Doing Business as a Designer: The Hunter and Gatherer Mentality

Posted on June 11, 2010


In my last post, The Reality of Sales and Marketing, I highlighted what is to be expected when getting new business so that you don’t quit. Now let’s look at the mentality behind the tactics.

The Hunter – Short term rapid efforts – Active – Finding Opportunity

  • Calling
  • Face-to-Face Sales
  • Bidding on Contracts
  • Direct Emails
  • Direct Mails

The Gatherer – Long term planned efforts – Passive – Farming Opportunity

  • Advertorials
  • Blog Posts
  • Social Networking
  • Face-To-Face Networking
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Websites
  • Business Cards
  • Lead Generation
  • Web Pages
  • Design Work You Did for Clients
  • Pay-Per-Click Ads
  • Link Exchanges
  • Passing out fliers
  • Mailing Campaigns
  • Email Blasts
  • Twitter
  • Link Building
  • Word-of-Mouth

For startup design business owners, being the hunter will get you clients faster. Sending emails and calling is the majority of what you are doing to get new business. It’s cost effective (no money involved) but time expensive (at least 8 hours a day).

Being the hunter in the early stage will get you results that help you determine what works and what doesn’t work in your sales efforts, and fast. Knowing these results will help you communicate more effectively.

However, being the gatherer lessens your hunter efforts by having interested parties reaching out for your services. Your website and business cards are some of the tactics that are low cost and will bring you business in the long term.

“Should I balance the two approaches, 50/50?”

No. Each market has a set of competitors that use a unique combination of tactics to get business.

For example:

While observing your market, you notice that your competitors are using social networks, Twitter, and blog posts everyday to get business and web traffic.

Here are some options for this scenario:

  1. Compete directly with them and do the same thing
  2. Use paid services to out stand out even more
  3. Use direct response tactics such as calling businesses directly
  4. Form advertising partnerships, lots of them

If you choose 1, it will be an efficiency game. Do it faster and better.

If you choose 2, you’d better know your market very well to get a return-on-investment. To manage your risk, you must research. Be careful not research until your blue in the face though. Also, if you have never used the service before, anticipate that you will be testing a lot.

If you choose 3, there is very little competition here. You are only limited by your abilities and time of day.

If you choose 4, make sure to have your terms well thought out before proposing. Your company’s exposure can be multiplied if you choose the right partners.

Be sure to schedule each day, a mix of these approaches. You must be hunting and gathering at all times, even if you have big design projects.

Keep your sales pipeline filled so you have opportunity coming constantly.