Thursday, July 28, 2011

What I Love About Small Businesses.

Small businesses are typically on a shoestring budget and love to learn do-it-yourself methods, marketing and professional design is one of the first things they cut when the budget gets tight and because of this, my workload is subject to many ups and downs, so it surprises many of my professional network when they learn that small businesses are 80% of my clientele. Now I am not saying that if a larger company wants to work with me that I will turn them away, but I do focus most of my efforts on the onsie and twosie type shops.

I see that small businesses struggle with their marketing, with keeping their business image consistent and coming up with a professional design that really separates them from their main competitors. It is becoming more common for companies who are a part of my industry to shoot up their rates, exclude the smaller guys with smaller projects, who ask more questions and are inconsistent in their marketing needs.

I can’t imagine dropping my small guys. I LOVE my small guys. Small businesses are emotionally invested in their company, many times creating partnerships with family members and or childhood friends. Small businesses have a great passion for their companies, truly believe in their product and market it with all their heart and soul. I love to hear about the stories behind the start of a small business and how they got to where they are right now. When talking about a new idea, I like to see the light in their eyes and hear the excitement in their voice. I like to get to know my clients to have a complete understanding of their personality and their business goals. Many of these characteristics that small business owners obtain are few and far between when dealing in Corporate America. Corporate America is so focused on the bottom line, they loose the passion that stems from owning your own business. I think the TV show Undercover Boss is a great example of this. Large companies loose sight of their roots and forget what matters to the little guys, which creates a huge disconnect between the two.

I myself am a small business owner, I have stable growth and pride myself on quality. I am individually owned and only use outside resources when it will benefit my clients. I am a big proponent of why pay for something when you can get it for free? I want to help my clients design marketing materials and to develop websites that not only mean something, but that they are proud of. I strive to give my clients flexibility, to allow them to be as much a part of the creative process as they want to be. Feeling boxed into your choices is uncomfortable for anyone, especially a small business owner who is typically wearing many of the hats needed in their business. One thing that stands out to me about small business owners is the heart behind the business.

What I am here to do is offer choices, allow my clients to be as involved as they like to be and only hire me when they NEED ME. I don't believe in retainer fees or monthly packages that may or may not include services that you will use. Working with the small guys is a great passion of mine, as I truly believe that all businesses deserve the right to professional design for an affordable price and to not pay for something that they really don't need.

Tasha Lee Design, Chicagoland Graphic Designer
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What is Your Niche? Clients That Tower Above

A great struggle of business owners is finding their niche market. Competitors are all around you and determining what makes you different, more valuable and which niche you belong in can be an intimidating task.

I attended a seminar last Spring that mentioned the idea of placing your clients into towers. What!? That was exactly my response, let me explain.

Each one of your clients can be categorized, as you go through the list, start placing your clients into their corresponding category. This can be based on the type of project, demographics, industry for businesses working B2B or a number of other options. As you start categorizing, you will see one of your lists TOWER about the others.... this is your niche market. The market you work with most often, have the most experience with and can best determine their needs. Since the category far exceeds and towers above all other categories, you can then leverage this as your niche market. Use this information to start marketing to that particular niche using words such as, SPECIALIZE or CATER TO.

Knowing what your niche is the hardest part, once it is determined, run with it! Now that you know what type of client you work with most often, you can building case studies and position yourself as an expert in your newly defined niche. How exciting! You have the start to a marketing plan. Start creating your marketing materials to reflect your niche and spark the interest of your ideal client.

WAYS To Target Your Niche Market:

  • Advertise in printed publications that your niche is interested in
  • Become a member of a forum or chat board and start answering questions / giving advice within your niche market
  • Customize your website design to appeal to your niche market by offering resources, products and solutions that meet their needs
  • Define new products and services that cater to your niche market
  • Define / Position yourself as an expert through public speaking, blogging or seminars
  • Ask current clients for referrals or testimonials that fall within your niche market
  • Build case studies to show that you have had success within your niche market

Tasha Lee Design, Chicagoland Graphic Designer
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