In the creative industry, perhaps more than any other industry, it’s important to stand out from the crowd.

Potential customers or clients will be looking for something different, and the way you present yourself is a way of demonstrating your creative talent to them.

And for freelancers and new startups, building a strong profile is vital to bring in more business and greater opportunities for growth.

Research by the Creative Industries Federation found that 54% of creative businesses use their reputation and profile as a metric for growth, and one in ten say it’s their most important growth measure.

That’s easier said than done in a sector where most business owners are used to thinking outside the box, but there are a few areas you could focus on.

Invest in innovative projects

One way to stand out from other businesses in your field is to develop something that’s genuinely new.

To do that, you need to make the strategic decision to invest your business’s time and resources into that project.

This kind of activity is also incentivised by the Government, through research and development (R&D) relief.

The relief is available for projects in science and technology, but that doesn’t limit it to tech companies.

You could qualify if you’ve made an advance in photographic or image-editing technology, for example, or in video game development.

Small companies that qualify for SME R&D relief can deduct 130% of their R&D costs before corporation tax, on top of the existing 100% deduction.

This is one of several tax reliefs that could be available to businesses in the creative industry, and it’s worth checking whether you qualify for any others.

Use new technology

Even if you’re not developing it yourself, new technology can provide your business with the tools to do something different.

Developing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly have a role to play in marketing and advertising.

According to a survey by CRM company Salesforce, 29% of marketeers said they used AI “extensively” in 2018, up from 20% in 2017.

Meanwhile, a few arts and media businesses are already taking up the creative potential of virtual and augmented reality, with the UK’s first virtual reality theatre having opened in Bristol earlier this year.

It’s also important to focus on the way you use technology within your business, such as automating processes that don’t need to be done manually – for example, using real-time accounting software – or storing and sharing data efficiently through the cloud.

Find a niche

Your point of difference might not be the product or service itself, but who you’re targeting and the way they experience the service.

Targeting a niche means you’re not competing with as many businesses, but it also gives you a chance to focus on who your ideal customers are, and how your business can appeal to them.

Look at what your business does well, compare that to what your competitors are doing, and analyse the kind of customers you want to attract. That should give you the foundation for a strong brand that offers something distinctive.

Keep changing

Finally, it’s important to keep an eye out for changes in your market, and to keep up with your customers’ changing expectations. Be ready to try out new ideas, products, or ways of doing things.

All of this is much easier to do when you’re not dealing with immediate day-to-day issues. Changing your processes so that you’re spending less time on manual tasks should help you focus on where your business is going in the future.

We can help

At Evans & Partners, we combine decades of experience with innovative thinking to help people grow their business, and do more of what they enjoy.

We specialise in working with the media and creative industries, and can provide expert advice on running your business and understanding your finances. Contact us to find out more.