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Last week The Basement was graced with an array of creatives who wanted to learn more about successful marketing strategies. ‘Marketing to the clients you want’ was a free workshop hosted by Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce as part of the Ride the Wave programme offering support for creative industries.

As a student journalist I was highly intrigued by this event. If I decide to go into freelance journalism at some point, ‘marketing’ myself would be paramount, so I thought I could get a few tips and meet some people along the way. Before the presentation I had a chat with freelance web copywriter and web editor Helen Keevy.

When asked why she came to the event, Helen said: “The subject appealed to me because I’ve got to the point where I need to move on to the next stage and target my marketing a bit better. I feel I’m doing a bit of a scattergram approach at the moment so I’m hoping it’s going to refine my marketing strategy and make it a bit more focused.”

The presentation was lead by Adrian Swinscoe, a marketing consultant and coach in business and team performance. His light-hearted and humorous speech was punctuated with anecdotes and analogies, allowing us to easily digest his advice.

Adrian highlighted that marketing is in a changing context. Broadcast marketing used to be the norm but now we live in a world where people skip TV adverts, unsubscribe to spam and throw away post. Google is the new high street, internet advertising is through the roof and customers have a greater choice to make informed decisions.

That is why it is so important to gain your customers’ trust as this drives transactions. It’s less about forcing people to buy and more about building a relationship with the client to gain their trust before they buy.  This way, repeat business and referrals are more likely as happy customers will spread the word.

Adrian said that we need to respond to the changing media landscape with content marketing. This means putting information on websites which helps you get found and is useful to people. It is a matter of getting the balance between standing out (being interesting) and offering something of value to the customer (being interested). Trust comes from the latter, so we need to do more things to earn people’s confidence.

When it comes to marketing there are three Ms: market, message and medium. Many businesses do this the wrong way and start with the medium by buying flyers etc, but first you need to find out specifically who your audience is and what you offer.

Adrian demonstrated the Ms with some example websites and blogs, one of which proved that it doesn’t matter how good your work is as long as you can market effectively and satisfy the client.

Richard Wolfstrome, an information graphic designer at the event, ran us through his own portfolio website but most of his work comes from networking, referrals and collaborative working.

said: “When I go to network meetings I try and find that one person I want to work with, and if I find one contact at every meeting that’s really useful. Building relationships is a huge part of what I do”

“What’s beginning to happen is clients will phone me up and ask me to work on a project which is great because I’m not going out looking for that work – they know who I am and they’re coming to me.”

Then we all had a go at filling out our one page marketing plan which got us to think about who are clients are exactly, what problems we solve for them, what makes us unique, what proof we provide and our marketing tactics.

In Adrian’s conclusion he emphasised that when using SEO you shouldn’t assume the language you use to describe your work is the same as the language your potential clients use. Using ‘Stat Counter’ can reveal the specific search terms people use so that you can refine your tags on your blog or website.

After the event, Lucy Davidson, an illustrator said: “I learnt that I need to narrow down my skills and not try and do too many things at once.”

Amy Brown, a fellow illustrator, said: “The speaker was really lively and informative whilst being quite informal. I think I already knew a lot of it but it was just really nice to hear someone say it all in one go and really confirm the key points that I need to be practicing.”

I learnt that you don’t need to have too many different marketing components, just do one thing and more of it, whether it’s regular blogging or networking. Even if you’re swamped in a job, make the time to go to networking events, as you may meet that one person that could help you go further.

Blog post written for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce: http://www.businessinbrighton.org.uk/blog/marketing-clients-you-want