Oct 12

No small clients here

One of the things I’ve learned during my time with Sabo PR is you never know where a cup of coffee or a seemingly small engagement might lead you.

Earlier this year, we were asked to help with a “small” project for an organization we had connected with on behalf of another client. We were honored they thought of us and gladly stepped in to lend some design skills for a proposal. As we were wrapping up that project, the client asked if we could help out with a few more “small” things – absolutely, we said. The client loved the work, which was limited to an occasional design project here and there.

Fast forward: the organization has some major growth opportunities and reached out once again. This time, the scope of work is significant and expected to last nearly two years.

What started as a shared connection moved into a fun one-off project and then into a large opportunity for us as an agency. It’s stories like these that solidify our belief that there is no “small client.” You never know when someone comes knocking on the door what capacity they may have – even if it’s down the road.

In fact, Sabo PR made one of its most important and long-standing connections thanks to a “small” favor. Mary Ann received a call on a Friday morning before a long holiday weekend from a partner at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP. The firm had just secured a reversal at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in an intellectual property fight over creative ownership of the famous Taco Bell Chihuahua. The firm represented two men who created the concept, which Taco Bell appropriated as its own without compensating them.

The partner thought it would be great if we could get a “little story” in The Grand Rapids Press. Mary Ann quickly got up to speed on the case, crafted a media pitch and began dialing. The story hit all the major wire services and was picked up by media across the country and around the globe, including as the lead story in Saturday’s Press. Mary Ann used that as the opportunity to parlay a favor into a client relationship. Warner has now been one of our largest clients for nearly 18 years.

And we have countless more stories similar to this.

When we begin work with a new client, we try to treat them with the high-touch service we’ve come to be known for. It’s how we like to think we’ve built loyalty with our clients over the years. In fact, when I was a client, I truly felt as if I was Sabo PR’s one and only. I remember I would call Mary Ann and she would act as if she was just sitting there waiting for my call. Of course, being on this side of the desk now, I know that’s not the case – but that commitment to customer service has stuck with me years later.

Our social contract is often brought up in discussions as we are selling new business. It’s the 10 principles we live by as an agency. Our No. 1 rule is clients come first. It’s intentional that caring for our clients tops the list as we would not exist without them. And we mean every single client.

Approaching the concept of “no small client” needs to come from a genuine place. If your motive is to first sell more business and second do good work, it will show. Diving into each engagement with excitement, passion and interest will lead to a better end result – and, we hope, a happy client.

We find our best business development comes from our clients. They can speak to the value we bring to the table and the outcomes we provide for them. That’s why treating each and every one of them well is not just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do.


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