Episode 196: 4 Ways to Position Yourself as an Expert Designer and Strategist

October 6, 2021

If you’re feeling uncomfortable or insecure about how you’re positioning yourself as an expert for your clients, what’s holding you back? In this episode of the podcast, I’m sharing four steps that you can take to begin to position yourself as an expert designer and strategist!

Whether you’re looking to build confidence as a designer or call yourself an expert, it all starts with better understanding your clients, believing in yourself, and marketing yourself to your clients.

Building Confidence as a Designer

As designers, we’re creating from a very vulnerable place, by bringing our client’s a vision to life. This can be challenging, especially as a new designer.

This puts a lot of pressure on us in addition to the competition we face with the mass amount of other designers in the industry! To remove this insecurity and build confidence, we must first understand what it means to be an expert designer and strategist.

What It Means to be an Expert Designer and Strategist

The term “expert” is often glamorized into something it’s not—what does it actually mean? It’s easy to believe that only a handful of people in the industry get to use. The reality is that there are so many opportunities and fields of expertise that we can consider in the industry. You may be more skilled in one area than other designers.

Stop looking to other designers and industry peers for validation of your expertise. It’s so important that you look at what you can offer, know your strengths, and recognize how brightly you shine on your own.

How to Position Yourself as an Expert

Validate Where Your Ideal Client is Struggling

When you can communicate the answer to the struggle that you’re ideal client has, you hold the key to understanding what services you should offer and how to convince them that you’re the solution to their problem. Not only does it help your navigate their problems, but you’re also able to identify your ideal client.

Show that Transformation is Possible

When someone comes across your work, you don’t just want them to see you someone who shares that they’re a solution, but they need to be able to see examples of the transformation you can provide for them.

Leverage the Results that You Have

It’s so effective to market yourself as an expert if you’re letting your past clients sing your praises. If you have a past client that you took from pain point to solution, leverage that testimony.

Use it on your website, highlight the case study in a blog post, share the testimonial on your website and social media.

Take Yourself Seriously

The way you view yourself and carry yourself will impact the way potential clients view and respect you. This step may feel overly simple, but it’s important to stop downplaying your work.

If you don’t act like you believe in your work, how are they supposed to respect your knowledge and value. Believe in every single thing you say you are!

Join the Free Training

If you’ve enjoyed this episode and are ready to position yourself as an expert, kick insecurity to the curb, and triple your income as a designer without taking on more design clients, I have a free training just for you!

Head over to bisforbonniedesign.com/training to grab your seat to this free class for brand and web designers.




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Hi friends and welcome to the brand strategy podcast. A show created to equip you with the inspiration, encouragement, and clarity. You need to build the brand of your dreams. I’m your host, Bonnie Bakhtiari rain designer, strategist and founder of the Lumetri from sustainable strategy to part felt encouragement. Each episode is designed to equip you with the tools you need to chase after your dreams, because you deserve a brand that empowers you to do what you love, connects with your dream clients and offers a deep sense of fulfillment along the way. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on this journey. Won’t in,

Hey friends, welcome back to the brand strategy podcast where today’s episode is one specifically for my fellow graphic brand and web designers, where we are talking about some specific ways that you can position yourself as an expert designer and strategist. So fellow designer, if you’re tuning in today and you struggle with feeling a hundred percent confident in yourself and the work that you do and the way you’re positioning yourself, especially when you’re chatting with potential clients. Like if those are feelings are thoughts that start to come up in those conversations. First of all, you’re not alone. Um, over the almost 10 years that I have been an educator for fellow designers and strategists, I hear so often Bonnie, how do I position myself as an expert? How can I provide more value and charge more for my services and actually communicate that in a way that my clients are getting it.

And I hear this questions all the time and I totally totally get it. If I’m being honest. I think that a lot of this boils down to confidence as designers, we constantly feel a lot of pressure, right? Like the work that we’re doing as designers, we’re creating from a very vulnerable place. And a lot of times where we’re taking our client’s vision, we’re taking their ideas. We’re taking sort of the, the initial brief of the project. And we are using our skills. We’re using our, our brains and our, uh, our hearts even to create actual, beautiful strategic designs that, that are meant to be exactly what the client’s looking for. And that can be challenging, especially if you’re a newer designer and you’re just building your portfolio, right? Like that can actually be a really intimidating process. So as designers, we, we feel a lot of pressure.

