Business development tip: Walk the corridors
Many moons ago, as an Account Man for a little design agency, my job was to keep the briefs rolling in, and if they weren’t, well I had to do something about it. What I did worked then and in a different guise, it continues to work today.
The period I’m referring to is the mid 1980s – you know the era of AC/DC, Cold Chisel, David Bowie, big hair and padded shoulders. Anyway, enough about me.
The thing is, I was responsible for keeping our studio busy and that involved serious client schmoozing and relationship building.
We had a great portfolio of blue chip clients and a stack of wannabe agencies nipping at our heels. Competition was fierce and hair gel expensive.
I realised early on that a key part of my success came from being seen. When we were busy I was always toing and froing, walking the corridors with an art-bag full of layouts and artwork. Corridors populated by a number of decision-making product managers.
I seriously cannot recall a time visiting a key client that I didn’t return with even more work, or at least the hint of something in the pipeline.
I cottoned on and started visiting even when I had nothing to pick up or deliver. I’d pop my head in, wave to people in meetings, treat a few admin types to coffee and donuts. Oh, yes I schmoozed alright.
And it worked. Each person would assume I was dealing with a colleague and if you understand the power of ‘social proof’ you’ll get why this was so damn cool. There’s a section in this article that explains the concept further.
So 30 years on and not working with an agency, how do I use what I learned? Well in a couple of very clear ways as it happens:
1. I’ll often make seemingly absurd offers
Recently I presented a talk at a creative industries conference and I know a couple of key things about creative people:
- They are generous with their acknowledgement
- They tend to write with consideration and warmth
At the close of my talk I offered a free consultation to anyone who had business challenges. I was swamped. As each session began, I made it clear that if my work was deemed to be of value, I’d really appreciate a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Within a month I’d received 16 recommendations and each was superb. Social proof: my work, works.
2. I stay relevant and share my opinions
While I’m certainly not a full-on networker and barely participate on social media, I try to do enough to stay in the mind of those that matter.
Each morning I take a look at what’s popped up on SourceBottle’s twitter feed and if I have an opinion on the topic, and the source looks genuine, I’ll whizz off a quick response.
One such response was in Jetstar’s August InFlight Magazine. And they’ve a lot of aluminium corridors I’ve noticed!
Is there a client you should pay a visit or a call?