In a former life I worked for a pretty good size company in the B2C world. They were a major footwear catalog company and over time each of their catalog brands had websites and full-blown ecommerce efforts.
Something I saw during my time there was that this company, established and of pretty good size, was not afraid to work with a startup.
There is a feeling among some startups that they should start with small clients and work their way up. That might be a fine strategy, but there is no good reason a startup couldn’t land a big client or two or more if they want to and feel it’s the best approach.
What Big Companies Care About
Big companies always keep an eye toward new ways of acquiring customers.
That’s true for both B2Bs and B2Cs. That’s the biggest challenge for any company. New customers are the way for any company to grow. You can grow by upselling to existing clients, but you can only drain so much. You need new clients.
For the most part, big companies have at least one and usually multiple ways to bring in new customers. But they’re always looking for new channels and lower cost ways to acquire customers.
And big companies know that it’s often startup companies that bring change to industries. It’s weird, but as companies get bigger they kind of get set in their ways and innovation can be lost.
It can take a startup to come into the game to bring something new, fresh, different and effective.
One example might be a company using one design firm. That company looks at the website design and thinks that it’s been working just fine. No need to change it.
But another design firm presents a website design that focuses on both looking good and on conversion. That’s appealing to any company looking for new customers.
Another example might be a firm that handles online advertising. They get a groove and maintain the status quo. But then another provider steps in with a new software that can automate online advertising and go into more personalization and depth and scale. that’s appealing and a way to bring in new customers.
People Work At Big Companies
It’s easy to look at a big brand and only see the logo. Those logos can be intimidating. We think about all the clout that those big brans have and we figure that we shouldn’t even try to work with them. Why would they work with us?
But people, just like you and anyone else, work at those brands. Those people have the pressure to continually look for improvement at those big brands. They are receptive to new ideas. It doesn’t mean they will act on them all, but they’ll often listen.
So approach big companies by thinking about the people you can approach and what their goals and motivations are. If you focus on that angle it becomes less intimidating to reach out to big brands even if you’re a startup and even if you’re a startup with zero clients.
When you are building your startup you’ll be thinking about what’s best for you and the company. That’s natural, but to make sales to big companies or to any company you’ll need to focus on what they want and what they need. Usually that is more new customers. If you focus your pitch on that and focus on the people behind the brand you can make a sale to a big brand even as your first client.
It happens all the time. The only barrier is your own fear for approaching the big brand. Get past that and you’ll have no limits to the type of clients you can land.