IDENTIFYING TARGET MARKETS
Before you create a design, you must first determine your audience, right? The
same principle applies when it comes to promoting your own design business.
Identify your potential clients as specifically as possible before you create a promotional
mailing campaign to attract them.
Who are these potential clients? Answer these two important questions first:
What kind of clients can I reasonably expect to attract, given my experience?
Who in my neighborhood (or borough or town or region) could benefit from
The next three exercises will take you even further down the path of identifying
your target markets.
When you’re starting out, typically your target market consists of small businesses
mentioned in newspaper and magazine articles, business-to-business
(B2B) directory listings, trade journals, and the yellow pages. Start digging.
Call the Chamber of Commerce about obtaining a list of new businesses
that have recently joined the Chamber. Befriend a local librarian. Run a database
search. Take note of grand opening notices. Comb through organizational
membership lists. Consult regional or local talent directories.
Consult the latest edition of Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market, an annual
listing of over 2,500 markets for design work, complete with details about contacts,
pay, and subject matter. Produced by Writer’s Digest Books, the Market is
also available in an online version.
Create a Prospect List
Copy down all contact information carefully on index cards, one for each
listing and divide the cards into A-B-C lists (twenty to forty per group), based
on your preference order. Another method is to create database lists with separate
To greatly increase your chances of succeeding with targeted mailings
(more on that on page 97), you must reach the person in charge of making decisions.
Time for a little sleuthing. Contact the firm and solicit that information
from the receptionist. Double check the spelling of the name, no matter how
simple it may be. (“That’s J-o-h-n M-i-l-l-e-r, right?”). While you have the
receptionist on the phone, request the e-mail address of the decision-maker so
you won’t have to call back later. Enter all information under the heading of
Prospects. Double-check all spellings and addresses by comparing the index card
to the computer printout. As we pointed out earlier, misspelling a name or getting
the address wrong makes a negative first impression, one that you may
never have the opportunity to correct.
Next it’s time to review the work you already have in your portfolio. What spinoffs
or niche markets come to mind? For example, have you designed menus or
Web sites for restaurants or bars? In that case, maybe food suppliers are a logical
next step. Or have you photographed or illustrated for garden products or
flower shows? What about tapping into related markets like fertilizer manufacturers
or florists? Are there other auxiliary markets that occur to you? If so,
make note of them now.