Designer finding her onlyness

What if clients found you instead of you looking for them?

What a topsy turvy world. It’s the perfect time to question how and what you do. In fact, it’s the perfect time to question every activity in your business.

So, let’s look at new business. What if clients found you instead of you having to find them?

If clients found you it must mean they have clarity about what they want from a design partner. Better than that, they’ve identified your business has what they want. And it’s fair to say that clarity probably flows to better, more articulate briefs.

If clients found you it may mean they are a good fit for your service. The research done before approaching a design partner means they are buying with intent. They’ve assessed your offer against other creative businesses and chosen yours.

If clients found you it may mean better jobs — less high-volume transactional sales and more thoughtful, problem-solving projects. It’s fair to assume they are searching for a relationship with a like-minded design partner. That may mean they have a long-term, rather than a short-term view of the relationship.

If clients found you it may mean better budgets and timelines. Could be they’ve had unsuccessful relationships previously and asked themselves if they are part of the problem. Clients like that are not after a quick fix, they’re more likely to be after a long-term solution to a complex problem.

So, how can clients find you rather than the other way around?

For clients to find you you must be visible in the places they look. And there must be absolute clarity about your offer and how that differs from others. Why they should choose to work with you. In short, your onlyness. Your superpower.

And that doesn’t mean you must offer something others do not. It just means there is clarity around why you do what everyone else does, but only better.

It may mean you are better at building relationships — making a connection with another person. People buy from people they like.

It may mean you have a proven ability to create value and you’ve documented how on your website or LinkedIn profile: in articles, in case studies and in testimonials.

Put simply, for clients to find you rather than the other way around, your onlyness must be articulated and demonstrated.

A case study

Use DBC as an example. Our onlyness is our ability – using past and current experience, and research – to help designers build profitable businesses.

We do that in three ways:

  • by advising how to get better clients
  • by increasing a team’s productivity
  • by helping build a sustainable work/life balance.

That’s our onlyness.

We don’t teach strategy, like Jim Antonopoulos. If you want to learn how to write strong, succinct strategy, he’s your guy.

We don’t focus on how to sell design. If you believe your key to success is via sales, Blair Enns is the man. He has a proven track record of helping creatives sell their product or service.

And we don’t work overseas. We don’t know the US market like David C Baker or Emily Cohen. We do know the Australian market better than anyone else. It’s where we founded and ran a successful design studio for over 30 years and it’s where we’ve since mentored literally hundreds of design studio owners and managers across Australia. We know the statistics and we also know the stories behind the numbers.

What we do is help design studio owners find their onlyness.
That builds clarity around their offer.
And that makes it easier for them to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
That makes it easier for clients to find them.

Take away

In a perfect world clients would beat down your door with fists full of money requesting your services. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world but nor do we live in a ‘business as usual’ world. Now is the perfect time to question what you do and how you do it and we’re the perfect advisers to help you do it. Because we help designers build a more profitable creative business. (See what I did there?)

What do you think? Got any problems/questions? As always, happy to discuss further, just email.

Carol Mackay

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About Carol Mackay

After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, Carol pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry.

Carol’s special power has always been an ability to use design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages. She believes design brings clarity to complex issues. From clarity comes understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.

As a designer she used those skills with clients like The Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts; Ombudsman schemes and Emergency Service agencies. At DBC she uses the same skills … she helps designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.

Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is a Board member at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.


An archive of Carol’s previous career is at
Current work can be viewed at and

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