It’s a really cool day when a creative who sells her talents and services (a graphic designer, writer, stylist, photographer, videographer) realizes she prefers working with a special kind of client who “gets her,” appreciates her, and gets the most impact out of what she creates for them. Hooray to her, because realizing who that dream customer is, is half the battle. More congrats are in order, maybe a few weeks, months or even years down the road when she then decides focus in, create content for, and only work with that specific kind of dream customer.
When you get niched (however you pronounce it, sounds like “eeshed” or sounds like “itched”) your first instinct is to start pushing your creative heart, soul and talents even harder – just funneled toward this particular tribe dream customers, “your people.” But really, if you’ve been bold enough to say “this is who I am for,” you could probably do less pushing the creative heart and soul – and more pulling them to you by sharing what you know. Because when you’re talking to your specific dream customers, you already know so much about them. Here are five things creatives who already know their dream customer, do – to attract more of them.
Attracting more of what you love (and can become known for) really comes down to being a likeable expert who shares gifts of knowledge. If you’re lucky enough to begin to do creative work for the kind of people you could imagine working with from now on, you absolutely should start on the right foot, by not just relying on your creative skills – but acting like a creative expert. Scratch that. Not just acting like a creative expert, but actually taking the steps to become one.
What Creative Experts Do That Attracts Dream Clients
1. CREATIVE EXPERTS EXPLAIN, they don’t sell.
Nobody hates feeling like a desperate sales person more than a creative in business for themselves. And nothing puts off a potential dream client like desperation. So stop trying to memorize talking points or prove how awesome your portfolio is. (What is this, senior review? No.) Next time you’re in a Skype or get-to-know-you coffee meeting, stop trying to show how creative and inspiring you are – and actually explain your creative process. Lift the veil and let this person you’d like to pay you, in on the behind-the-scenes of your creativity and how you work. It shouldn’t be a shiny polished perfect “thing” you are selling them. Your content and conversations should be about the path you plan to guide them down, what they can expect along the way, and what they’ll get at the end of the day.
2. CREATIVE EXPERTS PREDICT, because they see the patterns.
Your dream customers should be specific enough in your mind (their special kind of style, their special kind of struggles, their reason for hiring a creative that specifically offers what you do) that when you talk to them, either in a blog post, an email, a tweet, or a face-to-face conversation, you’re already sharing information that resonates with them and even starts to address (or fix) their need or pain – before they even tell you about it, heck, sometimes before they’re even able to put their finger on it. Experts can do this because when you work with the same kind of dream customer over and over again, you see patterns. And when you see patterns, you can connect the dots. This doesn’t mean you should jump to conclusions or start cranking out one-size-fits-all cookie cutter creative for your clients. Once they become your clients you can start to put on your listening, adjusting and uncovering hat (more on that in the next point). Now, the content you create to share, especially for a following or audience, can certainly touch on universal commonalities – but the key is keeping your “universe” narrow, so you are sharing your specific knowledge, not just spouting common sense for the masses.
3. CREATIVE EXPERTS GET ENTHUSIASTIC APPROVAL,
because they listen, adjust, and share what they uncover along the way.
Nobody hates rejection of their work more than a creative. Maybe it’s because our identity, our ego, our specialness is all tied up in our talents? Why is it so emotional, frustrating or down right demoralizing for us when a client doesn’t like what we’ve created for them? Why do we take it so personally? Because deep down, I think we fear it’s the last good idea we will ever have. It’s not that we’re mad (okay, maybe annoyed), but it’s really that we’re freaked out a little bit when we get a lukewarm reception to our work. If you are lucky enough to be working with a dream customer, and want to attract more like them, you’ve got to deliver on the goods, right? But who says that “the goods” are only delivered at the end of your client engagement, when the concept is presented or the product is unveiled in a grand “ta-da” after all the concepting, procrastinating and creating is done and finished? That’s a lot of breath-holding for something that’s supposed to knock their socks off, and it’s as much pressure for your client as it is for you.
But what if you let your clients in on the work in progress along the way? Actually gave them a chance to like, or not like, the direction you’re taking them – before you actually get there? Maybe your “goods” are actually how you’re a collaborative creative, who has a cool way of asking just the right questions, and gathering inspiration and giving their client a behind-the-scenes feeling to the whole experience! We all fear “design-by-committee” so much, that I sometimes think creatives have skewed too far the opposite direction in self defense, and become design-by-hermit-in-a-cave.
4. CREATIVE EXPERTS CAN REPLICATE WHAT THEY’RE KNOWN FOR
because they have a creative process – that they actually use and stick to!
So let’s say you successfully pull off the most collaborative, enthusiastically approved creative experience for yourself and your dream customer. How does that help you attract more? Well, the first thing you might think is word-of-mouth, and that can be true, but it can also be pretty sketchy. Mostly because all good intentions aside, if you aren’t laser focused on a who your dream customer is, and what your specialty is, you really can’t expect even the dreamiest customer to relay that information accurately to others, or to other dreamy prospects.
But what do creative experts really do with that dream engagement already in their belt to attract more of the same? They replicate it with a, drum roll please – a creative process. They deconstruct why that working relationship, well, worked so well. Could you do the same? What are the steps you took? Can you pair each major step with a visual of your creative-in-progress? Can you share these visual steps in your next conversation in a highly visual yet logical way, with your next potential dream client? It could very well make the difference between that person being inspired by your creativity – and actually feel so confident you can create that kind of work for them, that they hire you on the spot.
But here’s the thing that actually makes you an expert – and it’s rinse and repeat. Can you actually stick to those steps, behind-the-scenes, when no one is looking, every time you work on a project? Not just whip up some creative magic on the fly, but actually use your process to help you create the work? Nothing holds you more accountable to a creative process, then showing the client ahead of time how you are going to share the process with them along the way. And that does more than just help you close the deal, and maintain your position as an expert throughout the working relationship – it builds your confidence for the next potential dream customer conversation. Confidence based on actual experience is the anecdote to desperation!
5. CREATIVE EXPERTS CAN TEACH and are willing and able to
share their content.
A great side-effect with a roundabout, but highly effective way of attracting more dream customers, is that the specific knowledge you gain from this repeatable process, for a very certain kind of client – actually fuels your content. You will be chock-full of understanding and really super-helpful know-how based on real patterns and insights. If you can share what you know, either by giving it away or choosing to package and sell this content, the more you will build a tribe of built-in dream customers who are already learning from you. Giving away the knowledge that attracts your dream customer to you, doesn’t mean you’re giving away the talents they can hire you for. You may even find you like the teaching more than the doing. Either way, pairing what you get paid for, with helping content you can share – isn’t what order-takers do. It’s what creative experts do.
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As a working creative, what is one shift in your actions, or even how you describe yourself, that could make you feel more like an expert in the eyes of your dream clients? Tell us on Facebook.
The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.