforce.com are essential in this regard.
Nevertheless, technology must be underpinned by the right lead generation strategies. Here’s a look at four strategies.
1. Develop a Compelling Portfolio
As a creative, your portfolio is your resume. Unlike many other types of businesses, prospects will want to see your portfolio before anything else. It’s proof of your skills and experience. Potential clients will be most taken in by a portfolio that demonstrates the right mix of styles and elements.
By putting up your best work, the portfolio could be the magnet that draws a steady stream of leads your way. At the minimum, you should upload and prominently link to the portfolio on your business website. But you should go further and make it available on online galleries as well. Pin a link to your portfolio on social media networks that allow it too, such as Twitter and Facebook.
2. Design and Print Business Cards
Websites, email addresses and social media profiles have created the impression that business cards are outdated. This is a flawed view, as it assumes people only interact with businesses online. On the contrary, the average person is likely to meet more people offline than they do online.
In any case, one of the reasons for a business card was to make sure a prospect had your name and contact information, including website and email address. So business cards are not mutually exclusive with online networking. But a business card takes on more significance for a graphic design business. It’s an opportunity to showcase your skill. Design your own unique cards to leave a lasting impression and generate valuable leads.
3. Attend Graphic Design Conferences, Seminars and Exhibitions
Many graphic design businesses are run from the founder’s home. It’s easy for one to get so caught up in their work that they become disconnected from the world out there. In fact, this can happen to graphic designers who don’t work from home. It’s a desk job, after all. Don’t let the sizable volume of business you enjoy today prevent you from thinking about future leads. Don’t let a lucrative future project that falls within your expertise be negotiated in your absence.
Get out of your comfort zone and seek out forums where you could put your name out there, learn from other graphic designers, and form new connections. Conferences, seminars, and exhibitions give you insights on the latest trends, provide impetus to reinvent yourself, and provide a platform to cultivate leads.
4. Contact Prospects Through Direct Mail
Likes, shares, retweets, and clicks. That’s the language that today’s salespersons and marketers best understand. But as is the case with business cards, online lead generation doesn’t preclude the need to rope in prospects via offline techniques. An all-round plan that incorporates both traditional and digital tactics is the way to go.
With the overwhelming majority of graphic design businesses depending on online lead generation, offline methods like direct mail could give you the edge. The average business executive is already inundated with numerous emailed pitches from entrepreneurs and freelancers. Send your work samples through direct mail and you have a better shot at standing out and catching their attention. Make sure the letters and envelopes are representative of your best work.
A continuous flow of leads is crucial for your graphic design business’ long-term success.