Episode 097: Show Notes
We are super excited for today’s episode with Becky Mollenkamp. Not only is Becky our friend, but she is a business mentor for women entrepreneurs. She helps them write down all those words that are stuck in their head so they can make some big changes and push forward in their businesses. Becky is also an absolute rock star at landing corporate clients and today we’re lucky enough to be getting the inside scoop from her.
Ever wonder, “How the heck do I, as a creative, get into the inboxes of corporate businesses and land those bigger projects?” Well, today Becky is sharing her tips and tricks with us. She’s also telling us how we can utilize programs like LinkedIn to up our connections, up our chances of getting in front of those people and so much more. If you’re interested in finding out more about this, keep listening to the show.
Why Corporate Clients?
Becky’s background is creative and corporate and when she left the corporate world it seemed like a natural fit to continue working with corporate clients. In the beginning, it meant working with the same publishing company and a few other magazines, but then the world changed and magazines weren’t what they used to be. Becky had to shift her focus and find other clients to write for. A lot of people don’t think about corporate clients because they assume that they’re stuffy and they don’t need creatives. But the truth is that even the stuffiest corporation still has marketing materials, they still have to promote their business, and they still need people to write blog posts, it’s just a different kind of environment. A lot of times we just discount them, assuming they’re not our fit, but corporate clients need people like us and they’ve got big, deep pocketbooks. There are many benefits to working with corporate clients — in addition to having those big pocketbooks, they tend to be more receptive to retainers. Having those kinds of clients lets you have the stability of passive income, which takes so much of the stress out of running your own business. They are also less likely to haggle over every last penny because they have bigger budgets.
Creative Freedom within a Corporate Setting
The level of creative freedom that you’ll get within a corporate setting depends on the client. Very often, corporate clients or their companies have a firm idea of what it is they need and so they are looking for someone to do a specific thing. They also tend to be a little more hands off, although every client is different. Becky’s experience has been that most of them don’t have the time to micro-manage every contractor they’re using, so they get really clear about what it is they need. However, once they hand it off it’s kind of your baby until you turn it in. There is some freedom in that, because you’re not having someone watching everything you’re doing or questioning every little thing because they’re so close to it. There may not be as much freedom in terms of being governed by the corporation with strict rules of what you can and cannot do, but it might just be worth it.
Finding the Right Fit
One of the biggest things that holds creatives back from approaching corporate clients is the fear of rejection. A lot of people don’t want to work with those unsexy businesses, which is another reason that creatives don’t reach out. When Becky talks about corporate clients she really means people like lawyers, doctors and plastic surgeons, businesses that probably aren't sexy or fun. This doesn’t mean giant brands, but rather anyone who has a website or brochures and needs a little creative help, which is pretty much everyone. For Becky, when she started out it was more about what experience she had, so she started doing some freelance writing while working with her corporate client. She had a little experience in a few niche industries, so she looked at where her knowledge was and how she could use it to benefit her work. She started just approaching people. At first, you approach a lot of people and don’t get that much return. You have to be able to handle rejection, but also know that the more niche you go, the better your chances.
Using LinkedIn as A Tool to Approach Clients
LinkedIn has been the number one driver of Becky’s business. The amount of time that you have to spend on LinkedIn isn’t that significant, and it is so worth it if you’re trying to land this type of client. So many people think LinkedIn is just an online resume and that’s how they treat it. If that’s the approach you’re taking, then you’re not going to get any traffic from it. You might think that LinkedIn isn’t doing anything for you, but the reality is that you’re not doing anything for LinkedIn. It’s like any other social site — you really have to work it if you want it to work for you. The most important basic thing to start with is optimizing your bio. Instead of just throwing up some clever title, really answer the question, “How can I help this customer?”. Think through who it is you want to help or what it is you can provide for corporate clients. Make that one line bio that appears under your name, something really clear that tells them what you do.
The Daily Use of LinkedIn
For Becky, a few people have found her by looking for client marketing. Another way her clients find her is through the content she creates content specifically for LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, Becky creates separate content specifically targeted to corporate clients. LinkedIn has its own system/platform for content which is called Pulse. You use it just like you would your website. You can copy and paste your blog post but you can also create content that is specifically for that audience, which might be something that is totally separate if you’re trying to court corporate clients rather than creatives. There are ways to tag things when you’re going to post them and you can use different keywords. Just like any other platform, LinkedIn gives preference to original content, so your followers are more likely to see original posts than shared links. As a writer, it makes a lot of sense to share that type of content. It’s also a great way to show people your authority, no matter what you do. When Becky is more consistent with LinkedIn, she does better. She tries to post original content at least once a week. Becky encourages you to accept people who want to connect with you on LinkedIn.
Connecting With Other Corporates
Getting familiar with associations in industries that you’re interested in is important. It also depends on your efforts and the niche you’re in. If you can find some industries that could do with your services and you know you'd be a good fit for them, target them, and find out what the business associations are. Do your research and learn as much as you can. Find out what trade shows, events and networking events are in your town. You can even join some business associations to help connect you with certain people — you can glean a lot of information from their websites. They often have member lists with email addresses, so you can find out who is doing what and you can see who would likely be a good fit for your services and you can reach out to them. It’s also a great way to get educated about that industry so that if you do target these people, you really do know what is going on in their industry. The more niched down you get, the more specific to that industry, the better your chances, because they don’t have that many people out there to do their creative work that understand what they do. If you can be that person for them, go for it.
Determining Your Pricing Structure
Firstly, always ask the client what their budget is before you give them any numbers. If people push back and demand to know what your rate is, tell them, but try to find out about their budget first. As creatives, we have this tendency to devalue ourselves and most of the time the corporate client’s budget is higher than your price. So don't underprice yourself. You can charge corporates more because if you're designing something that’s going to be seen by thousands of people, you should be charging more. The value of your service is higher. Definitely think about how big your client is and what the reach of your design will be, as it all plays a role in determining your price. You should not have standard pricing, because you need to know the scope of the project, how much work is going to be involved, what the expectations are, who will see it and how it’s going to be used. All of those things should affect your pricing. Find out their budget and start charging more.
Why it’s a great opportunity as a creative to work with corporate clients. [0:03:29.1]
Hear more about your creative freedom when working with corporate clients. [0:06:10.1]
Finding the right fit for you and your business and approaching people. [0:08:40.1]
Using LinkedIn as a tool in your business to approach and land clients. [0:10:53.1]
Using LinkedIn on a daily basis so it works for you in your business. [0:13:02.1]
Other ways and events that have led to connecting with corporate clients. [0:22:13.1]
Determining your pricing structure within the corporate industry. [0:27:56.1]
Optimize your bio — make it clear what you do
Create an editorial calendar
Start making connections
Follow up with those people
Participate in groups