How Far Will I Go to Land a Client?

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MARC BROWNSTEIN: I’m leaving for the airport in a few hours, to board a plane to South Africa. Now, the lure of seeing lions, and tigers and — what was the last one? — in their natural habitat is certainly appealing. But the real reason I’m traveling 25 hours by plane is to attend a conference in Cape Town, where C-level decision makers from all around the globe will be gathering. Sure I’ll learn a thing or two. Who doesn’t bring home an idea that they pick up at a conference?

Even more appealing is the possibility of meeting a client CEO, who is pissed off at his marketing agency, and ready to move his multi-million-dollar account. Ah, the hunt for new business. Some of us network in our respective communities — join boards, build relationships over meals, crank out press releases about the latest news from our agencies, send waves of mailings. And those are all smart. Brownstein Group subscribes to that. And they work.

However, the question occurred to me as I was packing last night: how far will most agencies go to network for business development purposes?

The answer is easy for me: my father and I have always believed that we will seek out a client relationship anywhere that makes sense. Translation: if it’s a company in London; we had good odds of winning; and their marketing budget was big enough to justify the travel, why wouldn’t we pursue it? Domestically, we apply the same logic.

Ironically, we have found that our agency is more appealing to clients outside of our marketplace. See, we’ve been in business for 42 years. Everyone in Philly knows us, or has heard of us. Which can sometimes lead to local clients taking us for granted. Client companies many miles away, however, find us to be a bit more exotic. A taste they haven’t yet sampled.

So it’s off to Africa. Packed my Ambien for the flight. And my business cards for the hunt.
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