Help! Do I need a specialization niche for my graphic design business?

niche,marketing,specialization,graphic design,business,creative

Dear HTWB Agony Columns

I have a small graphic design agency and I have been trying to work out how to grow the business, get larger clients and bigger projects. I’ve been told by people, much more experienced than I am, that I must find a niche.
More precisely, an industry niche.

How do I decide which is the best niche to aim for? Should I look back at earlier clients and projects and see what was most successful? Or should I choose a niche that I would enjoy working in I’ve worked with lawyers and accountants, but the projects are pretty serious and not much fun. Restaurants and food are my one great love and they really bring out my best creative skills. It seems logical that choose an industry that I enjoy, as long as it pays well. Right?

I would like to see your thoughts. Thank you so much!

Carolyn from Baltimore

Hi Carolyn

I work in a similar creative capacity and in your shoes I would be very careful of aiming for an industry niche.

Say you were to specialize in graphics for restaurants. How long would it be before a prospect decides against using you, because you’ve done design work for one of their competitors?

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I like best about our independent way of working is the variety. One day IT, the next day financial services, the next day FMCG, and so-on. It’s the variety more than anything that keeps me on my toes and keeps the old creative motor running.

Despite how much you love food and restaurants, do you not think you might go a bit stale on those after a while of doing nothing but?

If you’re going to go for a niche, would a business type or size perhaps be better … an area of specialization that still contains quite a bit of variety? You could try specializing in graphic design for SMEs, medium-sized businesses, family businesses, or perhaps a more general industry area like leisure, retail or hospitality – although despite the fact that Baltimore is a big city, with those you may still be perilously close to working for clients’ competitors again.

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,HowToWriteBetter.net,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurAnother form of niche in which you could specialize would be related to marketing activities or media – e.g. PR, print, web design, WordPress sites, branding, etc.

Anyway, do be careful of getting caught on industry specialization. Because there was a good demand for it, I wrote scripts for several years in the car industry here in the UK. I worked for GM, BMW, Fiat, Honda, Mitsubishi, MG-Rover, LandRover, Jaguar, you name them.

That was all fine and dandy until one day a producer turned me down for a scriptwriting job for a financial services company. He thought I could only write about cars. And he was quite puzzled when I pointed out that (at the time) what I specialized in was not cars, but scriptwriting…

Good luck and I’m sure you’ll make the right choice for you!

What does everyone else think? What advice would you have for Carolyn?

While you’re here, stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family (don’t forget the Holiday Season is here)…

 

Comments

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Thoughts

  1. Without restricting your business potential you could address niche markets by writing blog posts for particular markets. A series of blog posts aimed at the ‘niche’ areas would enable you to be in several different niches, and also help you keep your interest in what you are doing!! Also means you can change your niches as business dictates.

    Aiming for a single niche might seem a good idea. I’m in a niche market and I can tell you that at times it can be difficult to keep the business moving and attract new clients! A number of niches within your area of activity will mean you can divert your attention to ones that are bringing in the work.

    • Thanks for that, Robert – it’s a great idea to use blog posts or series of blog posts to point at discrete niches. It might be trickier to split off new signups to Carolyn’s mailing list into those different niches, though, and as you know that’s an important element within online marketing too. What advice wold you have to help Carolyn qualify her signups so she can allocate them correctly?

      • With my monthly newsletter I could if I wished ask subscribers to identify an area of interest which would be used to divide the mailing list between different areas. Maybe Carolyn would be able to do something similar. Leaves a bit of an issue on what to do about those already on the list, I realise.

        I use my email newsletter to direct readers to recent blog posts so they can choose the ones that appear to be of interest. This would be another option. Let the reader choose from the available topics, rather than force them into a pigeonhole as their interests and needs might change over time.

        • Well, that’s very relevant, Robert. I think it might be useful for Carolyn to monitor all current needs in graphic design – or at least the needs she can meet efficiently – and perhaps keep a watching brief on those which will help determine which niche or niches she should be looking at now and in the future.

          Since blogging has become such an integral part of online marketing I have a feeling that the humble eNewsletter has been forced to take a back seat, which is unfair and probably a mistake. eNewsletters and blog posts can, if used correctly, work together and make a huge contribution to the marketing mix.

          So thanks for bringing these points to our attention – hope Carolyn will tune in soon and see what we’re saying!

  2. nice article!
    i also need simple design and a spesific niche for graphic design

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