At a dinner party recently, someone not involved with the marketing world asked me an interesting question: How do you find new clients? My immediate reaction was to say that it is the job of the business development team and they would probably be the first point of contact, because as part of the creative team that is not necessarily in my remit.

As the night wore on, the answer I had given to this question began to bother me. The more I thought about it, the more I came to realise that my answer was not necessarily true. My role as Executive Creative Director is to guide the creative team in producing pieces of the highest standards to address a client’s particular problem; so am I not my own client? And is my basic problem not getting new clients?

My team and I work to craft pitches for our clients, which is part of the process of gaining new business. I also ensure that our business development team’s communications are on brand. Many would argue that this is not necessarily part of my job description, but I enjoy doing it and believe that when working as a team every member should be aware of what the rest of their team does (and how they do it). Once I started thinking, I came to the realisation that although I understand what our business development team does, I was not aware of just what is effective for them.

After talking to our talented head of business development, I found out that (somewhat unsurprisingly) there is no single answer; different approaches are needed for different scenarios. However, one thing I did take from our conversation is that personal approaches always work, especially in the B2B work we do at Base One. This is why you must always, ALWAYS do your homework. It might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people simply don’t bother. I have seen proof of this first hand through the thousands of generic emails I receive yearly; no, I do not want to engage with you to do my marketing and/or branding as this is what Base One does and we do it very well thank you!

So make sure that you know what the company you are reaching out to does, how they do it and what their competitors are up to. Thoroughly researching their products and industry will enable you to match your product (be it design, branding, website development or all of the above) most effectively to their needs. If you have no clue about what the company does or what their products are, this will be patently obvious to the person on the other side. They will also know if you do not understand the basics of their industry. It is worth researching the person you are contacting, such as any of their past achievements or successful campaigns which you can mention to them…trust me, this little bit of research can get you a long way.

Returning to a previous point, generic e-mail blasters will not land you a single client in the B2B circuit. Perhaps they can be effective in B2C where the client has already signed up to receive communications from you, but in the B2B branding and marketing I doubt anyone will pay these emails any attention. Engaging a new agency is never an impulsive decision. No marketing director or manager worth their salt will receive a mass email and think ‘this will be my new agency, I don’t like the one I’ve been working with anymore’. Engaging an agency is a serious business which requires a great deal of thought and research, and your approach needs to have substance to even get a foot in the door.

As I said before, there is not one magic formula to help gain new clients; client-agency relationships can be forged in many different ways. What has worked for us might not necessarily work for you, but one thing I am certain of is that if you understand what you are talking about this will really come across to the client and you will make a much better impression.