As we continue to power through 2019, we wanted to introduce each of our specialists that are part of the Marketing Clinic. From our Copy and Content Writing Specialist, Claire, our Marketing Specialist, Louise and our Graphic Designer, Alex, we can provide a range of marketing support and guidance to help you grow your business.
Alex, as the Graphic Designer that helps in the Marketing clinic, how did you get into it?
Having completed a degree in Film Studies in 2006, I quickly realised that I wasn’t going to be the next Stanley Kubrick. I took a job as Website Manager and Content Creator at a golf tech start up. I had video editing skills and the design fundamentals from my degree, and I was able to plug my gaps through training and experimentation. This allowed me to get a lot of experience very quickly on a wide range of creative disciplines, from print and digital design to animation, motion graphics and photography.
You moved away from general marketing and content creation to freelancing in Graphic Design, why?
I was always more interested in the visual stuff and I found it easier to design than write; I enjoyed the act of writing content but it was just harder with my dyslexia. I was being pushed more towards a Marketing Manager role in my former company after they went through a merger and restructure, which didn’t interest me, so I decided it was the right time to leave and set up as a freelance Graphic Designer. Turns out I could have picked a better time as two months later my wife announced she was pregnant! However, I have no regrets, as freelancing offered much more variety than working in the golf industry and much more freedom to spend time with my daughter.
I do miss the structure of corporate life sometimes, as I tend to procrastinate and pressure from a manager tends to focus the mind, but I certainly don’t miss the deadline pressure!
Why do you enjoy Graphic Design?
It straddles two disciplines; problem solving and being creative. It’s basically ‘creativity with purpose’. I enjoy helping people who need guidance in what they’re doing to help their businesses grow.
Why did you get involved in the Marketing Clinic?
As a new small business owner myself, I know the struggles people have and continue to have when they’re just starting out. I know that services like I provide can be quite expensive so it’s nice being able to help people gain a good foundation to start, so that when they are ready, they know the value of hiring a graphic designer to help grow their business.
I enjoy sharing my knowledge and giving people the confidence they need to be able to do what they need for their business. It’s also good to actually be around and talk to other people as I’m often staring at a screen/piece of paper in my day job.
If you could give other small businesses one piece of advice or one thing to get right in their business, what would it be?
You need to understand what the image you portray really says about you or your business. Consider how your choices reflect your brand, whether this is the logo, your brand colours, any imagery etc. There is a subconscious language that everyone understands but doesn’t always get right. It’s vital that you get the brand story right for your business. It’s useful to show brand elements to someone else to get their reaction. People associates specific colours or fonts with different brands and it might be you’ve created something someone might associated with a brand that already exist.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an expert?
It’s probably the same as everyone has; finding your feet when you start working for yourself and applying all the things that I know and tell everyone else to do and actually using that on my own business.
For the first year or so I redesigned my logo several times, simply because I could. This process helped me refine exactly what I wanted my logo to say about me but it also showed a lack of confidence in what I do and it’s easy to pin problems and failures on small things like ‘my logo isn’t right’. Deep down you know what you should be doing so have the confidence to do it.
That’s why the Marketing Clinic is good as it gives you a fresh pair of eyes, someone to bounce ideas off, something that isn’t always available when you work for yourself.
What’s your next business challenge?
Probably having the confidence to start specialising in exactly what I want to do. It’s easy to generalise as you believe you won’t get any work with specialising but that’s actually counter intuitive; refining you offering can actually bring in more work. Being the guy who does that one thing really well is the best marketing pitch you can have.
I’d ideally like to move away from website design to more illustrative design, packaging or logo design as your distilling down the essence of the brand into one thing. It’s more fun and interesting than web design!
Book your surgery now!
If you would like to discuss a project with Alex or one of our other specialists, Claire or Louise, then please join us at our next Marketing Clinic on 7th May (or the 1st Tuesday of a month) at Forest Farm, York, YO19 4RH.