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Finding The Right Fit

How do you know when you've found the right match? A few weeks back I caught up with a friend from another company and we discussed winning work, and how this comes about within our respective agencies.

During the conversation I was asked, ‘Well, how does new work come in at Cargo?’ As I thought for a second, I asked myself the question again. I replied, explaining that new clients are referred to us from existing clients, simply by recommendation or word of mouth. ‘What, so you have never cold-called someone to offer your services?’ The look of disbelief was clear… ‘Erm, no.’ I replied again. ‘How is work won at your place?’ I asked. ‘Cold calling. Lots of it’, was the reply.

Now, don’t get me wrong – much of this comes down to the relative size of companies. The bigger the beast, the more feeding it takes, we all know that surely?

We are firm believers in organic growth, and building strong client relationships. Here’s why…

We welcomed a new client onboard recently which is great – always happy to see new work coming in, as any business is. Around the same time we were invited to tender for another new project – more on that in a minute.

We met twice in person with our new client prior to winning this work. Firstly to informally meet to discuss requirements, and secondly to present our company to the senior management. As part of this process (knowing that they were speaking to some other agencies), I asked whether they expected to see some initial creative concepts within the presentation – not so much a free pitch, but so we had an idea of what was required. ‘I think it would help’ was the reply. OK, so in this scenario we did spend some time pulling together some initial visuals. This was based on the fact that we had had a conversation, the company is in a very similar position to another client that we have delivered some great results for and also the fact that we see huge opportunities in the relationship.

It certainly wasn’t a case of ‘Show us what you can do and then we’ll see where we go from there’. So, in the discussion that followed a number of days later, when we were told that we had won the work, one thing really stuck with me – ‘It feels like a really good fit’ is what came from the client. Bingo. A client that thinks the same as us. Ultimately, in our eyes, any creative working relationship is a two way street. We could go in-depth here and discuss aligning the vision and values of your clients with that of your own, however the main element is the relationship. Building a long-lasting a relationship is as important as producing the work – it fuels great outcomes. Clients that we have worked with for years understand us, we understand them, their requirements and needs. Ultimately it adds value to the work they receive.

Now onto that tender, the villain of this piece and why paper based procurement is soul destroying:

  • I logged in online.
  • Downloaded four documents.
  • The main one in excess of 30 pages of copy (none of which actually gave a scope of work that we could accurately provide a fee against).
  • My heart sank.

The sceptic in me would think that another provider was already lined up for this work – but surely this sort of practice doesn’t happen right? After some consideration as to whether this project would be right for us or not, we chose not to go for it. After all, we are working on some great projects with clients who have visited us, met the team and have a feeling for the ethos and values we hold intrinsically as an agency.

This paper-based procurement process is required on large contracts, I understand that. We went through something similar last year. The amount of hoops we had to jump through made the project sound like a game changer for us – the time to deliver and related fees reflected what we believed the size of the project to be. On this occasion we submitted, without any creative I might add, and (you can probably guess what happened) we didn’t get a sniff. We were ‘too expensive’. When I found what was actually needed, it was clear that the requirement was far less than what was outlined in the procurement process. Note: Don’t use the same procurement process for creative services as you do for large plant equipment, or office supplies. Allow a conversation. Speak to a human being.

As creatives we generally are not too good with reams of paperwork (I suffer from form-fear personally), but we are good at talking and listening. We are good at understanding what may be in your head and bringing it out.

How can anyone make an informed decision without even meeting a potential provider? Now, as a small agency – and I’m very proud of our small agency, the values we have, the work that our team put in to each and every project, the thought of spending a great deal of time filling out forms, writing pages of copy to justify the box-ticking process simply is not something that whets our appetite.

If you would like to work with an agency who wants to get to know you and understand your vision, let us know.