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Standing Out with Paul Peterson

September 12, 20227 min read

Business success is all about relationships. And whether it’s your existing clients, prospective clients or your own team members, agencies need to invest in these three major types of relationships if they want to succeed. The other part of that secret sauce is standing out from other agencies that do what you do. So I wanted to sit down with someone who knows the power that differentiating yourself can make. I can’t wait for you to learn from this as part of my series around the challenges and successes agencies face building relationships with three main groups they need to cultivate in order to win—leads, existing clients and other supporting business relationships. In case you missed the first installment, check it out here.

Each article will take lessons on how to strengthen each of these types of relationships. Both to act as inspiration for you and to give you some tactical advice you can use in your own business.

My conversation is with Paul Peterson of Casual Astronaut, a content marketing agency that helps brands attract customers and keep them. And the more I talked to Paul, the more it became clear how stellar he is at standing out from other agencies, whether it’s at an event, during special milestones or the way he treats his employees. “I think it’s definitely hard to constantly chase new ways to make ourselves stand out,” he said. Hard, yes. But definitely worthwhile.

Strategic Gifting Can Help You Stand Out During Events

Stir Up Some Feeling

Here at The Expressory, we know how important it is to nurture your leads and make them feel valued. And that can come in so many forms. Since we are attending more events in light of COVID-19, think about how strategic gifting can help you stand out.

A conference or other event is something that attendees generally remember fondly—especially now because we’ve spent so much of the past two years at home. Consider gifting things that participants will keep around to remind them of the reason they attended the event, ie., something that will bring up fond memories or remind them of the goals they’re working to achieve after participating in the event. Stirring up good feelings will make attendees want to keep your gift, and they’ll think of you when they see it.

Support Those Who Support the Attendee

In addition to making your leads feel valued, what if you could make their support system feel that same way? This is one way Paul said you can differentiate yourself from other agencies because most are just focusing on the lead. “Whenever you go to a conference, you always have to bring something back for your kids,” he explained. “Instead of doing t-shirts for adults, we created these really great t-shirts for kids that say ‘future astronaut’ because we’re Casual Astronaut, and that got a really great response. It helped us stand out because it was something other than the same stress ball or pen that you get at every conference.” Here’s why this tactic works. When you make the child happy, you make the attendee happy. You could also expand this to other people in the attendee’s life, for example, giving an item to their partner or team at work as a thank you for holding down the fort while they’re away. You’re finding a way to make the attendee look good, and you’ll be remembered for that.

Ideas for Nurturing Attendees at an Event

Here are some other tips on how you can use this strategy in your own life.

  1. If you’re speaking at an event, consider leaving the attendees with something related to what you talked about or a takeaway of your research combined with a physical item, ie., some knowledge or takeaways that will be useful for the attendee.

  2. If you’re exhibiting at the event, make sure to collect addresses and send attendees something that reminds them of the event or your work related to the event.

Nurturing Existing Clients

Every year, you lose a percentage of your existing clients simply because you do nothing to maintain the relationship. It goes without saying, but it is so important to keep that momentum going. Here are three things that really stood out to me as Paul was explaining how he differentiates himself with current clients. Follow these tips:

  1. Lean into account services. Most agencies have dedicated account services people on their team to maintain client relationships. Paul likes to think one step ahead and have his team members stay in front of clients with relevant news. “We have a monthly newsletter and emails that go out to stay top-of-mind as a thought leader or as a partner.” Additionally, it’s also important to be responsive and proactive and to continuously share new ideas.

  2. Celebrate the big things. Whether it’s a birthday or another big milestone in a client’s life, celebrating that with them will make you memorable, too. “We lean heavily on a service called Drizly which allows you to send champagne and that sort of stuff, and we do quite a bit of that,” Paul said. What’s so great about this idea is that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to create a lasting impression.

  3. Think outside the box. One thing that’s predictable? Sending your client a Christmas gift. From December to January, offices will be packed with fruit baskets and candy assortments. Paul still wanted to celebrate his clients during the holidays while staying true to his authentic need to help others. “For our holiday gift, we take our entire team and adopt a family. Last year we did two foster homes and another year we adopted a refugee family. We’ll spend a ton of money setting them up to have a great holiday, or with the refugees, outfitting their home with appliances. Then we send a note to our client saying we did this in your honor.” Now, who wouldn’t love that? Think about a cause that’s close to your heart and tie it into holiday gifting. It’s a win-win all around.

Differentiating Yourself as an Employer

Creating a winning culture is so paramount these days in light of the Great Resignation. Business owners need to work harder than ever to keep their employees happy and engaged. And for people who don’t think this is important, think about it this way: An engaged and happy workforce spreads to your clients. It’s all related.

Paul is very transparent in his interactions with clients, and that also holds true with his team. From paying freelancers quickly to being up front about expectations and processes, it makes a difference. To show them that he values them, he tried the run-of-the-mill team activities (think Zoom games and happy hours). But as a new way to connect everyone virtually, he came up with an employee movie day. “We sent gift boxes with snacks and popcorn to each employee and virtually sat down to watch a movie together.” It was a simple gesture with a big impact. Another thing Paul does that makes him stand out as an employer is for a birthday gift, each employee gets a $50 stipend to make toward a charity of their choice. Then they tell the team about which charity they chose and why. “We find ways in which people feel like they have a chance to collaborate even though they can’t be in person together.” Needless to say, creating a caring culture within an organization is a no-brainer. Think about how you can create a more altruistic culture within your work environment and see what type of impact that would have.

Relationships are the cornerstone of what we do at The Expressory. Let's get to know each other and find out if The Expressory can help you grow your brand through personalized experiences. Click here to set up a Marketing Strategy Session or click here to download our free guide for Creating Emotional Loyalty by Design. Let us show you how to design a unique experience that sets you apart.

Jamie Shibley

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