Amy Perry: Keeping Your Agency Top of Mind

Differentiating our clients in their respective marketplaces, gaining the attention of their audiences, and making sure there is a consistent visual and verbal message are fundamental components to the services a marketing and design firm provides. But, when it comes to doing the same for our own firms many of us fail miserably. Promoting ourselves is much more difficult. Why? There are a number of reasons. In general, often we are not comfortable talking about ourselves, nor do we have the objective perspective for which our clients pay us to create clear messages.

For some of us, the majority of our work comes by way of referrals. However, if you rely solely on referrals you may be missing opportunities right in your own backyard. To generate interest — warm leads — you’ve got to get and keep your name top of mind. And, without the mega PR budgets that some of our clients have, we need to be resourceful. We aren’t PR professionals here, but there are some basic steps we follow that, when done consistently and in a timely manner, reap rewards in the way of new clients, as well as industry and public recognition. Here are 6 tips to consider:

1. Build a database of prospects, clients, and media contacts. If you don’t have a database, it will take time to build one, but it’s an essential tool to effectively and consistently communicate with various audiences. We use our database to send out e-blasts, holiday greetings, direct mail pieces, as well as to notify the press of our activities.

2. Send press releases to local, regional, and industry publications when you have something newsworthy to share. Avoid being promotional in your releases. Follow the simple rules of good journalism — who, what, where, when, why, and how. The less fluff and more factual the release the more likely an editor will publish it — many times word for word. Send out releases regularly, but not too often. We typically get a release out every 4-6 weeks.

3. When you have something more newsworthy than landing a new client or winning an award, call the business editor and pitch the story idea. Editors and reporters are always in need of good stories. Many years ago, after many failed attempts to get a story about us in a regional daily newspaper — without a specific news angle — I finally just got annoyed and blurted out, “our clients include the number one pharmaceutical company in the world, the number one submarine builder in the world and the number one compression software company in the world, and we’re located in the little suburb of Waterford, CT. I think there’s a story here!!” They sent a reporter and photographer the next day for a feature story.

4. If you’ve created some great results for a client, approach editors of trade publications specific to your client’s industry. Although we didn’t pitch it, our work for a local construction firm was featured in “Upscale Remodeling” because the client shared the story of their success using direct mail that we had created. Check a publication’s editorial calendar to see what features are planned for the year that may be a good fit for a story.

5. Look for speaking opportunities. Design is very specialized. Many business and community organizations that meet regularly look for speakers from all disciplines to educate and inform their memberships. If you’re uncomfortable speaking in front of large groups, start with something small, such as speaking to a local non-profit. Approach the presentation as you would for a client by making it visually compelling and simple to follow.

6. And the best way to keep top of mind is to give back to and be an active member of your community. Volunteer your talents and services to a cause or organization for which you care. In time it will be returned many times over.

Amy Perry is a principal at Smizer Perry, message + design, a marketing communications and graphic design firm specializing in the business-to-business technology industry. For 24 years the company has helped clients lead in their markets by providing targeted branding, marketing, and design solutions. She can be reached at 860-437-8877, or by emailing aperry@smizerperry.com.

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