Marketing Strategies From The Top: “Focus on existing clients, not just new ones” With Jessica Freeman of Jess Creatives
Focus on existing clients, not just new ones. Business owners are always focusing on getting more sales, increasing revenue, bringing in the next big client. But, what if we focused on serving our existing and previous clients more? Marketing to and serving those who already trust you is much easier than constantly chasing new clients. For example, as a web designer, I offer website maintenance to past clients, which helps them, and brings in recurring income to my business.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Freeman, the award-winning designer and owner of Jess Creatives. Jess Creatives exists to help health and fitness business owners save time, stress less, and shine online with a professional, consistent visual presence that increases their brand value
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been a creative person, and decided in high school that I wanted to pursue a career that was related to art or design. I hadn’t ever heard of someone being a graphic designer, but my dad told me about it, and as a 15-year-old, I decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I began doing freelance design in college, mostly for friends and family. I received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in graphic design, and was lucky enough to get a job in my field right after graduation. I worked for two years in the corporate world, before I quit and began focusing on my design business full-time.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
A few years ago, I happened to see a tweet at just the right time, and it resulted in me being able to do a freelance design project for Chick-fil-A! Most of my work is focused on helping entrepreneurs and small businesses, but I couldn’t turn down the chance to work with Chick-fil-A. People sometimes doubt if social media can really benefit their business — but it’s always been an asset in my business.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first began the Twitter account for my business, my first tweet was about a Christmas sale on my photo sessions (something I offered early on in my business). I wasn’t following anyone, or even engaging with others on Twitter. I remember being disappointed a few days later when still no one had contacted me about booking a photo session. Since then, I’ve definitely learned a lot more about marketing (and how Twitter works, ha!). The biggest lesson I’ve learned in terms of marketing is that you have to provide value and warm up your audience. It doesn’t work well to just throw out random offers and expect a big wins to come from it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My approach with my clients is very educational. One of my first website clients hired me because her previous website designer moved to another country, she couldn’t login to her website, and she didn’t know how to do anything on her website. Hearing her frustrations made me think about my client process, and I asked myself how I could make it even better. I decided that making sure the clients have ownership of everything, and are equipped to update and manage their own website, was the best route. My clients don’t have to contact me if/when they want to edit pictures or text on their information. Some people think I’m working myself out of some money by doing this, but I look at it as setting my clients up for success.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Well, besides client work, my podcast, and my YouTube channel, I’m also developing a new program for my audience. People wonder I how juggle everything as a one-woman show, and have maintained a consistent client waitlist for the last four years. It all boils down to my content marketing and social media marketing. My new program will coach people through how to do this same thing in their own business, without having to run ads.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?
Everything began to shift in my business when I began blogging in 2013. It was how I began to show potential clients that I knew what I was doing. But things really took off in 2016, because I started a YouTube channel and a podcast. My audience was interested in podcasts and videos than videos, and it built a know, like, and trust factor much faster. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t let fear hold you back. I was so resistant to being on video, but I would have missed out on so many clients and brand partnerships if it weren’t for my YouTube presence.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
For me, the key to avoiding burnout has always been boundaries. I set boundaries with my work hours, but also with what I work on and who I work with. There are so many ways to create content, and you don’t need to do them all — so if you hate blogging, don’t do it. Creativity and consistency flourish when you are doing the things you truly enjoy.
How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?
To me, marketing is connecting with your audience where they are, in a way that resonates with them, to show them about your services and products. So many business owners think of marketing as just broadcasting their message as much as they can, in as many places as they can. But, it goes so much deeper than that, if you want your marketing efforts to be fruitful. We have to understand the psychographics and desires of our customers for our messages to resonate with them and see an ROI on our marketing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Hands down, my husband has always been the biggest encouragement behind my business. When I was still just running my business on the side, there was a time that I wanted to quit. We were living in a new city, so I didn’t know many people, and I was drained by my day job. Instead of letting me quit, he helped me push through that season. He’s not an entrepreneur, but he’s helped me brainstorm new products and services, get the right equipment for video and podcast recording, and fine-tune my client on-boarding process. I know that many women struggle with having unsupportive husbands who doubt their business, so I’m always grateful for his support and insight.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?
One of the first tools that I love to recommend to small business owners is SmarterQueue, which can automate your social media. I think it’s important to still be social and engaging on social media, but it’s also important to be consistent. With SmarterQueue, you can create a library of content that is relevant to your business and your customers, and that content is recycled over and over. When you have hundreds of pieces of content in your library, it’s easy to post consistently each week, and it’s unlikely that many would notice the redundancy of the posts.
Zapier is another powerful tool that I think is really under-utilized. With Zapier, business owners can connect platforms and apps together to automate processes on the back-end. For example, you could have new Facebook Page posts shared into a Slack channel, or automatically have new Asana tasks created when you add something to your Google Calendar. It can help you save time in so many different areas of your business!
What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?
1. Focus more on engagement than posting. As marketers, we think a lot about producing content on all the various platforms. While that’s still important, too many business owners forget about building relationships with their followers. Every time I have gotten a client from Instagram, it’s been because I genuinely engaged with someone on their own posts. For example, I responded to one woman’s Instagram Stories a few times, and as a result she hired me and featured me on her podcast!
2. Educate your clients. It can be tempting, as a business owner, to keep all of your knowledge to yourself and only pass it onto paying clients. While I do think some information and strategies can be saved for clients, I think it’s also useful to educate your audience and potential clients. Creating educational content can help you be seen as an authority, and build more of the know, like, and trust factor. For example, a boutique store owner could create videos on different ways to style certain items of clothing.
3. Narrow your focus. Part of the risk of running a business can be a fluctuating income. To avoid that risk, some business owners will try to market to everyone, and say yes to every client. But, when you narrow the focus of your services, you can create more tailored services. When you narrow your target market, you can create a more clear message. For example, when I narrowed my target market to health and fitness coaches, I was able to start creating really niche content.
4. Focus on existing clients, not just new ones. Business owners are always focusing on getting more sales, increasing revenue, bringing in the next big client. But, what if we focused on serving our existing and previous clients more? Marketing to and serving those who already trust you is much easier than constantly chasing new clients. For example, as a web designer, I offer website maintenance to past clients, which helps them, and brings in recurring income to my business.
5. Utilize story, not data. Data is so much easier to share, partly because research is readily available. While sharing data and technical details are important, story is what draws people in and evokes emotion. People’s buying decisions are more influenced by their emotions rather than facts. For example, marketers highlight the lifestyle and status of luxury cars, instead of listing off all of the nuts and bolts inside the car.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’d love to see a movement of people pouring into the next generation — more than great teachers and after school programs. But, what would it look like if every child had a mentor, outside of their family, who spent time with them, and gave them new experiences? What would happen if more adults bought books for kids down the street? I believe we have the power to influence the next generation and help them win.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” ― Erin Hanson
I’ve taken a lot of big leaps in my life — going to a college in a different state, moving across the country after college, starting my own business. I’ve never been much of a risk-taker, and I’m the only entrepreneur in my family. But, I’ve learned that the richest experiences can happen when you get out of your comfort zone. And, even if you fail — you still learn, and still get to have a new experience.