Getting Press Exposure For Your Design Service

When it comes to marketing your freelance business, the telephone and the internet are likely to play an instrumental part in your overall strategy. But they are not the only media available to you. Newspapers and trade magazines can offer an alternative route to potential clients.

Newspaper advertising
Although newspaper adverts can be expensive and don’t guarantee instant responses, you can use them to play a ‘primer’ role in your overall marketing strategy.

If a potential client notices your advertisement in a trade newspaper, he or she is unlikely to make a mental note of your contact details. But if your advert effectively communicates your business offer, the reader’s awareness of your service will be primed for recall later on. So if you follow-up with a telephone or email campaign, you will get the most out of your advertising.

Indeed, the most effective marketing strategies synergize different forms of media. People who are already familiar with your business (because they have seen your name) are more likely to respond favorably with a targeted follow-up.

So for the huge ocean of unknown contacts, newspaper advertising can create a buzz of awareness which you can exploit later in a telephone or email campaign.

It can work like this: Submit consecutive advertisements into a trade magazine specific to the industry sector you work in. Then rent the newspaper’s data list, and phone or email people on the list. Your previous advertisements give you a prestigious angle for your opening pitch: “You may have seen our ad in Packaging Times…”

So advertising can work as part of a larger, multi-faceted marketing strategy—in the same way as you can combine direct mail and telephone prospecting, sending teaser postcards to high-status contacts and following up with a call.

Press releases
Newspapers can offer a more effective and cheaper way of getting exposure. Why pay for an ad when you can have a news feature for free?

Up to three quarters of the stories in most trade magazines are made up of press releases. If you have an interesting story to tell, a press release will help get you noticed by journalists and editors, giving you the chance of gaining free exposure.

Maybe your design contributed towards a breakthrough marketing campaign. Maybe you have learnt something smart about designing within a particular industry sector. Maybe there’s a story behind your step into the freelance circuit. Or maybe you offer a desirable level of service.

If you have been involved in anything your target clients might find interesting there’s an opportunity for a story, and all the business exposure that comes with it.

When you sit down to plan your marketing strategy for your year, it’s a good idea to allocate specific months for a timely new story. This is particularly important if you notice regular periods of downtime at certain times of year.
For example, if business typically slows in the summer you could plan to send a press release in June, and spend the preceding months working on an activity to inform your news story.

It might be better to plan your news story around your target clients. If you work in a sector which sees annual conferences or exhibitions, these are good times to submit press releases as readership figures increase directly before and after the event.

Your news story should appeal directly to your most likely clients. So if you design in the packaging sector, buy a few copies of Packaging Weekly or Packaging Today (or your local packaging-specific trade journal), and see what kind of stories get printed.

Then ask yourself, what activity can you perform that will make for a timely and interesting story for this readership? Can you conduct some kind of research (e.g. into effective packaging design)? Can you describe an appropriate case study (e.g. designing a new type of packaging)? Can you reveal an interesting trade secret (e.g. the packaging industry’s favorite packaging designs )?

Integrating press release into your marketing plan can help to lift your exposure just when you need it to. And if reinforced with persistent telephone prospecting, the newspapers can offer a valuable avenue for marketing your business.

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The above article is adapted from Shaun Crowley’s new book The Freelance Designer’s Self-Marketing Handbook, available for download at

The Freelance Designer’s Self-Marketing Handbook shows you how to:

  • Develop a persuasive business offer.
  • See your best ever results from prospecting.
  • Write a hard-working website.
  • Get your business into the newspapers.
  • Build a reputation as ‘designer of choice.