Marketing Mistakes Creatives Make & How to Avoid Them

As creative entrepreneurs, it is part of our job to market our small business. I know, I know, sometimes even I groan too — it can be difficult and overwhelming, no doubt about it. There are some nuances you have to remember when marketing your brand. Not to mention, the pressure is real to stay on top of the latest trends and algorithms. It doesn’t make it any easier when we find conflicting advice online, along with hard-to-decipher data we receive from our analytic tools.

In my years as a business strategist and entrepreneur, I have done a ton of research for best practices to grow both Carrylove Designs, as well as my clients’ businesses. And, even though the market is constantly changing, I have some no-nonsense, expire-free tips on how to get your marketing strategy off the ground.

Today, we’ll go over three marketing mistakes I commonly see entrepreneurs making and how to avoid them. Plus, we’ll talk about a two-part process for how to start growing your business today without falling into these marketing pitfalls.

Creative entrepreneur marketing mistake #1: Trying to be like everybody else.

Marketing Mistake 1: You’re trying to be like everybody else (AKA your competition)

This particular marketing mistake is fairly common, especially during the early stages of growing your small business. I get it — when you see another successful entrepreneur, inevitably, you’ll want to follow in their footsteps to replicate that success for yourself. However, this will only work for so long.

In the long-run, you’ll only find the success you want when you’re able to harness your differences. (Jot that down and stick it on your mirror to remind yourself of this every day while you’re working on your business.)

This can often be easier said than done, though. Especially if you’re at the beginning stages of your business and maybe still figuring things out, like your brand voice. So with that being said, let’s dive into that two-step process I mentioned earlier. This process will help you niche down so you can level up your business and stand out from your competition.

Part 1: Make your offer unique to target your ideal client

The first step in this two-step process is to craft an offer that you’ll base your service on to attract your ideal client. Let’s take one of Carrylove’s clients, Jenni Engel, as an example.

Before we started working together, she was known as a “natural, heartfelt photographer.” While this sounds nice, it doesn’t actually explain much about who she serves or exactly what niche she falls into. When we went through the Signature Experience together, we uncovered more details about who she wanted to work with and where her heart was in the world of photography. After figuring out her ideal client and where she wanted to corner the market, we re-branded her as a, “documentary photographer for foster and adoptive families.”

Now when potential clients land on her website, they know exactly what she does and who she serves — there’s no confusion around her offer, which positions her in an advantageous spot among her competition.

Part 2: Don’t be afraid to get into the specifics of your offer

After we established Jenni’s niched offer, she put together a unique offering made with her ideal clientele in mind and called it the Exclusive Membership. This membership includes a years-worth of photos since adopted and fostered kids don’t always have any photos or keepsakes with them. By offering this membership and going into the details of what it entails, she can target more of her ideal client because this is exactly what they’re going to be looking for.

So the bottom line? Niching down can give you the power to craft an irresistible service, and you’ll be able to book your ideal client more often. If you want to read more about how to craft a brand message, this YouTube video goes into more detail about how to do that.

Creative entrepreneur marketing mistake #2: Not making your message simple.

Marketing Mistake 2: You’re not making your messaging clear and simple

Have you ever heard the phrase, “confused customers don’t buy”? Whenever a potential client is confused about what you offer, what your message is, or who you serve, they’re more likely not going to take any action. Basically, confusion = inaction.

To solve this problem, some market research is in order. By researching what your ideal client is saying and searching for, you can brainstorm on how you want to craft your brand messaging to meet those pain points.

Pro-tip: Join Facebook groups within your niche to do market research

A simple way to figure out what your ideal client is searching for is by joining Facebook groups within your niche. How are people in this group asking or looking for someone like you?

To go back to the example with Jenni Engel, most people who are looking for an adoption photographer aren’t asking for a “natural, heartfelt photographer.” They’re more likely asking, “does anybody know a photographer who can document our adoption day at the courthouse?”

This question will bring Jenni Engel to mind for anyone in that Facebook group because she is clear on what her offer is and who she serves on her website. Not to mention, because she’s using top keywords in her brand message, her website will also appear when someone does a quick search on Google.

Creative entrepreneur marketing mistake #3: Investing in marketing with zero return.

Marketing Mistake 3: You’re investing in marketing platforms that don’t show a return on investment (ROI)

OK, before you roll your eyes and say, “duh!” hear me out — especially if you’re a wedding professional.

More often than not, I run into a wedding professional (mostly wedding photographers) who pays for a membership with The Knot or Wedding Wire, which can require a $6,000 investment. Unless you have actual proof that you got at least double your return on your investment from their services, then you’re throwing money down the drain.

How to check your ROI:

  • Go back to your 2019 statements (probably not 2020 because we all know what a dumpster fire that was, especially for the wedding world).
  • Check, for example, $12,000-worth of business that came to you from The Knot or Wedding Wire.

If you can identify double the amount you invested in any platform, that’s amazing and that lead is definitely working out for you! But if you’re not, it’s time to put your marketing budget elsewhere.

Pro-tip: Use your inquiry forms and booking questionnaires to pinpoint where your clients are coming from

Adding the question “where did you find us?” or “how did you hear about me?” on questionnaires you send to your clients can help you target what platforms are worth your time and marketing dollars.

For example, Carrylove Designs spends a lot of time on Instagram, and that’s because we know a lot of our clients come from Instagram. It’s a good use of my time since it results in good ROI.

Ready to start taking your business to the next level today?

We covered a lot of information about how to grow your small business and what marketing mistakes to avoid. I’m now curious to hear from you: Have you made any of these mistakes? How are you going to move forward with your marketing strategy?
And if you’re not sure where or how to begin, I would love to get on the phone with you and chat about how I can serve your business! My goal is to help you make more money by doing what you love, and that starts with a well-thought-out strategy. Let’s chat!

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brand and Showit website design studio for creatives.

I am an award-winning website designer, brand strategist, and community leader. I help take our clients' visual brands to the next level. I am passionate about design and believe pairing a beautiful brand aesthetic with an intentional website strategy is the cornerstone for success, booking clients effortlessly, and creating a delightful online experience.

Founder, Amanda Shuman

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