Project work is the primary way agencies get business these days, and we’ve talked to firms who are handling way too many smaller projects. It creates an untenable project hamster wheel where your team gets burned out because they’re working just as hard on the smaller projects as they do on the bigger projects.
So how do you get off the hamster wheel, with the understanding that project work is still the primary way through the door?
That’s the subject of our 3 takeaways.
Your first takeaway to get off the project hamster wheel: Tie your professionalism to your story.
What does that mean? I’m speaking specifically to my previous point-getting undercut by a one-man show. What you have that she or he doesn’t? You know how to work on-brand, you know how to follow brand guidelines-working with you is not a crap shoot.
You’re professional, hit deadlines and can be trusted. You probably take these traits for granted about your firm, but they’re important. And while you won’t put those in your elevator pitch right up front, tie it into your story when you need to.
Your second takeaway to get off the project hamster wheel: Take a hard look at your prospect size.
I’m speaking to revenue here, or bed counts or assets under management-however you gauge your prospect size. If you’re getting a lot of smaller projects, first thing to do is consider raising the bar on that revenue-going after more mid-tier companies for example.
It’s not a cure all. I had a meeting with a prospective agency not too long ago, and they do 20-to 30 projects a year for a Fortune 500 company, and they’re certainly not complaining, even the largest companies can have small projects. But looking to increase your prospect size is a solid consideration to make.
And your third takeaway to get off the project hamster wheel-Don’t throw up a capes slide in your first meeting.
That is a first meeting with a new prospect. We see a lot of agencies go into that first meeting and quickly throw up their capes slide, stay there, and rattle off each of those capes. You don’t want to do this for many reasons, but specific to this episode-when you do that, you sound like everybody else with similar services, and while you might still get that project, you’re not notable.
You’ll get pigeon holed, and get a bunch of smaller, similar projects, or get no more projects. If you instead, start with a conversation, and tie in a few stories around work you did that are engaging and show how you solved a challenge, then you become notable. And have a better chance of more meaningful and sizable work.