attracting bigger clients for your design agency - an article by Dave Holloway, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

How to attract bigger clients for your design agency

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Sir Isaac Newton aged 23 staring at an apple in his hand as he formulates his gravitational theory, apple orchard, documentary photography by Nan Goldin –ar 16:9 –v 6.0

Attracting bigger, more lucrative contracts is the primary goal for many design agencies. After all, the bigger the budget, the greater the profit. It also brings greater opportunities to flex your creative muscles and deliver world-class work. For many creatives, that is the true end game.

But getting to that point is hard. Doing so involves not only understanding the challenges of running a creative agency but also strategically addressing your shortcomings.

As someone who has spent a large part of his professional life growing a design agency, I understand what it takes to move from servicing the needs of the local builder to those of publicly traded multinationals.

In my latest article, I explore a few elements that design agencies need to address to raise their game and start securing those bigger contracts.

Ready to take things up a level? Then let’s dive in!

Challenges of Running a Creative Agency

The design industry is dynamic and fiercely competitive, presenting a myriad of challenges for agency owners. From staying ahead of trends to managing client expectations, it’s essential to recognise and address these hurdles. In an era where visual aesthetics play a pivotal role, creative agencies need to be adaptive, innovative, and consistently deliver top-notch designs.

Building a Quality Portfolio

Your portfolio is a virtual showcase of your agency’s capabilities. To attract bigger clients, it’s not just about the quantity of work but the quality. Each project in your portfolio should tell a story, demonstrating your agency’s ability to understand and meet client objectives. Include diverse projects that showcase your versatility, ensuring potential clients see the breadth of your skills.

Consider segmenting your portfolio to cater to different market verticals, allowing clients to quickly identify relevant examples of your work. A visually appealing and user-friendly website is equally crucial – it serves as the first point of contact for potential clients and it the yardstick they will use to judge you against your competitors

attracting larger clients for your design agency - an article by Dave Holloway, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

Robust Case Studies with Impactful Figures

Case studies are powerful tools to showcase the real-world impact of your designs. Instead of just presenting visuals, delve into the specifics of each project. Include before-and-after comparisons, client testimonials, and, most importantly, quantifiable results.

For instance, highlight how a website redesign resulted in a 30% increase in user engagement or how a branding overhaul led to a 20% growth in brand recognition. Such figures add credibility to your work and demonstrate the tangible value your agency brings.

winning bigger customers for your design agency - an article by Dave Holloway, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

Focus on Strong Market Verticals

Identifying and focusing on strong market verticals is a strategic move that can significantly enhance your agency’s appeal to bigger clients. Conduct market research to determine industries where there’s a demand for your design expertise. Tailor your marketing efforts, portfolio, and case studies to align with the unique needs and challenges of those verticals.

This targeted approach not only makes your agency more attractive to potential clients but also positions you as an expert within specific niches. Bigger clients are more likely to engage with an agency that understands their industry and has a track record of success within it.

attracting bigger clients for your creative agency - an article by Dave Holloway, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

Specialise and Be a Market of One

In a crowded marketplace, specialisation is a key differentiator. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, focus on becoming a master of one or two key areas. This approach not only helps you stand out but also positions your agency as the go-to expert in a particular niche.

For example, if your agency excels in e-commerce website design, position yourself as the leading expert in that field. This focused specialisation makes it easier for potential clients to associate your agency with their specific needs, increasing the likelihood of securing bigger projects within your chosen niche.

Upping Your Game to Win Them

Attracting the attention of bigger clients is just the beginning – the real challenge lies in convincing them that your agency is the perfect fit for their requirements. Here’s how to up your game and win them over:

Crafting Irresistible Proposals

Your proposals are not just documents; they are persuasive narratives that can make or break a deal. To craft irresistible proposals:

  1. Provide Detailed Solutions: Go beyond generic solutions. Break down the proposed project into specific actionable steps, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the client’s needs. Present a roadmap that showcases how your agency will navigate challenges and deliver exceptional results.
  2. Highlight Success Stories: Incorporate success stories from similar projects in your proposal. This serves as social proof, assuring potential clients that your agency has a proven track record of overcoming challenges and delivering outstanding outcomes.
  3. Customer Testimonials: Integrate customer testimonials into your proposals. Including positive feedback from previous clients reinforces your agency’s credibility and provides prospective clients with insights into the positive experiences of others. Testimonials can serve as powerful endorsements of your agency’s professionalism, expertise, and ability to deliver on promises.
  4. Timeline and Milestones: Clearly outline the project timeline and key milestones. This not only instils confidence in your project management capabilities but also sets expectations for the client regarding the progress of the project.

