INNOVATION

Top Tips To Help Small Business Land Those Big Clients

Forget about playing it safe.

18/08/2016 5:54 AM AEST | Updated 18/08/2016 5:55 AM AEST
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There are plenty of ways small business can grab the attention, and business, of bigger brands.

Being able to land that one big brand or client can mean the difference between success and failure for some small businesses.

But as a small operation, how do you get major players to notice you?

Visual Domain director Daniel Goldstein, who has taken his company from humble beginnings of producing five videos a week to working with some of Australia's biggest brands, says his success didn't come from playing it safe.

"In a sense, we disrupted the video industry and debunked the perception that video was costly, time consuming and difficult to produce," he told The Huffington Post Australia.

"We focused on making it easy for our clients; from their very first encounter with us we made sure it was a fun and enjoyable experience."

Visual Domain
Visual Domain director Daniel Goldstein went from making five videos a week to working with corporate clients including NAB, Bupa and Kmart.

And the Melbourne-based company, whose long-term clients include NAB, Coles, Bupa, Kmart, Seek and Target, landed those brands without a savvy sales team or massive marketing budget.

Goldstein said that although some big corporates have internal production capabilities, they often choose a more nimble agency that can streamline the process and make it easier, faster and more cost-effective, often leading to more work for the small business.

"Our videos are seen by thousands and one good video will lead to many more, which is ultimately how we caught the attention of some of Australia's biggest businesses," he said.

"One of the key components of a successful business is letting your product sell for you."

Visual Domain
The Visual Domain team on set creating a corporate video.

From basement to blockbuster


Sitback Solutions, a Sydney-based digital agency that started as a one-man show in a city basement, has also had similar success in landing corporate clients.

The agency works with clients to uncover the needs and motivations of both the business and the end user, creating interfaces that deliver to both.

Founded by Paul Armstrong, the agency took out three awards at the recent 2016 Sydney City Business Awards, and now counts Woolworths, ANZ, Foxtel, Virgin Money and Subaru as clients.

But Armstrong said it wasn't an easy ride.

"In the early days we were often considered as too small, so too risky," he told HuffPost Australia.

"Several times we were told that our proposals were coming in so much lower than our larger competitors that even very supportive project stakeholders didn't feel they could present us as viable competitors."

Armstrong said it took about a year in business before Sitback landed a major client.

"That was really due to an existing relationship and initially was only a few small engagements," he said.

Sitback Solutions
Sitback Solutions founder Paul Armstrong said his company benefited from word of mouth off the back of doing good work.

"This eventually led to an opportunity to pitch for a full site rebuild and 24/7 managed services support. (We) didn't make any profits and worked 80 hour weeks while we were doing it though!

"To date we've done pretty much zero marketing and instead benefited from word of mouth off the back of doing good work. That's not to say we've never made of mess of things but the positive results have greatly outweighed the negative ones."

Armstrong said while big clients can bring in the big bucks, working with them did have some drawbacks.

"Cashflow and red tape are the two killers," he said. "We've had several occasions when growing where multi-hundred thousand dollar jobs were completed long before invoiced funds were received.

"This causes not only immediate cashflow challenges but also creates additional stresses and operational overheads that effectively remove any financial benefits associated with the job.

"So it's not all champagne and caviar."

He said small business should be wary not to under-service or over-stretch for larger clients as it can harm relationships.

"While it's probably a cliche, knowing when to say no is probably the best advice I can give to any small business working with large clients," he said.

Sitback Solutions
The Sitback Solutions team at work.

Here are Goldstein's top 5 tips when working with big clients:


1. Make the process easy and fun for clients

Everyone wants to enjoy the process, so make sure your clients enjoy the experience and feel a part of the process from the very start.

2. Good systems and processes

Consistency is the most important thing for your clients -- have clear processes in place and quality control.

3. Make sure you get the service right every single time

Your clients will understand if you make mistakes, but only if you own them and learn from them.

4. Technology is your best friend

Having a product or service is great, but you need to have the systems in place in order to support your day to day. When the big guys coming knocking, will you be able to meet their demands? Or grow fast enough in terms of resources? Technology is vital in ensuring your business runs smoothly.

5. Be innovative and dare to break industry norms

Have something unique to offer -- the digital world is moving fast and we need to move with it. Think outside the square.

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