When you’re starting a business, you are faced with a million and one questions to answer. From who you are as an entrepreneur to what your business will resolve for its clients. Financial flow to hiring hiccups. With an economic downturn looming, an expedited journey towards digital, increased innovation and a growing level of entrepreneurship, many new creative business owners will be taking their first steps over the coming months. Today, we will look at branding, presence and share of voice as a means of getting more customers for those new design, digital marketing, print and signage businesses.
Is it important to acquire new customers?
As the owner or leader of a creative business, you are faced with a flurry of challenges day in, day out. To name a few, many graphic designers struggle with standing out from the (often saturated) crowd. Balancing working on their business and in their business (read about working smarter as a business owner here). Staying relevant when it comes to new products and systems and being unique. One consideration we all have in common is our customers. Without our customers, we cease to be. It is undoubtedly important to maintain and enrich relationships with your existing clients. Especially in the creative industry, we need to know our customers and their businesses personally. We are, after all, contributing to and moulding their brand, identity, marketing and goals.
Unfortunately, working tirelessly to maintain fantastic relationships with your existing client base is simply not enough. Using a CRM system to offer them an elevated customer experience. Adding value at every interaction. Helping to get them more customers. It’s still not enough. If you do not also focus on acquiring new clients, your business will inevitably begin to decline. Or at best, grow stagnant.
Think about it. A large proportion of the customers on your books today will, in 10 or 5 or half a year’s time, be gone. Some will move. Others will retire. Even close their business. So while we create and nurture strong relationships with our existing clients we must also look to work with new businesses every day.
How do I get more customers?
For sure, this is not the easiest climate to step up and speak to new businesses in. It’s safe to assume that everyone you speak to is struggling personally and professionally in one way or another. But isn’t that precisely the time to speak to new businesses? Has there ever been a time when you had this much in common with your clients? When you know before picking up the phone what the likely root of their biggest struggle is. And that you are probably facing much of the same.
To get more customers right now, you should place your energy into positioning yourself as the creative to solve your clients’ problems. Become omnipresent. Be the one to share with them a reopening guide with actual support on operational and organisational issues. The one to create and launch the products they need in this changing environment. To advise them on pivoting, changing and thriving. Create valuable assets in a variety of mediums and become known as the creative problem solver to turn to. In other words, grow your share of voice.
What is Share of Voice?
With a saturated market and an increasing number of new businesses emerging, it is more important than ever that you build brand awareness and loyalty. Set yourself apart in order to attract new customers.
Share of voice refers to how prevalent your brand is, in comparison to your competitor, when it comes to market share, an advertising channel or audience.
With a leading share of voice, your brand builds authenticity, becomes more credible, secures an expert standing and grows consumer confidence.
Ways to grow your Share of Voice
1 Release valuable, shareable assets
A valuable way of growing your share of voice is through creating and promoting value adding assets that your target market can use to resolve issues they are facing. As a printer, designer or sign maker, this might look like a guide to reopening your business. Webinars and workshops in which you share advice and insight, enabling your customers to do more for themselves and share information with their contacts too.
Over the past number of months, Nettl studios have launched their Reopening Guide, Prevent & Protect guide, Bi-Monthly SEO workshops and marketing-focussed networking webinars for local businesses. Assets are a fantastic way to organically grow your share of voice. When people see the value in the information being shared, be they partners or clients or social media connections, they share them far and wide with others, who then share them with their own connections.
2 Networking to grow your share of voice
If share of voice is about dominating the advertisement sphere and market presence in comparison with your competitors, the more people you know, the more it will grow. Ensure you’re ever-present in your local area and industry. Attend networking events and reach out to those based near you. Meet for a coffee or get to know one another over video call. Connect with people and you will build recognition of your brand. They will in-turn be more likely to share referrals and grow your Share of Voice through word-of-mouth. Here’s a practical guide to making the most of your network.
