You’ve got banks of shiny new Macs. A creative team covered in tats and at least nine different hair colours between them. You’re poised to pump out great work. Amped to win some awards. Now if only the invitations to pitch would come in…
Having sweat-drenched flashbacks to high school? It’s hardly surprising. Because not since you tried to catch the eye of your teenage crush have you felt this much anxiety. How do you get on the radar of your most desired clients? How do you get them to notice you; give you a few brief minutes to show off your talents for a chance to woo them?
According to Jonathan Kirk of Up to the Light, a UK-based consultancy for marketing agencies, a pitch list usually comprises the following players:
- One or more incumbent agencies – most likely, the agency already handling the work, and perhaps a smaller one that’s proved its mettle.
- An agency recommended by business associates or colleagues.
- An agency that came in cold at the right time and pitched brand-specific thoughts.
- An agency that showed up in an online search, probably thanks to a glut of awards.
If you’re not already the main agency doing the work, you’ll likely fall into one of the three other slots. And by ‘fall into’ we mean work your butt off to get noticed.
3 ways to get your agency noticed (and onto a pitch shortlist)
#1 Market your agency online
Your online presence is your brand’s business card. What does your webresentation say about your business? It’s no use creating beautiful work for clients and then tossing it into the cyber equivalent of a dilapidated garden shed or an abandoned lot. Make sure people can find you online, and that when they do, they’re impressed. HubSpot suggests you take the following tactical steps:
- Build and maintain relationships with the press, and pitch them fresh, newsworthy and interesting content.
- Position your agency as a thought-leader; act as panellists and guest writers.
- Optimise your website to increase its visibility and leverage the advantages of SEO.
- Streamline your focus – know where your targets are, what they’re reading, watching and doing, and make sure that’s where you reach them.
#2 Market your agency in real life
Word-of-mouth is a powerful endorsement, but no one can recommend you if they don’t know your agency exists. Networking is one of the most important ways to establish your reputation and build a name for yourself in the industry. Do it well and do it often, and eventually the connections you make will pay dividends.
“Network! We just landed a big city client because the owner went to a conference and was just talking to other business owners. Turns out, one of them was looking for a company to send some web work and we’re on project #3 in just 2 months since then.
Meet people everywhere you go. Every time I meet someone, I ask for a card. Then I keep in touch by sending a card here and there, or inviting them to lunch once in a while. You never know when they’ll need your services, but you want to be the first person they think of when they do.” – The SitePoint Forum
Meetup events are a great place to start – they have them in cities all over the world, so you can find out exactly where your targets are meeting, engaging, swapping business cards and building relationships.
It’s important to note at this point that you should have a clear idea of who your ideal prospect is, otherwise you could make the same mistake I did and end up wasting thousands of hours of your life in meetings.
#3 Create award-winning work
One of the surest ways to get noticed is to start racking up respected industry awards. It’s not always easy to turn down work, especially when you’re trying to build a loyal client base. But try to be discerning in the jobs you choose so you can play to your studio’s strengths and create work that stands out.
The submit your work for consideration. Show up at the awards ceremonies. Take home trophies or honorable mentions. Brag about it on your website and social media pages, and leverage your wins to cement more business.
Get these three steps right, and you’ll nail three of the four ways to get onto the short list.
And the fourth? Win the pitch.
What’s your best advice for getting on the pitch list? Let me know in the comments, and if you enjoyed this post, share it with your network.
PS: In our next blog post, we dive into detail about how to get in front of key corporates.