One day, this email landed in my inbox:
Yup, that’s friggin’ DOM PERIGNON asking me to do their event calligraphy.
(And asking if I could re-create a style that is MILES APART from my usual modern calligraphy.)
This request, and how I responded… well it taught me a lot about how to get corporate clients.
So I’m sharing my top three lessons with you today.
The easiest way to land a corporate client (or any client really) is to be referred by a trusted source.
Ok, this might sound a little obvious but it’s worth discussing.
Think about whenever you’re looking for a service proivder. A calligrapher, a contractor, a wedding photographer, whatever. What do you do first? You ask your friends if they can recommend anyone.
The people who work at corporations… they’re just like you. They have busy jobs and lives. They’re probably planning a dozen events, rounding up VIP guests, and trying to get everything lined up. Finding a calligrapher is the LAST THING on their list.
So they’re not going to spend time googling, or looking on Instagram. They’re going to ask someone they trust for a recommendation.
The obvious next question is: how do I get “in” with these trusted sources?
The answer: you put yourself out there! (Did I hear a collective groan there?)
Here’s how I got Dom Perignon in my inbox:
I applied for the UniqueLA Markets and paid to be a vendor in several of their pop-up markets.
I got to know Sonja Rasula, the founder of UniqueLA, by chatting with her whenever I saw her at the markets and sending her a thoughtful Christmas card.
Sonja asked me to do live calligraphy at one of her events.
A small event planning duo saw me at Sonja’s event and took my business card.
Months later, the event planning duo asked me to come do live calligraphy at one of their events.
Months after that, they recommend me to Dom Perignon, who was looking for a new calligrapher for their Los Angeles events.
You know Sonja, from step 2? She’s what you call a CONNECTOR. She knows people. She throws events. She gets invited to parties. Getting to know her was one of the best things I ever did for my business.
So, try and find the connectors in your area. It might be the person who runs your local Rising Tide Society chapter. It might be joining a local wedding planners association. It might be introducing yourself to the chic stationery store in town that does the cutest invites.
PREPARE TO BE FLEXIBLE FOR CORPORATE CLIENTS
When Dom Perignon first emailed me, they asked for a style that was WAY OUTSIDE my comfort zone.
I was known for swoopy, casual, modern calligraphy.
What they wanted was stiff, formal, traditional calligraphy.
So did I write back and say "I'm so honored, but I don't feel comfortable doing such a formal style" ???...
I wrote back within 90 minutes and said, "Absolutely. Here are a couple samples of styles I can do that are very close to the one you want."
I sent them the photo below and they hired me on the spot.
After a few placecard jobs using the brand-new formal alphabet I created from scratch, the client wanted a completely DIFFERENT style for another champagne brand that they own:
And then yet another style for a third champagne brand of theirs:
The point is, corporate clients will often have a particular style they are looking for. Some may even show you a style guide or reference document that they want you to match as closely as possible.
Being able to come up with different calligraphy styles will make it A NO-BRAINER for corporate clients to hire you.
If you want to learn my “STYLE CREATION SYSTEM” - the step-by-step method I use to create endless calligraphy alphabets to match my clients’ needs… then you’ll want to check out my Intermediate Calligraphy Course: Modern Calligraphy 201
MAKE THEIR LIVES EASIER AND THEY WILL KEEP HIRING YOU
Remember what I said before about corporate clients being really busy?
I mean, who do you like working with at YOUR day job? The person who who just reacts to everything, and does an adequate job, but only when they’re reminded? Or the person who anticipates your needs, makes stuff easier for you to handle, and keeps an eye out for potential issues so they don’t become huge problems?
The SECOND PERSON is the obvious choice. Why? Because they make your life easier!
That’s what you need to do for corporate clients (or any clients, for that matter).
When that first Dom Perignon email landed in my inbox, I responded within two hours, offered them concrete photos of the styles I could do, clearly explained my pricing, and outlined the next steps if they chose to work with me.
And the client was clearly delighted by how EASY I was to work with.
So don’t wait for the client to ask you for every little detail. Instead, anticipate their needs, think proactively, bring up any issues you see so that they know you’re going the extra mile. And of course, deliver impeccable, error-free work.
You may have to be a bit more flexible with your time, too, but here’s the thing. You can charge more with corporate clients - they have budgets for things like calligraphy. So, make them feel like a priority and they’ll keep coming back to you.
So those are my top three tips for landing corporate clients for your calligraphy business!
Let me know if this was helpful down in the comments. And then go out and start making connections, you calligraphy business boss, you =)
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