Marketing, selling and your personal brand
Marketing is telling your potential clients or employers that you exist and are available to work with them. Selling is the final stage of marketing where you seal the deal.
Freelancers are marketing themselves constantly and, more often than not, in an informal way when working on productions and meeting other freelancers/potential employers/clients at industry and social events.
Marketing works in either a push or a pull way – you can market yourself (push) to potential clients or clients can reach out to you (pull). Whichever way it happens, you will want to ensure you have a consistent and clear presence online. This is in effect your personal brand which needs to be up to date and demonstrate your skills and experience. One of the first things a potential employer or client will do is research you online. Your personal brand, whether you use your name or a company name, should be consistent across all of your marketing and communications.
Branding and why it is so important
Being the face of your brand can be incredibly intimidating. It requires you to put yourself on the line, in a very vulnerable position and open yourself up to being judged by all. However, this is what connects and resonates with other humans!
Strong branding matters – as it feels authentic, familiar and connects you with your customers on a deeper level.Your visual identity is part of your brand and needs to be consistent, distinct and designed with your audience in mind. This all improves the recognition and memorability of your brand… making sure it is in a robust position for the future.
This is never as important as a time where we are more online and more competitive for attention than ever before.A strong brand belongs to the business that knows who they are and are able to present this consistently to their audience.
Authenticity is crucial to business
It means not losing sight of your core values that set you apart:
- Passion for a creative and imaginative approach to all challenges
- A ‘no cookie cutter’ attitude!
In short – it’s important that your business is real, and this helps your clients’ maintain that authenticity too.
Brand differentiation comes less often from being inherently different and more often from having a strong plan for clear and authentic communication of who you are. This is the essence of what makes a brand stronger than the competition.
First steps to creating your brand
You want your employers, clients and audiences to understand:
- what you offer
- what you stand for
- what you believe
- where you are going
Strong brands that know themselves cut through the noise, are more trusted and have loyal clients… these businesses have higher brand equity.
5 key steps to creating a strong brand
- Strong visual branding. The visual aspects of your brand have a very powerful subconscious effect on how people perceive your business and how much they want to engage with you. It is important that it is impactful, consistent and fresh,otherwise it won’t do what it’s supposed to do.
- A call-to-action on the website. If you want customers to do something after visiting your website, you must direct them to what that is! It could be an easy contact request form or booking system for consultation. Whatever you choose, do it with your business needs in mind.
- Create flow to the user journey. Just because you understand the information on your website, doesn’t mean your potential customer will. You must guide them through the journey you want them to take in engaging with your content, through purposeful navigation and clear signposts.
- Clear, consistent sub-branding. Different formats where you represent your brand (such as product labels, business cards, website, social media pages, banners) require care in the details to ensure your brand is transferable while keeping the overall look and feel consistent.
- Strong, relevant imagery. As mentioned, visuals are very important to how people connect with your brand, and none more so than photographs and video. Imagery needs to be themed and brand-relevant (perhaps by planning key topics), as well as human, realistic, culturally up-to-date, and chosen and set in relation to the typography (fonts) and design.
You can see that there is a lot to get right when it comes to branding! What’s more, it is almost impossible to accurately assess your brand’s impact on your own, because you are too close to it. This is where market research and working with an external brand advisory can help you to get the real picture on what you initially thought was a ‘done’ brand. However as freelancers this may not be within your budget so asking trusted peers to review your branding can be a great source of support.
Showreel, Portfolio and website
Telling your brand story is also about telling your business story. People want to work with real people who they feel they have something in common with or who they admire. Telling your story – who you are, what you do and why – helps people to get to know you and to see where their values and passions align with yours. This is how people are choosing one competitor over another these days.
A large part of encouraging your target market to work with you is the online experience you create through visual elements and user design.
4 Key points to consider for online content…
- Showcasing visually engaging content embedded in intuitive and eye-catching design will set your business apart and create an experience that will both inform and delight.
When using images from past productions you have worked on, it is important that you have cleared the rights with the owner of the images/footage.
- Making it easy to find the information your future customer needs, with most important brand messages reinforced throughout, will make it much more likely they’ll click through to enquire or enquire further.
