Dial-In Your Brand Positioning
(Even if You’re Already Busy)
You’re busy with a steady stream of work coming in the door…at times too much to handle. You’ve turned away a fair amount of projects and have a solid pipeline of future projects to choose from. It provides you with a certain amount of confidence that your work speaks for itself and your reputation is solid. Working on your own brand / marketing is the least of your concerns.
Well, first of all, recognize that you are indeed in a good place. That’s something to feel proud of and allows for a great starting point for focused positioning work.
If you’re not in this place – as most studios aren’t – then working on your positioning should already be your top priority.
What is positioning? It’s your fundamental business strategy: What you do, how you do it and who pays you for it. It is the process of delcaring an expertise, articluating your market position and offerig to the world, creating a service process to back it up, and engaging a process to continually deepen and develop this expertise/offering. It requires knowing what you’re awesome at and who you do it for – and often why you do it. A clear understanding of your market position. To learn more about positioning strategy – I recommend subscribing to Win Without Pitching content by positioning guru Blair Enns.
The need to work on your brand positioning and communication goes well beyond having a full roster of clients on a consistent basis. That’s a great first step for a maturing studio but you can go much deeper than this: to a place even better – the best version of your business that hasn’t fully materialized yet. Yes, you may be busy with client work, but that masks a few things. What’s the average revenue per client? What’s your efficiency on these clients? What do they value you for? What’s the fit like? How healthy is your bank balance and take home pay? Let’s assess a few of these points:
FIT WITH CLIENTS
Being great at design work doesn’t necessarily translate to a roster of clients that are a direct fit with your business, brand, culture and expertise. Why? Because if you have shoddy communication and brand touch points your clients can’t self-select when choosing a studio to work with. Inevitably the criteria for selection for both you and the client becomes mostly budget. Truly successful projects and client relationships are born from a clear early fit on budget, brand, culture and expertise. If you attract more clients on this basis the reward is great: long lasting client relationships, successful passionate projects, and cash in the bank.
HIGH VALUE WORK: GET PAID FOR STRATEGY
If positioning is executed properly, you are declaring and effectively articulating an expertise with a service process to back it up. Read more about this HERE. This expertise translates to clients that value your strategic brain – not just the execution of your deliverables. They bring you in early on the decision making process and pay you for strategy. This allows for you to have a deeper impact on the project by integrating your expertise and strategy into the execution and provide better outcomes.
As well, you’ll no longer be commoditized by your clients – the types of clients who are looking to simply get the best design deliverables for the lowest price. The “awesome-at-design” space is very crowded with many great designers coming at a very cheap price. It’s a buyer’s market. Positioning requires you to choose a focus, declare your expertise and back it up with a specific service process. The outcome of this expertise is a roster of clients that value you for your strategic insight and realize that design is an outcome. It allows you to have more control over the buying process.
INCREASED AVERAGE REVENUE PER CLIENT
Woth a dialed positioning strategy, you should consistently be aiming to increase your average revenue per client. Having a full roster of clients does not mean you’re making a lot of money. If your goal is to generate $200,000 in annual income, is that better to come from 50 clients at $4,000 per client, or 10 clients at $20,000 per client? Without doubt, fewer clients and increase revenue per client is better on every basis. It allows for increased efficiency with less bouncing around between clients/projects and decreased time in learning client nuances during the onboarding process. This increases profitability and cash in the bank – at the same revenue level. Time spent on emails, meetings, project management, client onboarding, and learning intricate new relationships is challenging and inefficient and can be a killer to profitability.
TIME TO THINK
If you currently have a full roster of design projects – I can bet you can barely come up for air. You’re at capacity and struggling to keep up. Dialed positioning has a beautiful outcome: time to think. Clients will allow for it and pay for it – in the form of strategy. This thinking time generates a freedom in a project – to explore, research and allow ideas to steep into the best possible form. The results improve, the expertise deepens and your position in the market becomes ever stronger.
Dialing in your positioning feels good. It’s challenging work…no doubt, but it’s engaging and rewarding at the same time. It allows you to take control of your business and client projects – rather than them controlling you. You’re recognized as an expert, your clients value you for it, and you gain financial reward. You’ll be proud of your brand, have a clear understanding of your offering and feel a sense of freedom in your business.
How to move forward? Start working on your positioning strategy right away – do a bit at a time and the results will follow. Being in the design industry you’re likely great at brand positioning – better than the average entrepreneur. Set aside time where you think well and aren’t bogged down by work to-dos yet. First thing Monday morning before checking email tends to be a good time – even if it’s just 90 minutes. It will be challenging at first but before you know it the best version of your business will begin to emerge and momentum will build.