How a Small Agency Can Land a Big Client Like Mondelez

Agency Scout Debra Giampoli Offers Up Her Dos and Don'ts

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Landing a big client can seem impossible when you're a small agency. But companies like Mondelez International are always on the lookout for up-and-comers.

Deb Giampoli
Deb Giampoli 

At Ad Age's Small Agency Conference in Portland, Ore., Debra Giampoli, the agency scout for Mondelez, shared tips on how to get her attention. Here are some of her dos and don'ts:

Do have a story to tell. Make sure your shop has a compelling story about who you are and what you do. If you want to punch above your weight, have more than a capabilities deck to show.

Do know how to articulate your strategy and talk about your work. "The bar is just as high for small agencies as it is for big ones," Ms. Giampoli said. Great work is every agency's best calling card, she added.

Do invite prospective clients to your office. Ms. Giampoli said she likely wouldn't work with an agency whose space she hasn't visited.

Do make yourself visible. Approach marketing executives through mutual connections, conferences or writing white papers on interesting topics. "If you're really good at what you do, I will find you… When you do get found, have a great story to tell" about who you are and what you do.

Don't cold call potential clients without doing your homework. Ms. Giampoli said she won't work with an agency that hasn't researched her role and what she values in agencies. If you are going to cold call, she said, the only chance you have is if you've done your homework.

Don't send out LinkedIn invites if you haven't met. Ms. Giampoli said she guards her LinkedIn connections closely and only accepts requests from people she knows personally.

Don't bother with newsletters. Ms. Giampoli said she rarely reads agency newsletters, even from shops she loves.

Don't expect a meeting to lead to an immediate assignment. "I don't believe in love at first sight," said Ms. Giampoli, likening her process to dating in that she usually doesn't have a project in mind when contacting an agency. "I might meet you and like you a lot, but that doesn't mean that something's going to happen quickly."

Don't be a general agency with a mediocre offering. Ms. Giampoli said it's far better to be a shop with a smaller, more specialized offering than a jack-of-all-trades without anything compelling.

But even if Ms. Giampoli – or other executives like her -- doesn't know much about your agency, don't feel like being small is too big a hurdle to working with a large client. "I get emails from small agencies all the time apologizing for being small…Don't apologize for being small."

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