Do you target clients based on vanity or sanity?

 |  By: Kate Jones In: Growth and scalability

I’m going to start this blog by asking a tricky question, who would you rather win as a client, Ferrari or Dave’s dog food?

OK, I’ve led you into a rather obvious trap. I’m assuming you’ve chosen Ferrari, and this might absolutely be the right choice for your agency. In fact, it probably is because Dave’s dog food is made up. But the point is, how do you know before you've seen the brief and the budget?

In this blog, we encourage you to think about the clients you target. If based on vanity we encourage you to think about injecting some sanity too.

Two years ago I ran an event for agency folk across the North West, around 120 industry professionals attended. During the event, we ran a lighthearted, three-minute debate during which two agencies discussed ‘vanity vs sanity.’ Which type of client would they rather win, a solid, deliverable, perhaps smaller or lesser-known client or a big bold brand that they can plaster all over their website?

Vanity won by a landslide. There were two main arguments that won on the day…

One, that you set up your agency or join an agency driven by passion so you need to follow that passion and work in the areas that interest you and your team.

It’s a winning point and at Synergist we wholeheartedly agree. We’d argue that following your agency’s true north is crucial to your growth and team happiness. One of the key benefits of our software is that it helps handle the business side of operations, leaving agencies to focus on using their talents and developing the agency in the direction in which they want to grow.

But could Dave’s dog food not be just as inspiring as Ferrari? Some big brands are large corporate tankers who are risk averse and difficult to manoeuvre. Now take Lilly’s Kitchen as an example. One lucky agency has had the opportunity to take them on their journey from founder Henrietta’s kitchen (Lilly is her border terrier) to a luxury, household dog food brand. Could you do the same for Dave’s dog food? You may need to rebrand first but until you know the brief and the budget how do you know?

The second point was that if you get the big names, the rest will follow.

Is this really true? If a client is looking for an agency to manage their entire online presence including an ecommerce site and app are they going to immediately jump at an agency that’s worked with a big name, even if all they did for that brand was an SEO review?

Clients are savvy. They do their research and nothing beats experience. Far more compelling than a big name is an agency that can demonstrate they have relevant experience of the project in-hand and can deliver it with great and proven results.

You’re more likely to attract magpies than serious clients if your website is littered with small projects for big names *unless of course, your aim is to attract smaller projects, which leads nicely onto our third point.

If you know what work you’re targeting, perhaps you can have vanity and sanity?

Your business needs to make money, this wasn’t discussed in the debate, perhaps because the brief was ‘lighthearted’ and our debaters were deliberately picking extreme views to inject some wit. But of course, you can’t ignore the financials.

If your vanity projects are also winning you work and proving profitable then you’ve cracked it. But more often than not, we find when people start using software like Synergist that gives visibility of client costs from the opportunity through to project delivery, highlighting over-servicing in the meantime, they’re surprised about which clients are actually profitable.

Know what works for you and then you can use your head to follow the clients and projects in your heart.

If you’d like to hear more about how Synergist can help your agency identify the clients that are going to enable you to grow safely, in the direction you’re passionate about then there are a number of ways you can get in touch: