How To Get More Design Clients with an Effective Marketing Message

Unless you went to business school or graduated with a degree in business, chances are you weren’t taught how to write text that will bring in clients. This is typical with technical and creative arts, and is one of the main areas in which freelancers fall down.
You know very well how to do the production work, but not so much on the marketing side. So how do you communicate effectively to clients to not only help them understand what you can really do for them, but also how they should engage you? Let’s take a look at some of the ways to make this happen.

Start With What You Really Do

The first step in figuring out the proper marketing message is to look at what you really do. The production work you do is creating a logo, web design, or other graphic. But is that what you’re really doing for customers? They can get that work anywhere, for cheap. You want to show that you’re different, and that you are worth what you charge.

So what is it you really do?

Look at the clients you’ve been working with. Who are these people? What do they do? Are they project managers who have bosses breathing down their neck, and they rely on you to keep them out of the fire? Or perhaps you’re handling overflow work for a design agency, thus helping them to take on more design clients and bring in additional revenue. Or perhaps you’re teaming up with other freelance designers, forming a syndicate of sorts to get even larger design clients.

Take a hard look at the types of people you’re working for, and why they are buying from you. If you’re not sure, just ask. However I’m sure that you can come up with a pretty good profile based on what you already know.

Create The Message

If you’ve been designing sites or logos or any other graphic that is going onto company materials, then you’ve been involved in marketing and branding efforts. That’s the road we’re going down here. So now that you know what you really do for your customers, what you are really providing, the next step is to put that into words that grab people and really show the value you’re providing.

Let’s say that you’ve determined that you help small businesses to better connect with their customers by showing their personality through the design of their site, making them more human and approachable. If that’s the case, you might say something like, “At XYZ Design Firm, we help our clients connect with their customers at a deeper level, creating profitable and more human relationships that last.”

Or something like that.

Sounds a little hokie? Well, I challenge you to come up with something better, using your own words. I’m sure you can and I hope you do. Regardless of wording, the point is to take what you really do and connect with your customers on a deeper level. Sure everyone is price conscious, but if you can truly connect with them, you can negotiate a better position for yourself.

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Spread The Message

So now you have an awesome message? Fantastic. Now put that sucker everywhere you live online – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forum profiles, etc. Everywhere. And in every piece of writing you do, be sure that if you don’t outright state your message, that it’s in the undercurrent of all your writing. Keep hammering away with it, and people will get it. And those that connect with it, have a much higher likelihood of becoming a new design client. As an example, I had one of our larger clients reading my company blog (at Atlantic Dominion Solutions) for more than one year before hiring us. And what got him to finally sign? The messaging we consistently hammered away with on our blog and everything we did.

Consistency counts for a lot.

The Bottom Line

Don’t rush into this and start changing your messaging everywhere just yet. Take some time to profile your design clients, find out what the commonalities are among them, what messages they may be receptive to, determine what your core message is, and how best to convey it. You job is to connect with design clients at a deeper level, so they choose you over the next person with Photoshop that claims to be a designer. Do that, and you can win.

What are your thoughts? Share them with me.

After reading through a few of my suggestions, feel free to add your experiences, thoughts, and questions by leaving a comment. How do you find new design clients? What marketing tactics do you use? What’s your marketing message and how do you get it across to potential design clients?

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About Rob Dempsey


  1. Great article post! During this investigation, it’s also possible you may need to change the name of how your business is represented. When you ask your clients why they buy from you, ask also how they will refer you for projects. It’s either by your name or your business name, but there’s a huge difference between the two.

    Many may choose to refer by your name because it’s more of a personal introduction to what you do; some may refer by your name at your business name to get those used to hearing both in context. Still others will refer you by your business name, so be careful in how you choose to spell your name, tagline, and the message you create. If people have to guess what your business does, they may decide not to choose you. If they can’t spell it the way you do (look at my business name, for example), that can cause a problem in finding you.

    Another way to determine how people can/should refer you is by Googling yourself. See how many other people come up under your name, then under your business name. If you see your name pop up, find out how many pages deep it came up and how. An example of this is my Twitter account. Most of my colleagues/friends know I’m pretty active in Twitter, so it’s no surprise to me that my Twitter ID comes up on a search first.

    If more people refer you by your personal name but your name doesn’t come up on page one of Google because other, more active people come up first, you may want to spend some time strategizing an online marketing plan to determine how you can improve your ranking with Google. Engage with others within your industry. As the message above stated, however, be consistent.

  2. Really important tips. Summarize the purpose of your business in a few words is important. The customer can understand soon what you do and the marketing is facilitated.

  3. It’s great how you broke it down step-by-step. And when you do bag those clients, get testimonials from them after a successful project. That’s likely to help.

  4. very a good will make a core element in your overall marketing message…..

    Thanks foe sharing…

  5. Every designer should know this your blog is been turning one of my favorites.

  6. This is a great read. I’ve recently started really thinking about my message and how I represent myself. I’ve been freelancing over five years now and had completely neglected this aspect of my business. Your articles have become very helpful in this task.


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