Meet Marty Daley, an Australian freelance graphic designer with three strong passions: Promotional products, his clients, and Jesus, his savior. Marty is a prime example of a graphic designer who differentiates himself by combining industry-specific skills with outstanding customer service.
Hi Marty, what's your niche?
Creating promotional product mock-ups and logo redraws for the promotional industry in Australia.
Why did you choose promotional products as your niche?
I simply have a passion for it. Transforming an unbranded promotional product, be it a humble white t-shirt or a USB stick, into a branded product with someone's logo or design on it captures me every time. The perfection required, the industry itself and my keen willingness to serve my clients is why I chose the promotional products industry as my niche.
The story really starts back in 1991 at the age of 14. I started working in a screen printing factory which serviced the promotional industry. I was somehow hooked and addicted to the industry. So after design college and spending a few years working for a few advertising and pre-press companies, I realised my passion remained with the promotional industry. Fortunately I worked as the in-house designer back at the same screen printing factory from 1999 to 2002. During that time I learnt a truck load of industry tip and tricks. I also formed great relationships with many Sydney promotional companies and other decorators. I left the that company and started my business 2 years later.
How did you break into promotional products?
There was never a break through moment. Fortunately it was a natural transition into the promotional industry.
I didn't have many hurdles to overcome when making the promo mock-ups and logo redraws as my niche. Relationships and industry knowledge were already well established since the age of 14. I started my company (Marty Daley Graphic Design) when I was 27. That was 10 years ago.
What’s your most successful way of getting clients?
Word of mouth and being apart of APPA.
APPA is the only professional trade association specifically for the promotional products and promotional marketing industry in the Australasian region. Being involved and serving the leading industry association (and it's members) has been paramount, if not, 100% critical to the success of getting and maintaining clients. Without APPA, it's members and attending their yearly trade shows, I don't think my company would be as strong as it is today.
Top 3 things clients are looking for in a designer in your niche?
Perfectionist: Accuracy is paramount. Mock-ups and redraws have to be 100% correct first time, every time. A job can't simply “look good.” It has to look great PLUS it must be production ready/printable with no nasty surprises when it comes time to be printed. All possible risks must be removed. A designer should ask the following questions for every job: “is this artwork printable?”, “is the black 100% black or RGB black?”, “are the fonts converted to outlines?”, “are there any hidden layers?”, “will the next person who opens this file be able to perfectly print from it?”.
Client's want you to remove every risk that is associated with the successful completion of every job. Being a perfectionist helps you to trouble shoot and execute perfect promo mock-ups and logo redraw every time.
Industry knowledge: Clients want you know the industry back to front and inside out. You must know the products, different decoration processes and all their unique limitation. And as new technologies, processes and products arrive to the market, you need to keep educating yourself. Knowledge is king.
Speed: Clients want you to be able to turn jobs around quickly. I personally treat every job as if it is urgent – regardless if the client says it is or isn't. This industry is plagued with end clients leaving jobs to the last minute. So being able to reliably return completed jobs quickly (and perfectly) is a must.
What’s your personal USP in this particular niche?
Clients choose me over my competition because I can reliably deliver what they have requested – quickly, accurately and with no fuss. And when something pops up which needs addressing (e.g. a client changes their mind or an error due to misreading a brief), I quickly resolve the issue.
- Speed (10-30 minute turnaround)
- Years of industry knowledge
- Up to date software and hardware (Adobe, Apple and Wacom)
- Always contactable
- 100% Australian
- 100% focused on serving the Australian promotional industry
- 1 point of contact (100% Marty)
- Never, ever, ever outsource
- Providing solutions to my clients problems
Are there any disadvantages working in your niche?
If you want to be actually “creating” logos and coming up with advertising concepts, this niche market will only make you frustrated and creatively dry. Why? 99.99% of jobs are simply placing logos and text onto a promo product or tracing a low resolution logo.
Where do you think your business would be today if you hadn't specialized?
Who I am as a designer, the way I operate as a designer and what I enjoy doing as a designer has been 100% centered around creating promotional mock-ups and logo redraws. So you can imagine picking this as my niche has been critically important. I love this industry. And hopefully the industry loves what I do.
My business would be not as strong if I had not have specialized. I would be frustrated as I would not be focused on doing what I do best and enjoy.
In which other ways has choosing a niche affected you as a professional?
It has helped me to sharpen my skills to perfect the art of creating mock-ups and logo redraws. It means I am not concerned with chasing every job that comes my way. It also means promotional companies contact me for advice on problems (both printing and design) that have arisen due to their printers or other designers making mistakes. I come in and identify the issue, provide reasons why the issue occurred and ultimately provide details on how the problem can be solved.
In a humble way I hope I have become an authority on all things relating to promotional mock-ups and redraws. I will be first to say I don't know everything, but I certainly have experienced many things to help others remove risks and provide solutions.
What advice would you give a fellow freelance graphic designer about to choose a niche?
Find your 1 passion. Make sure you are extremely good at it. Make sure you get better and better at it. Make sure you love it. Then make sure everything you do centers, revolves and springs from that 1 passion. Never choose a niche because of money. Choose it because you are passionately AWESOME at doing that 1 thing.
Finally, if you had pick another niche than promotional products today?
I have a heart for the lost and a desire to make the gospel of Jesus Christ known to the world. I am currently illustrating bible talks and presenting them to 5-6 year children at my local church. I would love to do that on a full time basis.
Not sure what to specialize in yet? Read Finding Your Niche: When Graphic Design Really Pays Off, or check out more examples of graphic design niches!