for creative entrepreneurs

Positioning Through Process

PinPoint Positioning is the foundation of marketing a creative practice. It’s defined by narrowly answering three key questions: “What you do,” “Who you do it for,” and “How that benefits them.”

But once you’ve established your PinPoint Positioning, there is a fourth element that can be added by answering yet one more question: “How you do what you do.” Your process can become a powerful addition to your marketing and sales process. It can also increase your profit margins to boot! But that’s true only if it’s a truly unique methodology derived from insights you gain from repeatedly solving similar problems.

The Problem of Ubiquitous Processes

When I find a process page on a creative entrepreneur’s website, it follows a common pattern. Step one: Discovery, followed by design, then production, and then some form of testing or evaluation. Most also suggest some cycle of iteration through this process. Essentially this boils down to: First we ask a lot of questions. Then we come up with ideas. Then we design things based on those ideas. Then we ask you what you think and go back to the drawing board if you don’t like it.

This process might be prettied up with a nice graphic, and perhaps augmented by unique labels, but essentially they are all the same. As a result, they don’t really serve to differentiate you from anyone else. Not only are generalist processes common, they are also obvious. Those are all necessary steps, and they have to be done in that order. Would anyone design first without asking any questions? Okay, maybe there are a few inexperienced freelancers out there that jump right to design, but do any of your actual competitors not get this?

Unique Processes that Validate Positioning

But if you establish a truly focused PinPoint Positioning, one of the outcomes is that you end up working on very similar projects with similar problems. And as you repeat your process you’ll begin to see patterns, and from these patterns you can begin to develop a truly focused and unique process, one that meaningfully differentiates you in your sales marketing. A truly focused process is a powerful differentiator and establishes trust early in the sales process.

Example from Cuberis

In addition to helping creative entrepreneurs master their marketing and other aspects of running a creative business, I have a creative practice of my own. Cuberis is a web design firm specialising in working with museums. Having done dozens of these kinds of projects, I’ve learned all about the particular needs of a museum website. With that information I’ve been able to build models, tools, and processes that maximize the value of the sites we build, as well as my margins, since I don’t have to reinvent the wheel on every project. If you’d like to see an example of how this works out check out these two articles about our process, Conquering The Illusion of Communication and Museum Design Workshop.

Effective Early Sales Calls

In addition to tailoring our process to the needs of museums, I’ve also been able to build a list of questions I ask during introductory calls with prospects. In a real sense, I’m able to complete the lion’s share of what we used to have to learn through “discovery” in these initial calls, because I already know most of the fundamental issues museum’s face. I’ve encountered many of the third party software solutions they have to use. I know about the various departments and audiences that they serve. And I have a deep understanding of the basic content types and relationships most museum sites will need to build.

This benefits my practice in so many ways. I can quickly qualify prospects. It radically simplifies my proposal writing process. It moves the remaining discovery process forward quickly. And I can re-use the tools and techniques from past experiences in new projects.

Clients Benefit from Truly Refined Processes

Client’s benefit from such focus as well. Right away, from our first phone call, a prospect’s trust rises since they hear me ask about all the right things—some which they themselves had not yet considered. They can see our past experiences doing similar work. And they hear solid recommendations based on their early input, without having to pay for my learning curve.

Contrast that to how they experience a call with a generalist firm, one that hasn’t done a museum site before. Such a firm might have the core skills necessary, and scads of raw design talent, but they will not understand all the relationships between exhibitions, programs, collection objects, and stories. They don’t know about the limitations of many of the third party transactional tools museums are stuck with. They don’t know which collection management systems have dependable APIs to integrate a collection, and which ones don’t. There’s a huge learning curve, and a museum who hires a generalist firm will have to bear the burdens and the risks of their learning curve. They might end up missing important requirements or underestimating many limitations because they don’t know what they don’t know.

Because of these risks, generalists almost always lose out to specialists when competing on the specialist’s ground.

When you lean into PinPoint Positioning, gaining specialized insights and expertise, your process will be refined leading to tremendously beneficial impacts for both your marketing and your margins. This is yet more reason to overcome your generalist positioning and move toward PinPoint Positioning so that you can get control of your marketing and build a profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable creative practice.

Are you ready to take the struggle out of finding new clients?