Selling business services to creatives – a how-to guide

The Government estimated last year that the creative industries generate in excess of £10 million an hour for the UK economy.

We are in a creative boom, the sector encompasses a huge range of businesses from architecture, fashion and the arts to robotics, technology and marketing to name but a few.

Business and professional services firms underpin the creative sector by offering everything from legal and accountancy expertise to IT, infrastructure and property. However, selling to creative companies requires a specific set of sales tactics that genuinely meet the needs of the many SMEs, start up and entrepreneurial style companies which represent a huge tranche of this burgeoning sector.

Understanding what motivates these business owners and the commercial challenges they face is the key to creating cut through in an industry which thrives on referrals and networking – get a foot in the door and your new business generation pipeline will thrive.

How do we know this? Firstly, we represent your target market – we are regularly targeted ourselves to buy a range of business services so we know what makes us sit up and take notice. Secondly, we are experts in communications for the creative and tech sectors so we know a little about how to get noticed.

Here’s a few hints and tips to help create the right impression and fuel your business development:

  1. Raise your profile

Peer to peer marketing for this industry works really well. Get on the radar of the industry media titles that your target clients are reading – this may require some advertising investment or, if you have an interesting and compelling take on a relevant topic, you can secure editorial. Make it helpful and advice driven.

Also, look out for speaking opportunities at relevant creative sector events.

  1. Be visible

Inbound lead generation is always great but it won’t happen unless people know who you are and can find you easily. Make sure your online presence is clear, concise and up to date. Creative business owners are often extremely time poor and covering many roles so they need a solutions-based approach from you, quick response times to their questions and a hassle-free approach.

Don’t forget your social media channels should reflect and nod to what’s going on in the creative sector.

  1. Avoid the jargon

As creatives we love jargon and have adopted a whole other language designed to muddle, mystify and make ourselves sound cutting edge. That said, avoid jargon if you are marketing to creative types. Your expertise may be highly technical and hard earned but it’s always off putting to prospects if you can’t explain what you do to an average nine-year-old. This is the rule of thumb we use when writing editorial copy and it translates well into any new business approach.

  1. Review and tailor your service

You are selling to creative people and they appreciate original ideas and tactics for getting their attention. Don’t be afraid – coming across as too ‘corporate’ can make you look unapproachable. Think about how you sell your services – is it complicated or complex? Is the way you describe what you offer clear and straightforward?  Keep it simple and easy to buy. Consider a package of services or incentives/trial periods to secure new business and develop relationships.

  1. Speak the language

‘Creatives’ are often stereotyped for their style, life choices and jargon filled language. Of course much of this comes from reality; the checked shirt, beard and flip flops image brings a smile to most people and is a current ‘creative’ pigeonhole.

While you don’t need to mirror the style of an agency that you may have managed to secure a meeting with, turning up in pin stripes with a briefcase may create too much of a pothole at the start of a meeting. You can certainly afford to adapt and reflect a different image when selling to creatives.

  1. Be adaptable

Get under the skin of your clients’ or prospects’ commercial requirements – remember that many creative businesses are engaging in fast growth strategies with possible ambitions to acquire or be acquired. This means their need for your services may change very quickly. Be prepared to reflect this and see this as an opportunity to develop a long-term relationship.

For more advice on how to maximise your prospecting in the creative sector feel free to get in touch: