Lead generation for value-based design

Right after people join my email list, ConvertKit redirects them to a survey and I ask what questions are on their mind. Sometimes I answer those questions here.

This one was submitted anonymously:

What is the best way to begin lead generation? Because my field (value-based design) is somewhat esoteric, writing about it feels targeted more towards other designers, rather than the clients who will actually benefit from my practice.

Slightly-snarky-version-of-the-answer: find a way to preserve what is exciting and valuable about value-based design while making it comprehensible and relevant to clients who will actually benefit from your practice, and you’ll almost certainly have found the best way to begin lead generation.

I know that’s answering a question with a question. 🙂

But that finding-a-way-to-make-it-comprehensible thing really is the challenge here, isn’t it? Especially with stuff that isn’t commoditized.

If something is well understood by most of the market, then there’s a good chance it’s also commoditized. If it’s commoditized, then you need to get good at delivering volume and quality at what the market considers a reasonable cost.

It can be easier to generate leads for a commoditized service/skill (because the market already understands it), but then you have to deliver that commoditized service profitably, which is challenging because of downward price pressure.

If something is not commoditized, then you need to get good at helping the market understand and value it. As you can see, you’re choosing which challenge you’d rather have.

I think that’s what your lead generation should look like: helping your market understand and value value-based design. Don’t worry about whether they hire you or somebody else to do the value-based design for them.

Instead, just make it your mission to help the market (not all buyers everywhere on the planet, but a specific niche market) understand and properly value value-based design. Keep in mind the temptation to think about your peers when you’re doing this, and work to avoid this temptation.

Some specific lead generation approaches to consider

Let me end with some lead generation approaches to consider.

A self-published book could be good. It took me about 3 months of part-time effort to write and publish the first edition of The Positioning Manual. It was great lead generation. I know others with similar stories, so don’t think of a book project as a monumental years-long thing. Fast, lean, and dirty are acceptable, I think, on any first attempt at something.

An email list could be good. It’s more fluid and iterative than a book. Less intimidating. Instead of having to overcome the temptation to write for your peers just once during the outlining stage, you’ll have to overcome it every time you write, at least until you get in the habit of writing for your buyers. Growing an email list — if you’re not Corey Quinn — can be challenging. Some ideas that might help: https://airtable.com/shrc6Ji9596kzsPFV

Something that uses your voice could be good. A podcast, a youTube channel, or some other usage of voice or video to teach could be good.

No matter which of these you use, you’ll have to solve the bootstrapping problem that all innovators have to solve. I ain’t gonna lie. It’s not easy!

Some ideas for this bootstrapping: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/indie-experts-list/indie-experts-6-models-for-sellin-transformation/

Good luck, anonymous questioner!