How to approach a new client for an old dog
I am a long time editor (22 years), and I have recently started a new production company. I recently saw an article in the business section about a food service company looking for new ways to market their services. The article mentions the principles and their web site. What is the appropriate way to contact this company to present some ideas? It sounds so simple, but for an artistic guy that needs to learn how to sell. It does not come so easy. Any thoughts from the gallery?
Thanks for your input.
First, draw up a proposal (a plain word doc with your company name or logo at the top) detailing your ideas and how they fit in with the company. Be specific, but not wordy. 1-2 pages tops is what you want. It doesn't have to be gorgeous, this is essentially where you put your FIRST ideas to paper and brainstorm.
Bullet points rock here, as you may need this proposal handy for a cold call and you don't want to stammer or seem insecure (even though we all are).
Based on the size of the company you're pitching to, you may want to go to the head honcho, or perhaps the marketing director, or PR director. See if you know anyone in that field who has worked with the potential client before. Mutual contacts will get you halfway there.
Lastly, the phone call. Once you have your ducks in a row, hopefully you have the name of the person you want to call (and googled him/her for any additional tidbits, such as are you from the same hometown, etc), make the call. If you don't have the name of the person you should call, cold call their main line, ask to speak with someone in the marketing department, that person will tell you who the department head is if you ask nicely. Now, back to the phone call - First, give a quick summary, briefly discuss your qualifications, and see if you can have a face to face meeting with him/her to explain your services and how you'd like to help him accomplish his goals. Share how the article inspired you to the idea. Passion for a clients product coupled with real-world experience is a big draw.
If you can't get a meeting, ask if you can send a proposal in to him. Send it in with a copy of your work that would appeal to him/her. Make the proposal look nice. Kinkos bindings, quality paper, the whole nine.
They may currently outsource the services you provide already. In that case, try to get in with the outsourcer and complete the project as a vendor to them.
Hopefully this will get you off to a good start. There are a myriad of details I'd need to have to give you the most accurate advice possible, but this should be an excellent place to begin.
Remember, the only thing they will know about you initially is what you present to them. Make it awesome and they'll think you're awesome.
John Davidson____ writer | producer | director____http://www.magicfeatherinc.com
That is a perfect summery. It is a different world out there, but it
will be fun taking on new challeneges.
That last post reminds me of something.
My bad luck has always been, when researching a potential client often I call a place, just to get the name and details of the head person who I want to eventually talk to some other day, (when I have my stuff together) the $%#% receptionist just immediately connects me right then and there and leaves me hanging with the ringing phone. YIPE!
Then I have to decide in a microsecond if I should hang-up because I'm no where NEAR prepared to pitch right then, or should I bluff it out, come up with a legitimate reason to be bothering this person and try my best generic approach. I'm just saying that you need to have a plan in the back of your mind if that happens to you, so your first impression you give over the phone is a good one.
To me, the hard thing is walking into a place you've never been, to talk to someone you've never met, about their business which you know next to zero about. "Salesmen" are always coming at me like this, a premade non-custom solution looking for a problem I don't have. I know they don't know or care about my real needs and I show them the door.
You don't wan't to come in being a "salesman", Roy, you want to come in being a consultant, i.e. a problem solver with expertise to lend. Cultivate the attitude that you are a tremendous resource, and pretend like asking for the money is something that can be worked out later. First, you come with ideas and perspective, ready to apply to solving their need. You've seen it all, you have seen how things can go wrong, you know the tricks to get things done right and done efficiently without unneccessary expenses. Be the consultant first. Talk money later, if they decide you are what you say you are: The Answer Man.
The info you provide is great. I think it is really a case of confidence. I have been doing this a long time for someone else, and have seen all their mistakes. I am trying hard not to repeat them.
Keep in mind that when you identify the problem, the answer may not be what you're selling. Be prepared to suggest the client go another way if that's best for them. It doesn't put money in your pocket, but what do you think that guy will tell his (or her) buddies if video production vendors come up in conversation?
It helps to understand the merits of a range of communication options...if the message needs to be non-linear (like a reference catalog), you need some sort of CD/DVD with an interface...if the intended audience (your customer's customer) travels a lot, maybe an optical disk is inconvenient to use as you need to have a laptop with you at all times...on the other hand if the catalog weighs 40 pounds when fully realized in print, carrying a laptop doesn't seem like much of a burden.
Is the message an opening salvo for any old snowball-of-a-chance prospect, or is it for established customers? Opening salvos need flash and it needs to be cheap to distribute as most of them will be a waste of time...CDrom totally beats print in this case for manufacturing and shipping cost...if it's a device to help established customers have easier access to ordering information, maybe a CDrom that plugs into a website for additional functionality is the answer.
If it's a sales presentation, keep the pricing out of it, or have a hidden web page that can only be accessed by the CDrom from the client's computer with the pricing on it, then the client doesn't have to discard and recreate inventory of the disk everytime pricing changes, they simply change the web page.
This stuff goes on and on frankly...just remember that until you fully understand the client's business and needs, you don't know if you can provide the services he/she needs. Building a reputation will be easier if you can at least provide the answer however...
Creative Cow Host,