Making an Ass out of "You" and "Media"

There is an old adage that I have kept with me for a long time now: "Dress for the job you want and not the job you have".  This has helped me a great deal in the past to get promoted, climb the corporate ladder, and generally move forward in past career positions.  That said, I am learning more and more that it shouldn't be taken at face value.

There is a caveat required for "dress for the job you want" in order to be effective in today's world (most especially with regards to design and marketing).  Historically, it has been assumed that you always promote yourself (or your business) by putting your best work on display to represent your brand and what you do.  Well, it isn't quite as straight-forward as that anymore.  This article is designed to give a cursory overview of basic steps to consider before deciding on a direction for promoting yourself or your business so you can better dress your brand for the work that is going to be most profitable and enjoyable for you.


STEP ONE:  Design Your Ideal Client

Start at the very beginning by taking time to outline the kind of clients you want to work with.  What are the key characteristics of your ideal client?  Here is a small sample list of possible characteristics you may want to have in a client:

  • manufacturer
  • medium-sized
  • non-profit
  • organized
  • private
  • professional
  • public
  • punctual
  • responsive
  • service-based
  • short-term focused
  • small
  • start-up
  • tech-savy
  • artist
  • casual
  • community-centric
  • consumer-based
  • corporate
  • design-literate
  • detail-oriented
  • experienced
  • friendly
  • hands-off
  • hands-on
  • large
  • local
  • long-term focused


STEP TWO: Determine Your Niche Offering

Once you have determined what kind of clients you want to do business with, it's time to think about what type of work is going to make you happy overall.

Most profitable?  Most enjoyable?  Highest-profile?  Here's where you need to do a bit of soul-searching and figure out what makes you tick.  You may think that you want to make as much money as possible, but why?   Maybe you're trying to increase your standard of living so you can be happier overall but you may end up finding that it's better to have work you enjoy doing with people that you like working with (even for a lesser overall income) and that is what might get you to your bottom line with greater ease and less convolution.  

It's also important to consider what it is you are most experienced in or what you are best known for.  You may have a wealth of projects representing magazine layout work but maybe your heart-and-soul has always gone into corporate branding projects.  Those are the pieces that you want to put out into the world.  At the risk of seriously paring down the amount of work you choose to showcase, you may be better off showing less work samples if they are more in line with the core of the work you enjoy and what you hope to get in future work.  Clients will see the work you make available and determine what you are an expert or seasoned reference for.

It's tough to resist the urge to take on any and all work that comes your way but keep in mind that while you're working on that project that is driving you to hate your job, you are taking time away from a much more enjoyable project that you may be far better suited for.


STEP THREE: Put 'Em Together

You have figured out who you want to work with and what you want to do.  Now, take the best example of work you have that represents the work you want to do and lay it out in a way that will attract the people you want to work with and start promoting the hell out of it!  It's as simple as that.  Not rocket science (unless your business is building rockets) but often an overlooked process.


Who and What Now?

Who are your ideal clients?  What are the parameters of your niche product or service?  I'd love to hear if you have gone through this cursory process before and how it helped shape your business and more importantly how it shaped your life.  Are you just being introduced to this idea now?  If so, have you been able to apply this to your business?  How did it work out?

Thanks for connecting!