We all want to land big name clients. On average, they pay well, on-time, and having their names in our portfolio enables us to bring in even more clients like them. But how do we get them? If you’re going it alone, you’ll struggle longer to achieve this goal. If you combine your individual efforts with some strategic partnerships though, landing those big-name clients is kinda easy.
Here’s how to land big-name clients:
- Creative Staffing Agencies
- Design/Advertising Agencies
- Ask Your Network for Referrals
- Go Where They Go/Network
Staffing agencies for creatives (copywriters, graphic designers, photographers, producers, etc.) have relationships with the largest companies in any city. They know all the Big Names and they can get you a gig or a job with them. I’ve added some awesome work and Big Names to my portfolio thanks to some of the creative staffing agencies (CSA) in Portland.
I highly recommend you locate some, or all, of the CSAs in your city and tell them what kind of work you want to do and for whom you want to do it. Many have multiple locations around the U.S. and the world. Here are a few: Mathys+Potestio, Creative Circle, Filter Digital, 24Seven, 52 Ltd., and Vitamin T/Aquent.
Most marketing/digital/design/branding/advertising agencies survive because they have at least one Big Name client. It could be Target, Intel, Nike, Nordstrom, or The Standard. These agencies work with the biggest of the big, the creme de la creme, and they need all kinds of different creative abilities and content. Work can range from internal process documentation to B2B partner/vendor communications to B2C product descriptions and social content. Design agencies are often a one-stop advertising shop.
If you’re one of the creatives they call on for work, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be working on some Big Name accounts. Not all creatives want to work with agencies though. That’s fine. If you don’t like having to deal with the middle-men, focus on some direct routes.
Let’s say you’ve got your eye on a Big Name client, but you don’t know anyone who works there. Do you know anyone who knows someone who works there? Probably. Ask your friends and family if they can refer you to someone in the target department at Big Name X. If you’re good at what you do, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t. You can also ask people in your LinkedIn network to recommend you to their connections with whom you’d like to connect.
Invite people to help you! More often than not, they’ll be happy to.
Don’t know anybody, or anybody who knows anybody, at Big Name X? Cold-call the hiring person in the department you’re targeting (Marketing, HR, Product Design, etc.) and introduce yourself. I’ve sung the praises of cold-calling many times on this blog and I will continue to do so! You’re not a telemarketer, and you’re not calling apartment-dwellers asking them if they’d like to buy aluminum siding. You’re a skilled service/product provider calling to offer something that the person needs, and would probably make their life easier. Don’t forget that.
Oh, and you can cold-email people on LinkedIn if you have a Premium account. They call it InMail. Not everyone accepts InMail, but this is another “cold-call” route if you’re terrified of using the phone (and a lot of people are, so you’re not alone).
The best way to make lasting connections is still the oldest way: face-to-face. If you can find a conference, networking event, or any other event where a representative of Big Name X will be, go there. Find them, meet them, and be your usual charming self. Design agencies AND creative staffing agencies host events where they invite reps from Big Name companies. Get on their mailing lists and check their Events pages regularly.
For example, Mathys+Potestio is putting on The Great Resume Debate on May 12th where reps from adidas, Citizen, and Swift Collective will be presenting. Check out the links, see if you’re interested in connecting with these agencies. If so, come to the event ready to introduce yourself to them. And be sure to introduce yourself to me as well, because I’ll be there and I’d love to meet you.
What other ways do you recommend landing big-name clients? How did one of these five methods land you a big-name client? I’d love to know.