Web design is already a competitive industry, and it’s getting more crowded out there. The competition isn’t just from the local precinct where you live and work currently; it’s from many professionals and companies (all sizes).
Today, there’s a strong need to distinguish yourself from them. There ought to be a way to make a distinct mark all the way from how you make clients come to you to deliveries and service.
A brand is all about how the customers “feel” about the entire transaction. If you are running a web design company, chances are that your work does a lot of talking and convincing. So it does for every other web design company and freelancers too.
Your work really does the talking
Your website has to be simple and yet effective. It doesn’t have to be outrageous, beautiful, or exceptional; it just has to be modern, utilitarian, and visitor friendly.
Further, it’s not just about the looks really. Your website should be a case study in itself.
It’s performance – with respect to traffic, conversions, utility, design, UX, and responsiveness – should almost work like a case study for your prospective clients. If your work has to do the talking, it better be able to communicate well and quick.
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Work on authenticity
You can pique your prospective customers’ interest, but you’d also have to make this interest last long enough for conversion. Hokey strategies don’t work. Getting customers to your website is one thing; being truthful, authentic, and a pleasant company to do business is completely something else.
As a brand, focus on what your company stands for. Develop a distinct personality so that everything you say or do reflects this personality. Without authenticity, you are driving in a car that as no coat of paint.
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Reputation and social proof go a long way
If you are just starting out, do whatever you can to gain reputation and social proof. Get clients by putting up your services for free and give away stuff.
Collect testimonials in print or in video (only authentic and true ones, please) and dedicate an entire page on website for this. Make sure you have a running list of client logos displayed on your site. No matter how suave, sophisticated, and modern the Internet-spoiled world will get, social proof is a very human thing.
As long as the world raves about your services, more companies and individuals will want to do business with you.
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Focus on outreach and sales
You aren’t going to get much hiding behind a clutch of computers with (or without) a team. Get bold. Go out there and start publishing to get your voice heard. Eventually, you should be everywhere on the web. For instance, start guest posting on leading blogs such as Smashing Magazine, Six Revisions, and Net Magazine.
Start with outgoing proposals to other companies. Participate in contests and open requests on 99designs. Find work from job boards and many other places online. Hustle to get your business.
Then, there is the “do and sell” model: get your ongoing and completed work on dribble and Behance. Sell some of your templates and artwork at Creative Market or The Envato Marketplace (includes Graphic River and Theme Forest).
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Leverage social media
You’ll have a multi-pronged approach: build your network, become an expert on all things web design, and showcase your work. Social media is a perfect answer. Set aside time everyday to work on your social networks. Start with sharing information (even if you don’t produce this content).
Dive straight into conversions around hash tag discoveries such as #webdesign or #responsivedesign or even around the tools or platforms you are an expert on such as #businesscatalyts, #creativecloud, and #wordpress. Ever so slowly, you will be seen as an expert on web design, you’ll be loved, respected, and you’ll help bridge your business with your social activity.
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Get hyper alert everywhere. Comments and responses are cash
You know what we’d think of any individual or company on social media when we send out a tweet or post a comment on their respective Facebook page and never receive a response. It goes something like:
“So, you think you are that big? Eh? Wait till I share this with my fans and followers”
A brand doesn’t have to be a fancy definition from the old Phillip Kotler’s Marketing Principles textbook. A brand is how customers feel about you. It’s what they say about you when they talk about your business or share their opinions. If you aren’t responding to their comments on social media, what message do you think you are sending out?
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Do big. Whatever that means for you
To start with, you are already “teaching” with the content you produce. You’ll, however, gain more credibility and respect as more people see, hear, and learn from you.
Talking about learning, start with webinars, they are an incredibly effective way to generate leads. Focus on “teaching” something. Did you notice web design experts giving away free training on Adobe TV?
Every time their name, brand, or company logo pops up, brand equity is hard at work. Teaching automatically instills a sense of respect, admiration, and gratitude from your delegates or learners. Prepare to teach if you want your brand to shine through.
You don’t need to work too hard for it, thankfully. Start with sites such as Code Academy where you can also teach. Go ahead and launch a course on Udemy.com or WizIQ. If none of that works (or if you want to do more), launch your own courses for free on your website. Additionally, you can create Google Hangouts or launch your own virtual classrooms.
Co-author or write a book. Push out more content on the web. Do what it takes for you to get out there and build your brand.
What are you doing right now to work on your brand? How easy or difficult do you think it is?
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