3 Social media, PR, SEO and PPC to get seen
Grow your share of voice and get in front of new customers through social media, by being active in the content you post as well as the frequency with which you engage with other posts. Create a social media plan to publish high quality content. Plot 20 minutes a day wherein you engage with other people’s social media, be that, following your ideal clients’ pages or commenting on your customer’s post. Compliment this activity with targeted ad campaigns tailored to the demographic of your ideal client to get in front of new customers.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) works in a similar way to this authentic social media activity. If new customers are searching for what you do online, and your website shows up high in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) they’re more likely to trust you and recognise you again in the future. Similarly to social media ad campaigns, you can compliment your SEO with Pay Per Click advertising. This is a great short-term way to boost share of voice when it comes to SERPs as your ranking depends on your bid so you can secure a presence in a relatively short period of time with the right budget. Online and traditional Press Releases compliment all of the above.
4 More customers = more referrals
With more customers each receiving an excellent customer experience, you will naturally grow share of voice through word of mouth and referral based marketing. The more you please your clients, encourage them to share referrals, perhaps through a referral voucher, and share the work you create for them through portfolio pieces and case studies, the more people will see, recognise and think of your brand. All of this contributes to an increase in Share of Voice and with that, more customers.
5 Innovate and lead in your industry
Being an industry leader will grow your Share of Voice, position you as an expert and enable you to acquire more and more new customers. For a creative studio, innovation might be a creative way to use your clients’ budget that will reap them most reward. It might be launching new product lines according to the challenges and needs of your client base (both existing and potential). Remember to divide your time between working in the business; from handling enquiries to managing projects, and working on the business; by completing business reviews, marketing campaigns and client research.
One example of innovation across our Nettl studios came in the form of Support Websites. These are community-based, local, directory-style websites where local businesses can create listings to share the way they are operating in changing times, new products or services or any other news.
While towns and cities were locked down and now as they gradually reopen, local businesses on Support Websites have a platform to share their changing operations. They create relationships and network connections with other listings, support local ventures and charities. The community can even avail of the free webinars and advice the Support Team offer.
SupportDublin.com recently held a webinar for their listings to Learn how to improve their marketing plans, completely free of charge. It was a great opportunity for businesses to meet others in their area, discuss challenges with other entrepreneurs and take away skills and assets at the end of the session. This global network of Support Websites has grown Nettl’s share of voice across far reaching communities, in a very locally-focussed way.
6 Form Partnerships to access wider audiences
Our final way to grow your Share of Voice is one that could have a substantial impact on the market share your brand dominates. Forming partnerships enables you to join forces. As the old Irish proverb goes;
“Ní neart go cur le chéile.”
Irish proverb meaning “there is no strength without unity.”
A partnership with a business that shares your ideal client but provides a different service is a good option. You can cross-promote and share one another’s services.
Brand Partnerships to Grow your Share of Voice
Another option that hundreds of creatives across the world have opted for, is becoming a Nettl Brand Partner.
Being a Nettl Partner enables print, web, design and signage businesses to access wider audiences and get more customers through a variety of ways. The one we’re focusing on today is an increase in Share of Voice. With hundreds of local web, design, print and signs studios around the world offering consultative advice, products and services to their SME clients, the fluency with which your brand is recognised grows each day.
Having a community like Nettl means you can tap into resources you otherwise would not be able to access, as well as benefiting from other partners’ ideas and campaigns. In terms of growing your share of voice, as a partner, every time any partner around the world rolls out a campaign to promote themselves, they in turn promote your brand.
In recent interviews, Nettl partners have shared some of the best things about Nettl. Catch up on more from our partners.
“(from a small business point of view) we would just never have those resources,” Mark
Creative Businesses Growing Share of Voice
In order to face into some of the key challenges our creative industry faces, we must identify ways to grow our share of voice. As a local creative business you may choose to do this through shareable, valuable assets, networking, SEM and digital marketing, referral marketing or by becoming an industry leader. Whichever solution you choose, lean on the support and advice of those around you, reach out for help when you need it and remember the reason we’re here in the first place. Because More Customers, Old Bean.
If you are the owner of a creative business looking to get more customers and grow your share of voice through any of the above, feel free to reach out to our team at Nettl who maintain partnerships with other creative businesses all over the world. Learn more about Nettl Partners today.