A new business model is gaining traction amongst marketing and event agencies. Here’s how to implement it.
Years back, I was sitting in a meeting room across from a CEO of a strong event agency in Detroit. I was there to interview for a full-time position as a web designer, and was excited for the opportunity. The agency had tons of regular top-name clients who did business with them on a daily basis, and they were set to hit 10M+ earnings by the following year. I was sure that a position like this would provide a ton of job security, which back then was the thing that mattered most to me.
My offer was turned down.
It was obvious before he even said so, but before it got that far, I asked him what reason he had not to hire me. The agency was already one of my top clients, and they were very fond with the work I did. And they were getting more and more jobs each day which required web design work. What reason would he have not to staff a web developer to the agency?
The reason, he told me, was because they weren’t a web design agency; therefore, they weren’t interested in hiring any web developers.
“Well, you are a marketing agency,” I pointed out. “You offer event coordination and video production. By hiring me, you could add web development to your list of services you have to offer. Your existing clients who need event and video services would come to you with their web design needs as well.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be known to your clients as a web design company?” I asked him.
This is when the CEO told me something very interesting. He said the reason for the exponential growth of his company over the last few years wasn’t accredited to introducing the company as an event planning company, a video production company, a marketing company, or a web design company, even though they did do all those things.
“What I want people to know us as,” he explained, “is a solutions company. Clients come to us with problems, and we solve for them. Clients are looking for experiences, not events. Clients are looking for results, not videos. Those are the types of products we sell.”
What he was saying was true. More and more marketing-based agencies are starting to realize that providing solutions rather than services will attract more clients. Many times, they are unsure how to manage the things they need done—and are hoping that your company can help do that for them.
When marketing companies use the old approach of saying “Come to us if you need an event planned, or a video created, or a website designed,” their customers will do just that. In that scenario, it becomes completely up to them when to call on you for business. And if those times are few and far between, it’s very likely they will forget you altogether.
That is, unless you check up on them. Hello Tom from Company XYZ, how are you doing, do you or anyone you know happen to need an event coordinated? No? Okay. This can often come off as annoying and, more importantly, does not offer your client any favors. Instead, you might ask to arrange a meeting with Tom to ask about the issues Company XYZ is facing, and how your agency might be able to solve them under one budget, one job, one fell swoop.
Or better yet, after the meeting, get your team together analyze the problem, discover a solution, and then pitch the idea to the company. Become an establishment that, rather than offers specific services, solves problems. It takes a little bit more effort than waiting for the work you do best to come to you, but as a benefit gives off a reputation of trust, knowledge and expertise.
Industries are slowly learning that becoming customer oriented yields more revenue. It’s a rule that’s taught to interviewees, freelancers, and client-facing employees alike. The truth stands that people care most about themselves and their problems. And offering a tailored solution to those problems sounds a whole lot more appealing than a promise that your service is better than all the other ones.
After the meeting, I altered my approach when applying for a job at the same company a few months later. I went in offering the same services as before, but tailored to their schedule and their needs. I showed them how projects they had done before could be augmented with web technology for a bigger budget. I also offered not to take a salary in favor of a much higher hourly rate as a contract employee instead. This time it was a no-brainer.
Solutions sell. Step forward with your client in mind, and you’ll be rewarded gratefully.