PITCHING TO DREAM CLIENTS PART 2: FINDING AND CONTACTING CLIENTS
This is the second in a three part series on how to grow your business by pitching yourself to your ideal clients. You can read part one here. We’re passionate about pitching to clients because we found our first client by sending an email, which you can read about here, and we found many of our other early clients by going to craft fairs which you can read about here. We think it’s really important to pursue the clients that you want instead of waiting for them to come to you.
So how do we go about finding and contacting these clients?
Let’s start with finding them. We have a list of big name dream clients that we hope to work with one day, and I highly recommend making a list of huge clients that seem impossible because it can really help you when making smaller goals. You can think through the steps needed to reach those dream companies and use those as goals that you can start working on now. In the meantime, you can start targeting smaller companies who are a little easier to contact.
The main way that we find companies to contact is through Instagram ads. These are companies who see the value in imagery and who need content since they are on social media and running ads. When I get ads, I click through to see their feed and if they look like a good fit for our style. If I think that it could be a good partnership, I use the Instagram save button to save one of their images into my “Brands to Contact” folder.
I also will take photos of packaging I love in stores, or screenshot other interesting brands I find when browsing online. I save all of these into a folder on my phone so they are easy to find later.
About once a week, I take all the brands that I’ve found and add them to Asana, our task manager. I have a project called Clients that has several different lists: Current Clients, Past Clients, Potential Clients - Contacted, Potential Clients - Not Contacted, and Potential Clients - Contacted Us. I add all of the companies that I would like to reach out to to the Potential Clients - Not Contacted list. From there I can add subtasks to them like the date I want to contact them, and I can add any contact info or social media handles that I can find into their description. This way I can keep everything in one easy place and quickly search to see if I have already contacted someone or added them to the list.
I try to reach out to about 5-10 new clients every week. I’ve designated Thursdays as my day to do this which helps me to set aside time to actually get it done, although it can change depending on the week. I start by sending an email, preferably to a real person who is either in charge of marketing, or who is in a position to make decisions for the company.
If you’re lucky you can find these email addresses on the website, but typically it takes a little more digging, and this is where LinkedIn comes in handy. You can look up the company and often will find a list of employees with titles. Once you have the first name of the person or people you are trying to contact, you can guess at what their email address might be. Usually it will be something like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You might have to send an email a few times with different versions to figure out which one is correct.
If you can’t find the right person to email or can’t find their email address, there are a few other avenues you can try. You could send them a message via LinkedIn. You can call the company and ask for the email address of the person in charge of marketing. You can email through the contact form or info email on their website - this actually works more often than you would think. As a last resort, you can send the company a message on Instagram. I say this should be a last resort because it typically works, but to me it comes across as less professional.
When you send the email, what do you actually say? This is where you need to do some research to be able to answer these two questions:
What does this company need?
How can my services fulfill this need?
Spend some time reading through the website of the company and any articles you can find about them. Get really familiar with their social media strategy, their products, and their ideal customer. Keep in mind the questions you asked yourself in part 1 to define the type of client you are looking for and make sure that they align with your passions and values.
I usually follow these companies on Instagram and interact with their posts for a little bit while I’m in the researching phase. I save a post from their page into a folder called “Currently Targeting” on Instagram so it’s easy for me to go to their feed and see their latest posts. This helps me get to know them better, but also gets our name in front of their eyes so hopefully they already know who we are when I email them.
Once I have all of this information, I’m ready to craft the message. You want to keep the email SHORT and to the point. Don’t waste their time, and be really clear about what you want. Start by introducing yourself and linking to your work, making sure to actually link any sites or pages you mention so that they can easily click them. Don’t include attachments as this may cause the email to go to spam.
If you have a page of work on your website that really fits their style or shows work that you created for a similar product or client make sure to include that as well. Compliment them on a specific thing that you genuinely like, and show that you understand their company. You want to make sure that this does not come across like a generic email you are sending to multiple companies. Prove that you want to work with THEM, and that you can help them in some way.
Include a call to action at the end, such as listing a few times that you are free for a quick call.
Here is an example of an email I have sent in the past:
Hello *First Name!*
My name is Elle Mitchell, I co-own Weekend Creative, a full-service photography agency focusing on editorial product photography. You can view our work here: *direct link to our work.*
We came across *Company Name* on Instagram and fell in love with your packaging and how you have taken a very common product and made it unique through storytelling. We especially admire *specific example.*
I am reaching out to see if you are in need of product photography and/or social media content creation. We know how overwhelming it can be to constantly need new content for social media and ads. Our goal is to help our clients by creating images that are unique, impactful, and eye-catching. We would love to partner with you to tell your brand's story.
Let me know if you would like to schedule a quick call to talk through our process and how we can help you. I am available Tuesday after 2:00pm, or anytime on Wednesday.
Once you have sent an email or message to the company, you’ll have to wait for them to respond or until it’s appropriate to follow up. In the meantime, continue to research and contact other companies. The reality is that many companies will never respond, and the more potential clients you are contacting, the better chance you have of one of them eventually hiring you.
Have you ever reached out to a company this way? We would love to hear about your experience and if you have any additional advice or tips!
Make sure to read part one if you haven’t already, and stay tuned for part three all about how to follow up.
Is it the weekend yet?