To win more business, simply focus on your uniqueness
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
- Dr. Seuss
Living in Brighton I get to see and meet a vast array of different characters - it's a place where anything goes and that's one of the reasons why I love it so much. When it comes to creating or building a business though, people seem to forget their individuality and talk in too broad terms.
For example, lately I've had far too many people describing themselves to me as simply a "designer", which is not really a rarity in Brighton. When I ask them what type of design they do, the vast majority say "web" or "web and print". This still does not help. What I need to know so that it sticks in my mind is what makes you different than the rest of the designers, because you are! Dr. Seuss was a very wise man. He also said:
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
What I need to know is what is special about you? Why should I phone you instead of the designer over there? What work have you done recently that you can describe in terms of style? For example "I'm very much into the Web 2.0 style of design, I recently did X for company X" or "I really love surrealist design and wherever I can I try to inject some of that into my work".
Perhaps you focus on the branding side, perhaps you focus on helping coders - whatever it is that you do which is different, however small that difference is, I need to know as I may meet, or even be, your ideal client at some point on my travels. I need to know what your uniqueness is.
When people ask me what I do, I often say that I enjoy building communities on and offline. I say that I use Free, Open Source Software to do this online, mostly using the 'community plumbing' Drupal system. I also give them a recent example of a brand which I helped to build a community for. I try to give people three 'hooks' to remember about me - what I do, why I do it, and who has paid me to do this for them.
It changes slightly depending on who I am talking to, which is often why you find me asking other people what they do first so that I can adjust my answer accordingly. I could say that I am a PHP developer, but there's probably as many PHP developers in Brighton as there are designers.
The simple truth is, if you keep just telling people you're a designer, you're not going to stick in people's minds. Take some time to work out your words and try them out - after a few times watching how people react to what you say you'll be able to work out what works best for you, and your networking efforts will be much more worthwhile.
Finally, Dr. Seuss further remarked:
"So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads."
So I'll leave it at that, for now ;)