Wednesday, 4:26pm
24 November 2010

Drumming up new business?

Think about your strategy before you start cold calling

The most common problem for small studios is how to bring in new business, writes Represent’s Mike Radcliffe. For a studio to succeed and – more importantly – thrive, it is important to develop a new business strategy that’s consistent, persistent and viewed as a full time activity.

Too often new business activity increases when work dries up, and decreases when new work arrives.

Top: Detail from Ed Vince, ‘Quilted Dollar' (2010). See ‘Up the ante’ on the Eye blog.

Email newsletters and mail-outs are a good example of new business tools that often miss the mark. To be effective they need to have something to say: a reason why a potential client might read it. They also have to be consistent – either sent regularly or when new work is completed and written up as a case study.


Above: ‘So much to do’, by Seb Lester. More details here:

Many studios use the design press and blogs to publicise work, or enter design awards. Increasing the studio’s profile does help, but the reason why most new business happens for small studios is either because they have been recommended or as a result of a chance encounter with someone who needs design work. People don't buy design just because of the work a studio has produced historically. They also buy it because they like the designers, and trust them to solve their problems.

So the way to find and keep new business is to develop and maintain relationships with people. Small studios need to work out who is going to go out and schmooze potential clients and make it happen. The ones that really perform well find new business intuitively and naturally. My experience of companies like Spin, MadeThought and GTF has shown that good networking is second nature to them. These guys do it without thinking, partly because they are so passionate about the work they produce.

Get out there and talk to people, find out what their problems are and discuss the way that good graphic design can help solve their problems.

Below: Illustration by James Graham. See Mike Radcliffe’s blog, ‘Avoiding the CV-jeebies’.


What’s my authority for writing this? Well, we set up Represent Recruitment, in 2003. We aimed to do it better, work with only genuinely creative people and companies, and give people the sort of experience they wanted from an agency that was to represent them in the outside world. As a result we are not only well regarded in the design industry but often find ourselves approached by small studios looking for business advice. MR

Below: Poster by Anthony Burrill. See our profile piece in Eye 75, ‘Over the rainbow

Anthony Burrill poster

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