I think we feel a lot of pressure to not only create like the nature of the work that we do. There’s a certain amount of pressure to it. But then on top of that, we are faced with the pressure of, um, essentially competing with a massive amount of other talented designers. Our industry is constantly growing, which is amazing. But, um, if you’re a designer who is feeling like, how am I supposed to stand out when everyone else can do what I do? And they do it maybe even better than I do it, right? Like, Hmm. We can get stuck in a lot of, and a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings. So today I want us to have an open and honest conversation around what it actually means to be an expert designer and strategist. And whether you really believe it or not like if you’re tuning in today, whether or not this feels real to you, I want you to know that you actually can kick imposter syndrome to the curb.

You actually can experience a deeper sense of confidence in your work and how you position yourself as a designer. And today we’re going to talk through four things that you can do to step into that truth, that you are an absolute expert at your craft. So let’s get into it. Now, first, I want you to know that, that term expert, right? Like we’re talking about how to, how to position yourself as an expert. We’ve to kind of normalize a little bit what that means. I think we need to, um, really just identify what it’s all about rather than thinking that it’s something that’s not. So it’s easy for us to believe that calling yourself an expert or being viewed as an expert is a title that only a handful of people in the industry actually get to get to use. Actually, everyone can be an expert in their own area.

You might be the go-to gal for typography. While another designer specializes in a very niche, subset of strategy, someone else might be like an expert and show it website design. While another person is just killing it with e-commerce Squarespace sites. Like there’s so many options and so many areas where we can shine. Now, there’s so many different ways where we can Excel in our own unique ways as designers. And so I think it’s important for us to recognize how brightly we shine on our own without looking to others for constant validation. If you’re going to step into this, this spotlight of positioning yourself as an expert, I want you to believe it for yourself. I don’t want you to do that. Only, only when someone else or a bunch of someone else’s kind of gives you the green light. Like I want you to start that journey for yourself, and I want it for it to come from a place, uh, that originates within you.

So when we get caught up in what other people are doing, and we feel like we don’t measure up, we often kind of shrink ourselves more. We start to kind of like withdraw a little bit and like, not maybe talk about the work that we do. We’re not like post examples of our work online as much because we see how far they’re going and we kind of wonder, well, why should I even try? Like, what’s the point, right? But friends, if you want to position yourself as an expert to your ideal client, you have to believe it first, when your ideal client views you as an expert that they can depend on, they are trusting you. And that amount of trust allows you to take charge of the project to guide your clients through your process with authority. So now that we’ve kind of like laid a few ground rules about, you know, what it takes to be an expert let’s, let’s get into kind of the nitty gritty, some more of how you can actually make that happen.

So step number one, we want to validate the pain points that you solve. So the first way to really position yourself and kind of lay that groundwork to position yourself as an expert is to validate where your ideal client is struggling. So when your ideal client comes across your work, no matter where that is, whether it’s on social media, your website, wherever you have the opportunity to make them feel seen and understood, you’ve got this amazing chance to tell them that you see them right, where they are and that the struggles that they are experiencing are easily solved. And on top of that, you have a solution that can help them move through those struggles or bypass them all together. So they can go on their Merry little way towards achieving the success that they are dreaming about. We want for your ideal client to know that they’re not alone to let them know that there is a way to get through each and every one of the pain points that ailed them.

And they, you are the person to guide them on that journey. Now, when you successfully communicate that, you know, your ideal client, so intimately to the point where you can see what’s standing in the way of their dreams, they ultimately feel a connection to you. Have you ever landed on someone’s sales page or their services page? And they have a section where like, you’re here because you’re thinking dah, dah, dah, or you’re here because you’re stuck with X, Y, and Z, and you’re reading it. And it’s like, your mind is blown because you’re like, oh my God, how did they know? How are they in my brain right now? So aware of my thoughts and my fears and my, you know, emotions around this subject, that’s because they did their homework, they did their research. And they understood that with their target demographic, who you just happened to, you know, fall into the, those are common pain points.

