Finally, I had it made. I had spent countless hours in lectures. I worked nights to submit my exam papers to the university in time. Finally I held my diploma as a graphic designer in my hands. From that point on I was available to the job market with all my expertise. I never wanted to work in an agency. Instead, I concentrated all my energy to build up a successful freelance job. University had prepared me well for the professional challenges of my upcoming professional life. However, useful knowledge for building a successful freelance job was not available. Because corresponding subjects were missing, I had to acquire the knowledge about the freelance job myself. That was quite hard in the beginning.
Survival in the shark tank
Now I was standing there. A report card with top marks, but no assignments. I knew nothing about finance, sales, business models or areas of self-employment. Because there is a lot of competition in the creative professions in particular, it is particularly difficult to gain a foothold in this industry as a newcomer. One reason is the relatively low hurdles for being able to offer your services on the market as a creative professional. A logo design requires neither expensive machines nor the approval of a professional chamber. I learned relatively early on that good market positioning, a strong unique selling point and a distinctive profile are of central importance for one’s own success.
Errors in the search for a promising market position
It took me some time as a young founder to recognize the power of positioning and unique selling points. In the initial phase of my freelance work, I always looked out for the others. What services do they offer? How are the services offered? I looked at marketing ideas that I liked and offered services that others also had. Looking back, this was a big mistake. I lost focus and had far too wide a range of services. In the course of time, services accumulated that were not really compatible with my own strengths. It was high time to revise my range of services, my strengths and my profile.
Market positioning takes time
An important realization was that I could not find my own positioning in a week. This does not just happen when writing a business plan. It is a long process that has to be constantly analyzed and optimized. It’s worth investing a lot of time in finding your own positioning and always fine-tuning your unique selling points.
Possible unique selling points
In the following I would like to present you a small list of possible unique selling propositions as a source of inspiration, which I created some time ago:
- Age and experience: As a career starter, do you offer new and bold ideas, or do you look back on many years of professional experience with many professional references?
- The offer: Do you offer your target group an interesting combination of different services that only few of your competitors can offer?
- Training: Do you have a degree from an accredited university, or have you completed an internship/training with a renowned mentor?
- Network: Do you have relationships in your circle of friends or acquaintances that can give you a clear competitive advantage?
- Vita: Do you have a story with which you are especially qualified for the task through haunting experiences? Example: You would like to supervise a project for an aid organisation and have already been a helper in the respective crisis area in your past.
- Price: Are you particularly exclusive and expensive, or can you undercut your competitors’ prices significantly and still be profitable due to lower costs or a sophisticated business model?
- Cooperation: Can you offer your customer a better service portfolio than your competitors through clever cooperation?
- Innovation: Are you offering something completely new that few (or no) competitors can offer apart from you?
- Business model / method: Do you offer your customers optimized methods, processes, business models with which they can save time and money?
- Addressing the target group
Are you known for your ability to understand and address a specific target group particularly well because you can identify with the target group yourself?
Such a list invites you to optimise on all fronts at the same time. Everyone wants to be innovative, have a sophisticated business model or a first-class resume. Personally I found it much more target-oriented to work out only a few unique selling propositions (but clearly). Too many unique selling points can make communication with the target group much more difficult. True to the motto: “If everything is equally valid, everything is indifferent”.
As a freshly qualified freelancer, I had a lot of problems at the beginning to find the right positioning for me. Even today I am still working on my positioning as a freelancer. It is probably a never ending process. In some of my projects I could already achieve a very good positioning on the market. For example with my Icon-Store, in which I, as the largest German provider, offer and sell thousands of icons. The unique selling proposition of being the “largest German vendor” is a significant boost to success. Maybe I will succeed in a similar positioning some day with this blog. In any case, I will keep my fingers crossed for you in your search for the right positioning. I hope this post helps you.