Apparently we are now well into British summer time, but judging from the strange multi-seasonal weather we have been experiencing lately you could have fooled us. Nevertheless, as the blossom finally begins to bloom on the trees and the world begins to come alive with the vibrancy of summer, it is definitely a good time to think about how you will cultivate all the plants in your garden; i.e your clientele.
Forgive the abstract comparison, but anyone reading this who has ever tried their hand at gardening will know the importance of tending to the smaller flowers in their garden.
With the right amount of nurturing, care and attention the smaller plants in your garden will sprout into the showcases of your garden. Likewise your clientele is very similar. The small clients in your clientele may start out as just tiny saplings, but with the same care and time they will grow into something wonderful.
So, seeing as it is summer time now it's definitely a good time to consider why you should cultivate your smaller clients and help them grow into something wonderful.
In web-design it is commonplace that many agencies choose not to work with smaller clients. Ok, it comes across as a bit harsh but from a ruthless business perspective the reasons are often legit. There are fears that circulate around smaller companies, such as budgets that are so meagre you can't provide any reasonable resources or dedicate enough time to make it worthwhile for the pay you will receive at the end of it; sadly harsh but true. Secondly, when compared to larger companies, it's almost a no-brainer that you would choose the larger one; the latter may have more of a reputation, thus building your own by working with them, a higher budget and a certainty to pay you at the end of it all.
Though once you put these fears aside, there are also plenty of reasons why you should work with a smaller client. If you want to have the most impressive garden then you have to look after each flower as an individual; this is also true for your clientele.
Every Apple was a once a seed
This is true on a number of levels. Every successful company had their beginnings as a small start-up once. Many of the world dominating the companies and digital agencies had the odds stacked against them in their young stages; Apple famously had it's humble beginnings in the confines of Steve Job's garage and eventually grew to into the tech giant that we know today; from a garage in 1976 to the household name that we all recognise today. You never know if that small company you are working with is going to become the next big player in the industry. Imagine if you had turned down a chance to work with a company like Apple in their first when they were starting up; you would be severely kicking yourself right now. So the next time a small company approach you, listen to what they have to say; who knows you could become known as the agency that nurtured the next Apple.
Build a network
Networking with figureheads is essential in the web-design industry and everybody seems to know somebody who needs a website. If you look after a small client now, there is the possibility that they will forward you to another client, and so on. As well as building yourself a robust network in the industry, you will also pick up some very important contacts along the way. As companies grow, people switch roles and move to other companies, if you have done a good job for a client then that won't be forgotten. Where your clients go, they carry your reputation with them and these things spread. Taking on smaller clients gives your company the chance to grow outwards and deeper into the industry.
Ease of contact
There are few things that are more frustrating than a lack of direct contact with your client; ideas get skewed, conversations diluted; all-in-all the end product becomes a warped version of what the project was supposed to be based on the first client briefing. With big companies, this is common, therefore you spend more time going back over a project, which can often spoil a relationship between you and a client. When working with a smaller client it is far easier to get in direct contact with the person you need to speak to. Consequently you will find that your projects are of a higher quality, more consistent and as a result they will not only serve the clients function but will also look fantastic in your own project showroom.
Smaller clients are often neglected
This is sad but very true. Many clients are often neglected purely on the basis that they are small.This leads to many amazing ideas not seeing the light of day. Just because a client is small it doesn't mean that their idea isn't worth being noticed. Sometimes the greatest ideas need the backing from a bigger source to get them in motion; in many cases you are the bigger source. If along the way you do help a smaller client with a great idea and they do make it into the worldwide league of the digital industry, they certainly won't fail to mention the company that helped them out when no one else would.
And what it boils down to...
It is completely understandable that you wouldn't want to take too much of a risk where your business is concerned; sometimes small clients can carry far too much of a risk to allow you to take them on board. Usually it is the financial implications of a small client that stir these fears. Nevertheless, presumption is the Mother of all mistakes; you really never know how much a client has to spend on a project until you really get down to talking business with them. So don't discard that small client on merely face value alone.
Of course, it is impossible to know exactly where a client will lead you. Sometimes you do have to walk away from a client, but after considering these points maybe the next time that you are approached by a smaller client you won't just pass them by because of their size. Remember that your clientele is like your garden. You need to help the plants grow.