It can seem daunting building up a healthy client list, but as a creative agency owner you’ll be under no illusion that growing your customer database is crucial to the survival of your business. So, how exactly do you pursue a potential client? A steady stream of converting customers will ultimately see you progress towards your overall company vision so having a robust approach is essential. But, not all client acquisition methods are created equal! In fact, there are certainly some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid to maximise the opportunity for success.
In today’s blog, I’ll be sharing the right and wrong way to pursue a potential client. With over 30 years of experience within the industry, I’ve certainly seen my fair share of client acquisition models! Of course, this isn’t to say this is a black and white guide - you may well find some tactics work for you. However, by drawing upon this extensive guide you can avoid some of the common pitfalls and leap ahead of your competitors in the market.
Where might you be going wrong?
#1 Casting the net too wide
It’s tempting to try and appeal to everyone - why wouldn’t you want to target as large an audience as possible? But, inevitably it’s impossible to please everyone and in fact, it can be far more damaging to try and do so. You need to be clear about who the ‘right’ client is for you - without this crucial clarity, you won’t be expressing what you do in a way that attracts this target audience.
If you pursue a potential client that isn’t your right for you, you may be actively pushing your perfect customers away. Why would your target audience work with a generalist when they can work with a selective specialist? Your fear of not engaging with all potential clients can see you miss the mark! Remember, highlighting your niche can see you become a premium service, in-demand for the impressive results you provide.
#2 It’s not all about selling
Sell, sell, sell - it’s drilled into us when trying to pursue a potential client. Of course, you want to try and avoid being overly ‘salesy’ - there’s nothing more off-putting! But, try not to step around the topic. Make the offering clear and detail exactly why your company is the solution. But remember, a large part of client acquisition is actually building up brand recognition.
The first time a client sees this message they may not have a specific requirement, but the more they view your advertisement the more likely they are to utilise your services when the need arises. Invest in relationships rather than hard selling - whilst you may have fewer connections, they will be of far higher value.
#3 Be transparent about who you are
Of all the potential things you can get wrong, this is perhaps the most pivotal and can underpin your hard work as you try to attract the right clients. It’s easy to end up looking inauthentic! And, nothing scares potential customers quicker than them feeling as though you’re not being truly transparent.
It’s tempting to try and imitate brands that you aspire to be like and certainly, you can draw upon elements that you find appealing. But, remember to be true to who you are as a business - what sets you apart from the crowd? This is what your customers want to know, not how you are similar!
Pursue a potential client: The 5 key steps you need to take
#1 Identify your ideal client
As we’ve already discussed, you need to find your niche. In essence, this means defining your ideal client and exploring every detail to get to know them inside out! Make it crystal clear. As a result of this defined image you’ve curated, you’ll be able to develop targeted strategies that see you convert potential clients into customers.
No one wants to have their time wasted, so the more personal you can make your message the better. Know your client!
Top tip: Think about where your target audience ‘lives’ - will they be using online resources? Or, do they prefer traditional print? If you are prioritising the wrong platforms, you won’t have access to the perfect client.
#2 Don’t pitch, have a conversation
Sales has a bad reputation. These negative connotations tend to derive from ‘hard selling’ that commonly involves a scripted speech and false promises. To get that elusive ‘yes’ as you pursue a potential client, you need to have a conversation - it’s a two way street!
It’s easy to talk about yourself and it seems counterintuitive but you should aim to listen more than you talk. As a result, you’ll have added value to your potential client rather than just listing off features or services that are not relevant to them.
#3 Pin down what you offer
It’s hard to get someone excited about what you have to offer if you aren’t excited yourself - nor if you don’t have a thorough understanding of your products or services! It might seem obvious, but you need to know your product or service from every angle before you begin having these sales conversations.
Anticipate what your target audience might ask and prepare concrete answers. Remember, one of the best ways to pursue a potential client is to utilise storytelling. Share real life examples and highlight what you're offering - it’s a powerful method to convince your audience they need you.
Top tip: Part of knowing your products is knowing your competitors too! Dedicate time to regular research to stay on top of what else is happening in your market.
#4 Be prepared for the unexpected
It’s impossible to plan for every question. Often, creative agency owners are met with tough roadblocks such as ‘I don’t see the value in this for our business’ and the challenge is offering counters that actually emphasise your value. It can hit you off guard and this is the last thing you want when speaking to a potential client.
Whilst it’s difficult to foresee these unexpected scenarios, you can plan and develop answers that can be adapted to any situation. Preparation is key - as they say, fail to prepare and you prepare to fail! So, try to put yourself in the position of your potential client and consider where you may be faced with some backlash.
#5 Follow up
Often, sales are lost at the very close - those last few steps over the finish line become almost impossible. It’s important to not overlook the latter stage of the process as you pursue a potential client. In fact, this could be considered the most detrimental part of the conversion journey.
You may think you’ve built a solid relationship with a client but, once they walk away it’s easy for them to put you to the side and forget about the value you could have added to their lives. To remain at the forefront of your target audience’s mind, you need to follow up and provide additional information at pivotal decision making moments.
Of course, the question then comes down to how do you do this successfully? A large majority of sales people will tell you the follow up is the make or break. Following up is a sure fire way to enlarge your customer base, so try these simple steps:
- Personalise your approach by sending specific examples and referring to your prior conversation.
- Ask the right questions to move the process along: ‘When can we get started?’ or ‘Shall I send over a contract for you to review?’
- Avoid overly chasing by providing key information such as brochures etc. as promised (always make sure you deliver on your prior conversation!)
It’s clear to see there are several ways to approach client acquisition and certainly, some methods will provide better results than others. Of course, this isn’t a clear-cut rulebook! But by avoiding common pitfalls, you can ensure the time and effort you put into expanding your customer database is not wasted. As a creative agency owner it can be difficult to find the time to reach out and have these valuable sales conversations, so it’s crucial each has an impact and the potential to successfully convert.
Customers are the very lifeblood of an organisation, so dedicating time to nurture and pursue potential clients is crucial to the success of your creative agency. With 25+ years of experience in the industry, I can help you develop a client conversion journey that drives your business towards its overall vision. To learn more about me and what I do click here or get in touch here and discuss your individual requirements today.