Focus on the Value You Provide

Bigger clients are not just looking for a design service; they are seeking value and a measurable return on their investment. When communicating with potential clients:

  1. Demonstrate Long-Term Impact: Illustrate how your designs contribute to the long-term success of a client’s business. Whether it’s through increased customer loyalty, improved market positioning, or sustained growth, showcasing the enduring impact of your work strengthens your value proposition.
  2. Collaborative Approach: Emphasise your agency’s commitment to collaboration. Highlight instances where your team worked seamlessly with clients to achieve shared goals. This collaborative approach not only fosters positive client relationships but also results in designs that align closely with the client’s vision.
  3. Personalisation: Tailor your communication to address the unique goals and challenges of each potential client. Avoid generic pitches and instead, showcase how your agency’s expertise can be specifically applied to meet their individual needs.
  4. Client Education: Educate potential clients on the intricacies of design and how strategic, well-executed designs can impact their business. Position your agency as a trusted advisor, guiding clients through the design process and helping them make informed decisions.
getting bigger contracts for your design agency - an article by Dave Holloway, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

Continuous Improvement for Lasting Success

Success isn’t a destination; it’s a journey. To continuously improve and maintain lasting success:

  1. Adopt Emerging Technologies: Stay abreast of emerging technologies in the design space. Whether it’s incorporating augmented reality, virtual reality, or the latest design software, integrating cutting-edge technologies into your projects showcases your agency’s commitment to innovation.
  2. Strive for Excellence in Every Project: Make it a mantra to make every creative project better than the last. Challenge your team to surpass their previous achievements by setting higher standards for creativity, functionality, and client satisfaction. This commitment to excellence not only ensures the continuous improvement of your agency’s output but also contributes to an ever-evolving portfolio that attracts bigger clients.
  3. Implement Client Feedback Loops: Establishing robust feedback loops with clients is crucial for ongoing improvement. Actively seek feedback at various stages of a project and use this input to make necessary adjustments. Understanding what worked well and areas for improvement from the client’s perspective is invaluable in refining your processes.
  4. Encourage a Culture of Innovation: Foster a culture within your agency that encourages innovation. Allocate time for brainstorming sessions, experimentation with new design techniques, and exploration of emerging trends. A culture of innovation not only keeps your team engaged but also positions your agency as a forward-thinking industry leader.
  5. Invest in Professional Development: Prioritise the continuous learning and development of your team. Invest in training programmes, workshops, and industry conferences to keep your designers up-to-date with the latest tools and design methodologies. A skilled and knowledgeable team is an asset that contributes to the overall success of your agency.
  6. Celebrate Successes and Learn from Setbacks: Whether it’s a successful campaign or a project with challenges, take the time to celebrate successes and learn from setbacks. Recognise the efforts of your team, analyse what contributed to success, and identify areas for improvement. This reflective approach ensures that each project becomes a stepping stone for future accomplishments.
attracting bigger clients for your creative agency - an article by Dave Holloway, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

Final word on getting bigger clients for your marketing agency

Attracting bigger clients for your agency is a dynamic process that requires constant refinement and adaptation. By enhancing your proposal strategies, emphasising the long-term value you provide, and continually improving through technology adoption and social responsibility, your agency can stand out in the competitive landscape.

Remember, the journey to securing dream projects is not simple. As well as the strategies addressed here, you will require persistence, a ready supply of creative talent and most probably a good slice of lady luck. But, if the stars align, you stay focused and constantly look a few steps ahead, those landmark contracts are within your grasp. Good luck!

attracting bigger clients for your design agency - an article by Dave Holloway, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK

About the author

Dave Holloway is a highly experienced freelance designer in Leeds (UK). For 16 years, he ran a multi-award-winning creative agency working on a diverse range of projects for world-class clients. He now works in collaboration with creative agencies and directly with clients. Whether setting the direction through intelligent brand strategy, or tactical execution through digital and offline channels, he helps businesses of all sizes to communicate more effectively.