In an interview with AdAge, Modelez’s Director of Global Strategic Agency Relations, Debra Giampoli, gave her top tips for small agencies looking to net a big client.
And netting bigger clients is a challenge all agencies face at one point or another.
We all come to the conclusion at some point that the best route to growth is not more clients at the same prices, but fewer, bigger clients. Once you’ve landed them, these big fish can act as a commercial building block, influencing smaller companies and partners, and lending credibility to reel in major deals.
The question then is, how do you attract a large client, without the prior experience?
Debra Giampoli’s advice?
1. Have a story to tell
2. Articulate your offering
3. Make yourself visible
4. Don’t expect a meeting to lead to an immediate assignment
5. Don’t be a general agency with a mediocre offering
All good pointers. And all ideas that can – and should – be matched with quality content.
Let’s look at those five pieces of advice and how content can help each.
1. Define your narrative
Giampoli suggests your business should have a story to tell, above and beyond a simple creds deck; the why and the what of what you do. We would go one step further and say you need to establish and develop a business narrative. And the most powerful thing you can do is to engage in thought leadership.
Don’t just tell your audience that you’re great, but offer up engaging content that illustrates why you are unique in your field and proves your expertise to your market. We’ve mentioned this before, but agencies sell the invisible, and it’s your thoughts that give a potential client something to grasp hold of.
As well as creating case studies, outlining some of your best work and the results that you’ve driven, you can comment on news that is relevant to your clients and your industry, starting a conversation and promoting your experience.
2. Go beyond editorial content
Content touches every part of what you do and how you present yourself. There are obvious editorial areas of focus like blogs, social media and newsletters, but there are also messages delivered by account management and business development, as well as sales materials, that you might more traditionally associate with departments outside marketing.
These are actually critical points of contact formed by content.
Whether it’s a flyer, an introductory email or a banner at an expo, your content is telling your client about your brand and articulating your offering. What tone do you strike and what do you talk about? The most important thing is to have a coherent strategy for your narrative.
Whether it’s a flyer, an introductory email or a banner at an expo, your content is telling your client about your brand and articulating your offering.
Decide how you talk about your company and ensure that business development, account management and social are all on the same page, using the same messaging. If account management is using an FAQ, tie that into your core content area. Let your biz dev team know about research and articles the company is creating, and then, if relevant, they can share these with prospects.
3. Right place, right time
Getting your thoughts and messaging in front of the right decision makers is key, but also much trickier in a large business. Added to that is the increasing number of stakeholders and decision makers involved in agreeing to take you on. You’ll need to develop a new customer persona for larger businesses, who will come with their own unique set of drivers and pain points, which may very well be different to those of smaller firms.
Relieve this pain with content, answer their questions and set a strategy for delivering it to them. Giampoli urges you to make yourself visible. Content is not THE answer, but it’s certainly part of the answer. Find reasons to network with these bigger clients, reasons to share their work, and reasons to share your relevant, original thinking with them.
4. Bridge the gaps
When Giampoli says to be patient with bigger clients, we couldn’t agree more. The lead in time is extended massively as budgets and decision makers increase. BUT, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proactive: content can help you keep in touch without keeping in touch. A social share here, a newsletter there; subtly drip-feeding information through to big leads is key. Don’t send them anything, and certainly don’t send them everything—make sure you’re being relevant and helpful—but make intelligent use of the information you have available to stay front of mind.
5. Define your niche
Don’t be a general agency with a mediocre offering. Absolutely. And following on from that, don’t create generic, ‘me too’ content that simply adds to the noise. Always consider the value that you’re providing for your audience. Creating generic content that they could find anywhere will irritate them, while creating irrelevant articles will actively repel good leads. Instead, aim to deliver specific, insightful articles that exhibit the very best of what you do.
As you grow your business, you’ll want to develop your niche. What services is your business most competitive in, what do you do best and what drives your profitability? As you carve out a space for yourself in the market, the narrative that you are building should focus on this space.
Ultimately, big brands command respect based on prestige and financial clout, and when allocating budget they naturally want a guarantee of good performance. An effective content strategy, can allow you to overcome that hurdle, initiating dialogues and proving the strength of your offering.
One thing Giampoli is absolutely wrong about? Don’t create newsletters. She clearly hasn’t read ours.