- Adopting a strategic design approach to your website creation will encourage people to remember and share your content, which means you’ll reach more people!
- Showcasing an engaging business story and fantastic products or services through great imagery, illustration, colour palette and design, repeated throughout your brand, gives people a strong impression or ‘feeling’ about your brand that is consistent wherever they connect with you.
You can use social media to find out what’s happening in the industry, whether it be following key people on LinkedIn or Twitter, or joining the many Facebook groups that exist by department and by region. Increasingly many job roles are posted in relevant Facebook groups rather than through formal advertising so these can be a vital source of opportunities.
Your social media profile(s) should be professional. Many freelancers have a professional profile for work and a private personal one for just this reason. Increasingly your social media profile can act as your portfolio.
Social media is a huge source of marketing potential for freelance and established businesses alike. There are too many mediums to name but here are a few handy tips to help you along your way:
- Keep your branding consistent across all formats. That means logo design, colours and fonts as a basic start point.
- Contact details should be the same across all formats
- Emails should be easily identifiable to you or your business name.
The use of hashtags is a source of confusion for most. Here are a few tips that can help you focus your efforts and bring more visibility to your work.
The most common mistakes people make when using hashtags include:
- Using too many – this can be annoying to your audience and say nothing about your brand if it’s too broad
- Using words that are too gimmicky – hashtags that might work for some brands will not necessarily work for yours
- Not specific enough to your content, product or service – it’s great to include hashtags that are searched by many, but if you don’t balance these with some that are more specific to your business, you will be competing with very large numbers
Instead, try these hashtag tips:
- Search Instagram for hashtags that have less than 500K following and choose some from there
- Choose some hashtags that are ‘unique’ to your brand – that audiences can start to associate with what you do
- Be aware of the optimum number of hashtags on different platforms: I recommend 3 for Facebook and LinkedIn, but 30 for Instagram!
- Peppering your text in Instagram posts to include some of the hashtags you’re listing can also boost visibility.
How to write a cover letter
Your cover letter accompanies your CV. If you are emailing a potential employer, write your cover letter in the body of your email. If you are applying for a job online, have it as a separate PDF. This is your opportunity to talk directly to the employer about why you want to work for them, so spend some time getting it right.
- Make sure you tailor your letter to each company or individual that you contact. Use the person’s name. Don’t write, “To whom it may concern.”
- You should adapt your CV and cover letter to fit the needs of each person you send them to. For example “ I understand that you are looking for a (insert job role)” or “you are recruiting a team for….. I am a (insert job role)”
- Show that you have researched their company, either by referencing their recent work or by making it clear you know the sort of projects they are involved in.
Try to keep your cover letter brief, and in three sections:
- Your reason for writing (e.g. “I am writing to apply for your vacancy in…”)
- Your selling points (skills or experience that show you have what the employer is looking for)
- A prompt for further action (e.g. “I’d welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss my suitability for the role…”)
Consider your CV as a window into who you are. A snapshot of your work experience and qualifications. It’s a chance to market yourself to potential employers and let them see at a glance how you might be able to help them. It’s up to you what you want to include in your CV and to decide what balance of personality and professionalism is right for you.
- Make sure you keep your CV concise
- No more than two A4 pages
- Try to use a clear professional layout and spacing.
- Check your spelling and grammar – and then check it again.
- Avoid using long sentences.
- Employers will be looking for skills, experience and any new ideas or insights that you can bring.
- For film and TV, your credits are your calling card so there’s usually little need for explanation as to the exact duties on each role.
- If you are starting out and, with few credits to list, it can be unclear what role you might be looking for so make sure it is clear in your personal statement.
Unless a specific format has been specified by the company, label your files in a clear way such as “first name last name CV.doc” and “first name last name Cover Letter.doc”: as companies often receive hundreds of applications, this will ensure they will find you quickly and your documents will always be filed together.
Most CVs will include:
- Your name
- Your contact details
- A short personal introduction (no more than 30 words describing yourself, your attitude, personal qualities, interests and key selling points)
- Your key skills (you can list these as bullet points and should include any software you are proficient in, as well as any languages)
- Your work history
- Your education, qualification and training
- You may also want to include whether you have a valid driving licence or other similar licences
- Current visas where applicable.