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So we’re surely having an interesting time in South Africa. The economy is not what it is supposed to be and we’re all very aware of the way we spend our money the act of getting through it, if we ever do, is to be survivalist down to the core.

This is beneficial to the creative industry in that the more a company struggles, the more they need to be marketing, getting their name and brand out there and making people aware of what they offer and stand for.

So how have I gotten the last couple of clients, and how can you take this information and make more money as a freelance creative? In South Africa people don’t tend to share this information because they feel it might create a form of competition and they’ll lose out. I want to enable more people to be creative because this country has so much to offer with regards to creative ideas and evoking change that it would be wrong to hold it back.

The only way is to actually put yourself out there. To actually tell people what you have to offer.

How to do it?

Buy the ticket, take the ride

Hunter S. Thompson had this idea that you should choose what you want to achieve and do it or else time will go by and you won’t be left with a choice and be forced to do what you don’t want to due to circumstance. So if you believe something should be done to improve a company’s business offering, you should (read ‘MUST’) now.

Hunter S. Thompson said it the best:

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

I recommend taking the first day of the week and actually picking up the phone and start calling. Friends, family, people you’ve met along your path and the businesses you feel can benefit from your services whether it’s rebranding, redoing a website or producing a video to illustrate a company’s manufacturing process or how something is made. Pick up the phone. Make the calls.

Now you might think where does one get the people who need your services? It’s quite simple in South Africa. Although we’re quite ahead with regards to technology and it’s integration into our daily lives, we’re also pretty old-school with our marketing of our companies and what it has to offer. If you’re a web designer or developer you know that you can’t really search the web for bad website designs and get a lead. The potential clients you would find would either already have a site although it’s not the best. Owners of SMEs will just blow you off and tell you they already have a site. It’s easier to focus on the businesses that don’t have sites. So, pick an industry that you would like to focus on and pick up the yellow pages. Go to the section that focusses on that industry and make the calls. Or, better, get in the car and drive to them. Small businesses aren’t always busy and the boss or his son or daughter are most likely to be the ones who buzzes you in.

There are many businesses logged, and they all need to get online. Many sites to be built and you’re not going to be successful with the first call or the second. That’s not the idea. You need only one, so make as many calls as you need to get that one.

Let people know about your skills

Designers are mostly proud of their craft and once you finished with your studies you have this idea that people want your skill set with their logo or brochure design but in fact this isn’t nearly the case. Instead of pulling the clients towards you, push your ideas out to them in a respectful way.

I recently got a message on LinkedIn of a friend of mine telling me he’s looking for a new chapter in his design career and that the place he currently works in has little room for growth. He then mentions his skills and what he’s capable of doing and if there is any possibility to work for me it would be amazing. Currently I am a freelancer with no office or studio or the large clients like that of an agency so the following day  I wrote back telling him that if something come up I’ll let him know, but that it won’t be immediate.

On the same day he sent me a message about how he now has interviews at M&C Saatchi, Quirk and a few others. Just like that. I was stoked for him. You can do the same too!

The ABCs

I used to work in the plastics industry where I had to go out to clients and sell the products the factory made. These products ranged from plastic water tanks to the green dustbins you see in Long Street in Cape Town. It’s a large company and these products aren’t one-product sales. It’s negotiating with the municipalities and getting to the decision-makers to let them see the products.

As a salesman, you meet other sales people who would give you tips. One of the guys I met, now a very good friend of mine got me to watch Jordan Belfort’s sales training videos (Jordan Belfort is the guy in The Wolf of Wall Street played by Leonardo diCaprio). The training dvd set is called the Straight Line Persuasion System. It’s not to learn how to manipulate people. It’s rather to persuade them to use your services. I recommend getting the DVD set. We’re all selling something, some just sell it better than others. As a freelancer you can’t rely on the suits to talk business with the client. You need to do the sell your idea, do client service and deliver great work. You are and must be all of these in one.

It’s consists of ten videos of each an hour long where he tells you about tone of voice and how you have about four seconds on the telephone before a person decides to listen to you.

His mantra is to be as enthusiastic as hell, as sharp as a tack and a force to be reckoned with. Be that designer. The guy who’s an expert and can offer advice. Be the guy people think of as the go-to guy when they have a design problem. If we reflect, design is all about design thinking which is to solve a problem in the most effective way. Go do it. The ABCs in sales isn’t the alphabet you learnt at school. It’s to always look for the area in their business where you can improve upon. Close the deal. Get the business. If they turn you down, make it clear that they are losing out on opportunities. A = Always, B = Be and C = Closing.

Use this strategy in every interaction with people you meet. Don’t be forceful but make it clear that you know your art, you’re an expert and try make them see what you can offer them with design and creative execution.

What are your ideas with regards to getting new business and expanding your brand? Give us some ideas in the comments if you want!

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