And so when you read it as a consumer, you feel seen and you feel connected. And you’re like, I want to know more about what this person is selling because they get me there in my brain. And that’s crazy. So we want to do a similar thing with your clients as well. We want for someone to kind of come to your website and think finally, someone gets it. Someone understands. And not only do you understand who your ideal clients are, but you understand how to help them navigate through those deep struggles you are holding the answers. You’re, you’re basically standing there with the key to what they have been searching for all along. So step one, we want to validate where your ideal client is struggling. So that step two, we can show them that transformation as possible. We want to build on that first step by showing them that transformation is right around the corner, and you are the person to guide them along the way.

So when someone comes across your work, we don’t want them to just feel seen in the sense of, Hey, I see where you’re struggling and I get, I get these pain points that you’re wrestling with. And then just like end the conversation there, right? That’s not very helpful. What we want to do is we want to show them that we understand their struggles and that you also know the way out. Like I see where you are. I see what’s standing in your way, and I can show you towards the solution that you’re searching for. This is your chance to show your potential clients, the kind of transformation that you can deliver. Um, this is actually a method that I teach in my totally free masterclass on how to triple your income as a designer, without taking on more branding clients. So shameless plug for that, you can go to BS, Rabbani design.com/training to grab your free seat to that.

But let’s look at this as an example of this idea of showing that transformation is possible. If a potential client comes to you and they’re struggling with a brand that no longer represents them, it’s like something that they’ve out grown. It’s your job to communicate the solution that you can provide by creating an intentional custom visual identity. If they come to you and they’re like, Hey, I’ve outgrown my brand. You can say, wow. That’s I mean, not great, but you’re in the right place. Because as a designer, I can create a completely custom strategically designed identity for you that will reflect not only who you are and where you are currently, but that will grow with you for years to come. So the more detailed a picture you can paint of the transformation that you provide for your clients, then the more confidence they’re going to feel on their decision to hire you, right?

If you are feeling that emotional connection, um, from someone who, or with someone who can identify where you’re struggling and can speak those pain points to you and show you, Hey, I see, I see you and validate that. And then if you pair that with the kind of confidence and trust, that can be inspired when you see, oh, wow, this is how they can guide me out of this or how they can help me through this or how we can nix, you know, these struggles altogether like that is magic. So then the third step we want to take is we want to leverage the results that we have. And we want to do that because it is so, so effective to market yourself as an expert designer or an expert strategist. If you’re letting past clients sing your praises for you, we want to leverage results that speak for themselves.

So instead of simply stating the kind of transformation that you can provide to your clients, let’s take it one step further and get your past clients involved in the process too. So if you have a past client that you take from the land of pain points to now being able to confidently market themselves through a beautiful visual brand that you designed, that is a glowing testimonial, that is just waiting to be shouted from the rooftops. I want you to gather that data and gather that feedback from that client, post their words on social media. Talk about it on your website, write a blog post, featuring their full brand reveal, treat it like a case study. Let those results, explain how your clients benefit from their choice to work with you and allow your past clients testimonials to do the heavy lifting for you. Cultivating that trust and that confidence with potential leads.

We care about capturing these powerful testimonials because they create social proof, which is so incredibly valuable for your business. And this allows for your past clients to actually influence potential clients by showing them the transformation that they have experienced from their decision to hire you. And that transformation that your past clients have experienced is, is it’s meant to be in alignment with the transformation that you are promising, or that you are painting a picture of to your potential clients and the leads that are coming your way. So step number four, this four-part process is to take yourself seriously. This might seem overly simple, but just hang with me here. If you want to position yourself as an expert, you want to take yourself seriously, the way that you view yourself directly influences the way that potential clients will view you. So similarly, the way that you carry yourself directly influences the degree to which potential clients will respect you.

So if you don’t view yourself as an expert, and so you are hesitating to address yourself as one you’re, you know, kind of like stumbling over your words or your really, really downplaying, like you’re, you’re taking self-deprecation to a whole new level on a sales call with a potential client. You’re this person is going to feel a lot less comfortable hiring you, right? Because if you don’t believe in your work, why should they believe in your work? Like if you’re not hype about what you do, if you’re not hype about yourself, how are they supposed to be hype about you and what you do? Uh, if you see that they’re starting to see you as self-conscious and hesitant, um, you can understand why they might be a little bit nervous to invest, you know, thousands of dollars in working with you. So what we want to do instead is we want to believe that we are everything we say we are, I am such an advocate of genuine relational marketing and messaging.

