4 Ways to Use Creativity to Win New Clients
Creative professionals are, by definition, individuals who do creative work for a living. Yet, when it comes to winning new clients for their own business, they all do the same things and rarely think creatively.
They send cold emails, conduct cold calls, write blog posts, run ads, etc. Basically, many of them do the exact same things as everyone else!
While these tactics are all effective and can produce results, many creatives fail to think creatively about how to win new clients. But here is the thing, as a creative professional you have an incredible opportunity. You can use your own creativity to win new customers!
In this post, I am going to share with you several examples of creative ways to win new clients and give you a framework for how to do this yourself.
Here are some examples of effective creative outreach.
The hollowed-out vintage book
When I started my agency, Outbound Creative, I knew that I didn’t need too many clients, just a few good ones.
In order to accomplish this, I sent out a batch of these hollowed-out, vintage books as a way to engage with new potential customers. Half of the books went to potential prospects in my existing network, the other half went to cold prospects who I had never met.
They received no warning that this package was coming. The goal was for it to show up and absolutely knock their socks off. When they received the package, it was bound in twine with their name handwritten on a tag on the outside.
When they opened the package, they found several items including a wax-sealed letter with their name handwritten on it.
And as they dove through, they found a personal letter, as well as some information about how we could help them.
These packages worked wonders and helped us land several of our first customers for Outbound Creative.
A message in a bottle
There was another prospect who happened to be based over in Japan. Since we were sending across the Pacific Ocean, it only made sense to go with the “message in a bottle theme.”
So we sent him a message in a bottle with a link to a custom URL inside of the bottle.
When he went to the URL, there was a personal video for him that just happened to start with a clip of the music video from The Police. Then at the crucial moment of the song, I cut in singing the chorus and transition to a personal message.
You can watch my terrible impersonation of Sting in the video below…
The humor and fun was not only well received, this individual became a paying client. In fact, here is the email response I got from the package…
Winning big clients with small cakes
Another campaign that was massively successful was the sending of cakes…
Before sending the cake, we would research each prospect in excruciating detail and record a personal video message just for them. Then we would create a landing page on our website with that video embedded. We would then have a local bakery deliver the cake with the web URL written on the top in icing!
Time and time again, we saw amazing results and broke through to people who said, “People email me everyday trying to win our business, but you guys really went above and beyond.”
This led to tons of conversations with our clients and very high-level decision makers who otherwise would have been nearly impossible to get in touch with.
One individual dressed up as a Postmates Delivery Guy
There is another story that I thought was incredible. This was actually the story of a single individual who was trying to get a job at some of the top startups in San Francisco.
Instead of sending in his resume like everyone else, he took it a step further.
He dressed up as a Postmates Delivery Person and brought donuts for each decision maker at the companies he wanted to work for. In many cases, he got to actually meet that decision maker face to face for a few minutes at the drop off.
Other times, they weren’t available but he still got his resume through in an eye-catching way.
This all comes back to the same idea: Use your creativity to break through and win new business!
If you’re ready to launch your own creative outreach campaign, consider these 5 steps:
1. Identify who you want to target
The first step is to identify who it is that you want to go after. My recommendation is to use this approach on a mixture of prospects who already have some warmth with you, as well as some prospects who are cold but meet all of your criteria of an ideal client.
2. Research those prospects in extreme detail
The next step is to then research those prospects in as much detail as possible. You want to know as much as you can before you reach out and spend all of this time and money on creative outreach. If possible, you want to identify “Triggers” which is any sort of signal that would make them an ideal customer for your business. Triggers could be a specific job posting online, a problem with their current marketing, a change in leadership, a merger or acquisition, something else that signifies they would be a right fit to work with you. Try to think through what an ideal trigger is for your target customers, and then build your target prospects based off of that.
3. Build your approach and message
The next step is to think creatively about your message and approach. Typically, I like to do some sort of mind map exercise when I start thinking through creative outreach. When doing this, let your creativity run wild as sometimes the most crazy ideas are the best. When you do launch the outreach though, be sure to make it about them. It’s easy to get excited about this and turn your package into a massive swag bomb. Instead, keep it focused on your prospect and how you can help them.
An example mind map brainstorming session from my notepad.
4. Launch your outreach
As Seth Godin would say, you need to ship it! So many companies start these campaigns but never get them out the door. There are a lot of moving parts, but make sure those don’t stop you. Don’t be a perfectionist and just get the outreach out the door even if it isn’t perfect.
5. Follow up extensively
Lastly, you will need to follow up extensively. People are busy, and even though you go above and beyond to grab their attention, many still won’t take the initiative to contact you unless you reach out to them. Within 24-72 hours of sending your outreach, be sure to follow up with a phone call or email. If they don’t respond to that, keep following up 5-6 times through email and phone calls!
A few things to remember when taking this approach:
Who you target matters
If someone doesn’t have a need or want to buy your service, then no creative outreach is going to win them over. You need to make sure you are doing your best to research prospects who could actually benefit from your services.
Use this on warm prospects
If you have a prospect who is warm or in the proposal process, consider using this creative approach as a way to separate you from the norm. While everyone else is sending standard PDF proposals, you can use your creativity to go above and beyond in the sales process and win them over.
It is still a numbers game
Just like any form of marketing, sales or outreach, it is a numbers game. You can’t expect to send 3 packages and win 3 clients. Some won’t have a need. Others won’t have a budget. Others will not be ready to buy.
If you are using this on cold prospects, you need to plan on reaching out to a decent number of prospects (at least 10-15) with the hopes of winning one or two.
Be conscious of your costs with cold prospects
While it is easy to want to go crazy with outreach, keep your costs within reason for cold outreach. You have to realize that you may need to send 15 packages before you win one client. If you spend too much then you will never see a positive ROI from the campaign.
Be creative with your approach, and figure out how you can make a splash while keeping costs down. As an example, the bottle I mentioned previously was bought from a thrift store for 50 cents!
Spend more when you have a warm prospect
If you want to go all out and do something a bit more expensive, save that for your warm prospects. These are individuals who already have shown intent to buy, and you are now using your creativity to nudge them over the edge in your direction. If a client is worth $50k to you, then it isn’t unreasonable to spend a few hundred dollars to win them over.
Use your creativity to grow your business
The core message I am driving in with this post is to use your creativity to win new business. Think differently and apply the same creativity that you do to your work to how you win new clients. Because if you want to get someone’s attention, stand out, be unique and be authentic.
Jake Jorgovan helps agencies and consultants win their dream clients. He is author of the book Win Your Dream Clients, Principal at Outbound Creative, host of the Working Without Pants Podcast and blogs and weekly at Jake-Jorgovan.com
Jake will be one of the presenters at The Get Better Clients Bootcamp (presented by Marketing Mentor @ HOW Design Live), a half day intensive on May 2, 2017 in Chicago that will bring together a roster of dynamic speakers who are all going to answer the question, “How do you get better clients?” Register by January 24 for the best price of the year!