Landing That First Big Fish
If you were to whittle a lasso, round up all the very best entrepreneurs on the planet and then ask them all what the pivotal moment in their success was, they would all tell you a story about how they hooked a big fish of a client. No. They hooked a whale. Sure, most people that have secured success would have done it sooner or later, most people. But the big whale client put them on the fast track to success. It tripled their earnings and more. It put their business on the radar of other big businesses. It was the one way ticket to living the dream.
Of course, there is one teeny, tiny, massive problem: Landing the game changer ain’t easy. Not in the slightest. It takes time, effort, tweaking, changing, hard work and an even harder hustle and, even with all this checked off, you still need a nice dollop of luck to land in your path too. That said, it’s still totally possible. It’s just knowing where to start, which is where the old adage comes back to haunt us because knowledge really is power. So, with that in mind, here are some of the very best tips from the very best examples of superstar entrepreneurs, as well as a few other pointers for good measure.
You Gotta Buy A Lotto Ticket
The first rule is as simple as they come: If you don’t buy a lotto ticket then you can’t win the jackpot. It’s as simple as it is true. Network as much as you can, spread the word of what you are doing and put yourself out there at every possible opportunity. Yeah, it’s going to make you quake in your loafers and, sure, you probably won’t feel like the time is right but, trust us, this is the all important first step when it comes to landing a whale. You see, what you may not realize about networking is just how far the ripples can go. It’s the butterfly effect. One day you are putting yourself out there at a networking event, holding a genuinely great conversation with someone in middle management in some company you’ve sort of heard of and the next thing you know is they’ve gotten headhunted by the very whale you want and they’ve kept hold of your business card. That’s how it begins. Incredible chances almost always burst from the unexpected.
Think Without Limits
Whether you are a freelancer, solopreneur, entrepreneur or small business owner, it can be way too easy to let your leg get snared by the dreaded thought of, “but I’m just one person.” That single thought can dictate your hopes like you wouldn’t believe. Like her or loathe her, Maggy Thatcher said it best when she muttered the words, “Watch your thoughts for they become words; watch your words for they become actions; watch your actions for they become habits; watch your habits, for they become your character; and watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” So, if you want to land that game changing whale, then you need to think big and mighty and act confidently. Don’t hesitate to approach the big name clients simply because you think you are too small and thus assume they won’t want to use you. Instead, know your value and write the words “I will not sell myself short” in bright orange paint above your desk. You’ll be hit for six when big clients start calling you back.
Perception Is Always, Always Reality
The only way a massive brand is going to know you are a small startup with two part-time assistants and a second hand MacBook Pro to share is if you tell them. If, however, you design a wow factor website with an impressive looking portfolio and then add some snappy testimonials and a few stock images of a Googlesque office space, they’ll have no reason to think otherwise. It’s creating the image you want them to see and there are so many ways to do it. Obviously, the website is an easy place to start. But there are also other things you can be doing. Should your dream client get back to you and agree to a meeting, why not go big or go home by sending a chauffeur driven car to pick them up from the airport, or agree to go Dutch on a Prince private jet knowing that everyone in the world is impressed by a private jet. If you don’t have that level of spare cash, then employ other little tricks. Hire a virtual assistant, start your invoicing at 3200 instead of 1, and set up different department emails even though there is only you in the office. Like we said, reality is just a matter of perception, so play on this as much as you need to.
It’s Knowing Who To Contact
When you are nervously trying to figure out what to say when approaching a big fish, your mind probably says you should be addressing your approach to the owner. But this isn’t the best strategy. No way. Either your email will get stopped on its way to their inbox, it will get ignored or it will get read in a rush and forgotten about. When going for a top client, forget about the top dog. Instead, approach someone lower down the ladder, someone that has some influence over decisions and is hungry to impress: an art director, a procurement manager, the marketing executive. Don’t just rely on an email either. Try and make contact with them through LinkedIn, Twitter, tying a scroll to a raven’s leg or just throwing a brick through their office window with a message on it (okay, don’t do the last one). These are all amazing platforms that allow you to open lines of communication, and if they don’t work, then try approaching an agency or business that has an existing relationship with and seeing if they outsource any work. It’s about thinking outside the box.
Make Your Shot Count
If a potentially massive client does buy into a pitch, they usually start with a little nibble. They will give you a small task to handle and use this to see what sort of quality you produce. Do. Not. Waste. This. Chance. First impressions are crucial and how you perform in your first project, no matter how small it may seem, is absolutely crucial to your chances of bigger success. We’re not just talking about the finished product either; your first drafts and/or proofs need to be absolutely perfect too. If you do that, then the client will look at you with a glint in their eye and know you are a trustworthy business to work with. That’s what happened with Copper Milk Creative. After badgering the luxury footwear brand, Fairfax & Favor, for copywriting work, they got the chance to redo their ‘Our Story’ page. The founder (and only employee) of Copper Milk Creative did such a grand job, he secured a massive monthly retainer and for just two days work a month. Forget what you may have heard, the most important project you will ever do for a client is the first one.
A Heartfelt Thanks
You remember how your dear old Ma would always tell you to say please and thank you? Well, she was right. No matter how big or small a task was, you’ll be amazed at how far a handwritten thank you note goes. Of course, that should be the very least you do. For the bigger clients, and bigger projects, you should try sending a more impressive thank you note, something like an engraved bottle of Haig Club Whisky. That will be more than enough to get your clients showing their appreciation every time you see them.