I want always be exactly who I am online as I am in real life. So when people meet me, it is the biggest, biggest compliment that I can receive. When they say you are exactly the same. I am so excited to connect with you and to, you know, meet you at this conference, because I feel like I know you already, right? And that’s exactly how we want for our potential leads to feel as, as well. We want them to not only feel like they know you, but we want them to feel that alignment with the way that you’re positioning yourself and the way that you’re following through. Um, and I want you to be believing that about yourself too. Ultimately, we’re doing this because there’s so much value in cultivating your own confidence so that you can step into the role of expert in your business.

And I believe that you already have all of the know how all of the smarts, all of the skills that you need to do that. So if you’re wanting to position yourself as an expert designer and strategist, we want to shift that mindset. We want to believe that you are the expert that you know yourself to be. I know how easy it is to fall into that trap of imposter syndrome, but front just don’t listen to it. Um, I read something recently that really resonated with me, and it’s this idea that our mindset is just like any other muscle. It’s not some abstract concept. It’s this muscle that we can, uh, work and we can strengthen and we can flex and we can use over and over and over again. So if it posture syndrome is something that you’re struggling with, I encourage you to focus on how you can cultivate a routine that supports a mindset that is rooted in confidence and is rooted in self-awareness and is rooted in abundance as well.

So don’t listen to that. You know what you’re doing, even if some pesky insecurity tells you otherwise own that and own it confidently, I promise that it’s not only going to transform your life, but it can truly transform your business too. So friends, everything that we’ve talked through today is, is, you know, boiling down to confidence, right? We’ve talked through a lot of practical how tos, but ultimately if confidence is something where you’re wanting to grow and you’re wanting to cultivate that more, it’s going to be a powerful foundational tool to help you step into this season of viewing yourself as an expert and positioning yourself as one so that you can connect with your ideal clients consistently. So I would encourage you to think about what you can do to support yourself in this journey. I mentioned this earlier in the middle of this episode, but if you’re dreaming about positioning yourself as an expert designer and strategist, then I actually have a totally free on demand training on how to triple your income as a designer, without taking on more branding clients.

And in this training, I talk you through how you can charge more for your services, so you can experience consistent income, how you can kick that imposter syndrome to the curb and continue to position yourself as an expert. Just like what we’ve been talking about today and how you can get out in front of your ideal clients without hustling to be seen on line. And if that has got you so excited for this free training, you can go to BS for Bonnie design.com/training and grab your seats to this free class specifically for my fellow graphic brand and web designers. And as always, if you want to dive into any of the notes from today’s episode or see any resources that were mentioned, you can always go to the podcast website at brand strategy, podcast.com and click on the latest episode link, where you can grab all of these resources in the show notes as always.

I’m so grateful for you. I appreciate you being a part of this little community. And I am so grateful that we had this chance to hang out in this way. I appreciate when you tune in, it really means so much to me. So friends, I hope you’re walking away feeling encouraged. I hope you’re walking away with some actionable idea that will help you take intentional action towards growing your design business. And I hope to see you grabbing your free seat to that training that I’ve created just for you as always, I’m cheering you on from Waco.

Thank you so much for joining me today, friend, before you go, I would be so grateful to receive your feedback on the brand Shazzie podcast. If you enjoyed this episode or the podcast in general has helped you grow your brand and really appreciate it. If you left us a review in iTunes, your positive reviews enable the brand strategy podcast to continue to grow and reach like-minded creatives. Just like you. Plus, I’ll be randomly selecting a handful of lucky reviewers each month. Receive a little, thank you. Surprise for me in the mail. Thank you for all your support and encouragement as together. We pursue building brands with purpose and intention, and till next time I’m cheering you on from Waco.

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My name is Bonnie – I’m a brand designer, strategist, and writer which all adds up to one eclectic conglomeration of qualities that enables me to serve you well! Past clients have dubbed me "the Joanna Gaines of brand design," and I've had more than a few call me a dream maker, a game changer, and a design wizard (my Harry Potter-loving heart didn't hate that one, let me tell you!). At the end of the day, I'm a big-hearted creative who will get teary-eyed as you share the heart behind your business; who will lose sleep over the perfect font pairings and color selections to bring your brand to life visually; and who will work tirelessly to empower, encourage, and equip you to share your work with the world intentionally. 

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