Marketing for Designers: Shifting Gears to the User Experience

Marketing for Designers: Shifting Gears to the User Experience

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Creative beings.

Solid communicators.

Stellar problem solvers.

These are a few of the qualities that make up a great designer.

But what about the ability to market, whether it is a product, brand or even oneself? Are great designers great marketers too? Not necessarily; however, with a few tweaks here and few adjustments there, designers hold the potential to become some of the best marketers. It all starts with the subtle but powerful shift of attention onto the user.

I am going to walk you through some basic steps that will help you to splash a little oil on those rusty and neglected marketing gears and start you off on a smooth ride.

1)   Identify Your Audience.  Your audience is not “everyone.” If you try to market your product to everyone you are going to end up exhausted, broke and no further ahead than you were when you started. Get specific! That’s why they call it a “target” audience. Freelance designer, Kendra Gaines, offers these pearls of wisdom:

“Figure out who you are specifically targeting…and put your efforts into them. (Doing this) will help your effectiveness and eventually help your reach because once you know who you’re selling to, you’ll better know how to design for them.” (1)

It makes sense, right? We are not a cookie cutter nation; we are a conglomerate of unique individuals. By taking the time to learn the needs and desires of the individuals who are naturally gravitating towards your design, you will be better able to serve yourself as well as them.

2)   Organize Your Portfolio. As a designer, you are lucky. You create designs. Thinks of your designs as visual content marketing and build your portfolio. Part of what makes a portfolio “outstanding” is how specific it is. When a potential user is in search of a designer, quite often they are so focused on their own needs that they lack imagination when it comes to your design.

Organizing your portfolio by types of design into multiple mini-portfolios is an easy way to increase your marketability by making the search simple for your user. (2)

Let’s say, for example, I am a wildlife conservation non-profit looking for a designer for an upcoming campaign. If I come across your portfolio and the first 5 designs I see are a mish-mash of industrial design, product design, and animation, I am probably going to dismiss you as a choice before I even get to see one of your environmental designs.

On the other hand, if your portfolio is made up of several mini-portfolios titled “Industrial,” “Product,” “Animation” and “Environmental,” you will drastically improve your chances of getting hired. By making it all about simplifying and bettering the user experience, you are once again helping yourself too.

3)   Social Media Presence. Beware the dangers of the social media time-suck! You can literally lose hours of valuable design time if you don’t create a strategy and stick to it.

If you are brand new to using social media as a marketing tool, don’t be afraid; set aside an hour or so, even as little as a few times a week, to schedule posts and engage with others. Keep in mind that social media works best when you use it as a way to engage rather than a large and annoying digital megaphone, screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!”

How to avoid the nasty time-suck? There are social media management tools that can help you to organize and automate the scheduling of your posts. A couple that I would recommend are:

 As a designer, your primary social network focus should be Pinterest. Or, if you want to pick one from the “Big 4” social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+), possibly Facebook, or participate in one of the Facebook groups. Design is a visual art, so I suggest focusing on the social channel(s) that really allow you to showcase the visual. Pinterest is made for this! I could write an entire blog on Pinterest tips for designers but in the meantime I will just share my favorite five. (3)

5 Key Pinterest Takeaways:

I.         Your “About” Section: WHO you are and the products/services you offer as a designer. Add SEO keywords to this section!

II.      Your “Image”: Post either a photo of yourself or your logo

III.     Board Placement: Put your most important boards in the top middle section of the page. Studies have shown that this is where out eyes go first!

IV.     Have Many “Focused” Boards: Your boards should highlight your beautiful design work while focusing on the interests and FAQs of your ideal user.

V.       Engage: If you want to build a solid following, you must re-pin the content of others. The road to reciprocity starts with curation!

4)   Blogging with a Purpose. Like with social media marketing, blogging has the propensity to be either a valuable tool, which converts readers into customers, or an enormous waste of time. Again, it comes down to how focused and organized your strategy is. Remember, the ultimate goal is to maximize the conversion and build your customer base.

Rather than writing a bunch of arbitrary design-themed blogs, ask yourself what needs, problems and questions your potential customers have. You can even use your social media sites to pose questions. This will not only engage your followers, but also give you valuable information about what your target audience really wants to hear! (1)

By shifting your attention to the “user experience,” when it comes to your marketing efforts, you are able to identify your audience, organize your portfolio, build your social network and create a well-thought-out blog. Those four basic steps will help you get a jumpstart on marketing your design.

As a designer, your true talent lies within your ability to create visual communications; your subtle shift of attention from “I” to “User” allows those experiences to get noticed.

Tweet this: The road to reciprocity starts with curation!

Tweet this: Maximize the conversion and build your customer base

Tweet this: Are great designers great marketers too?

RESOURCES:

(1)  http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2011/12/designing-for-your-target-audience/

(2)  http://mashable.com/2011/08/21/design-portfolio-hiring/

(3)  http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/12/03/10-strategic-ways-to-optimize-your-pinterest-page-infographic/

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