08

Aug

Taking on a New Client

By Bill Hoversten

TakingOnNew

At Crier we love the work we do – and clients on whose behalf we put ourselves on the firing line. So taking on a new client is a careful and important process. We always ask ourselves these questions:

– Is the prospective company a non-competitor with our current clients?

Do they have a good story to tell?

– Do their products ideally target the lifestyles-of-health-and-sustainabilitydemographic?

– Do their products taste good?

– Are those products attractively packaged?

– Does the company have (or are they on track to attain) national distribution?

– Do they have an adequate marketing budget?

How do we first connect with prospective clients? Sometimes they find us – through a web search or referrals from current or past clients and others.

Other times we find them.

For example, I might try a product, like it, then research the company and contact them.

I also attend trade shows, like the Natural Products Expo or the Fancy Food Show. Often it’s a food product I’ll have a chance to try. Since we have a special practice in healthy foods, I’ll check out the ingredients, ascribed benefits, sourcing and manufacturing practices, etc.

As long as it isn’t in the same category as a current client, I’ll taste it and think ahead, asking myself how a reporter, editor, producer, or assignment editor might respond to sampling this product. If the food is healthy but tastes bland, we won’t be able to generate as much media interest. If it tastes incredible but has, say, a large amount of high-fructose corn syrup, we won’t get anywhere with media contacts who cover healthy foods.

There are other considerations to be taken into account as well: How attractively is the product packaged? Does it have a clean look? Fetching logo? Colorful design?

Finally, there’s an intangible sort of impression of the company’s booth. Is it an attractive presentation that speaks well of their attention to detail? And – most importantly – what kind of chemistry is there with the people at the booth?

Even if other factors click, I tend to walk by booths where there are, say, a couple of jaded-looking older guys slumped down in their chairs, checking their watches, and looking like they’re dying to get away from this drudgery and smoke a cigarette!

Conversely, I’ve met people – especially owners of small start-ups – who were passionate about their venture and their products. Often I’ll inquire what led them to start the company; there may be a very personal motivation such as the illness or death of someone close to them – and now their mission is to help others better their lives. This makes for a great personal story that I believe might deserve to be told both in consumer and trade media outlets.

Of course, finances are an important consideration. Too often very promising new ventures are undercapitalized.

But if there’s a strong connection, and I believe in what they company is doing, I’ll stay in touch, root for them, and look for ways to be of help even if they can’t yet afford to become a client. It’s the building of a relationship that down the road may eventually bring the prospect on board as a Crier client.

But even if we never end up working with them, I’m personally glad to have been of service to good people doing good things in the world. And – in the bigger picture – isn’t that what our lives should be about?

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