The growth of your agency is a tremendous feat: more cash flow coming in gives you the opportunity to grow your team, and thus have more hands on deck to tackle new projects. This is a critical time, however, to ensure you’re selecting the right clients as you continue to scale. After all, biting off more than you can chew can lead to repercussions that could cost you your reputation.
When it comes to determining who to target when pitching new business, make sure to invoke the same criteria you were using before you grew: this should include a shared mission, values, and a mutual respect.
Below, eight agency executives from Forbes Agency Council offer their best advice for picking the right clients as you continue to grow your agency business.
1. Don’t Change Your Culture
Choose clients who fit within your culture. We have made the mistake of working with clients in the past that were, quite frankly, mean and aggressive. While we could have hired staff to match their demeanor and demands, we realized that it would change the collaborative culture that we have created within our company. Culture fit is important for hiring staff as well as selecting clients. – Robby Rigano, Fancy Pants Group
2. Ensure Your Goals Are Shared
If they feel like true partners, where opportunities are equally beneficial and there’s respect and admiration on both sides, that’s when it starts to feel like a good fit. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sexy brand or a big name account; if those shared goals are not there, it can be an uphill climb and almost not worth starting the relationship in the first place. – Mick DiMaria, 72andSunny
3. Choose Clients Who Aren’t Afraid to Let You Do Your Best Work
Don’t pursue clients who are purely price or cost driven, which signals a lack of vision on their part. Instead, seek out clients who are open to new and innovative ideas, which can fuel an agency’s creativity and effectiveness. These behaviors can emerge even before the contract is signed. It pays to look out for them. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
4. Never Compromise on Quality Clients
As an agency you should never compromise on clients. Only represent the client that you feel proud about presenting; otherwise, you won’t be able to do as good a good job representing them. Even when you get bigger as an agency, you should ask yourself: “Would I use this product myself?” If the answer is no, you shouldn’t take the client on. You would be doing a disservice to them and yourself. Stay true to how you feel. – Ayelet Noff, Blonde 2.0
5. Believe in the Value of the Brands You Represent
If you don’t genuinely feel excited by what your client’s company or brand brings to the table, it’s going to be difficult to fake. Don’t even try it. Take on clients who inspire you, and pass on opportunities that don’t. It’s the key to running an authentic business (and being an authentic professional). – Rebekah Iliff, AirPR
Forbes Agency Council
is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
6. Play to Your Strengths
As you expand your business, don’t try to be everything to everybody. Know your agency’s core competencies and only consider potential clients that the agency can confidently help. – Jenna Gross, Moving Targets
7. Be True to Your Values
If a prospective client doesn’t fit within your core values of who you are as a company or the types of clients you engage well with, then don’t kid either party and let them know it’s not a good fit. Stay true to your values and follow your gut instinct. It hasn’t let me down yet on any client to date. Look for clients who share your vision, not those who want their way to be the “right” one. – Lee Salisbury, UnitOneNine
8. Work With Clients Who Value and Respect Your Craft
Choose clients that see the value in what you do, and who understand why you do it. It’s helpful when clients see the value in what you do because it leads to a strong, thriving relationship where you can focus on the end goal rather than having to justify what you are doing every step of the way. –Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group