This is what you need to do you if you want big brands to work with your start-up

Within eight months of pivoting, Fanbytes has secured names such as Universal and YouGov as clients. How? By changing the power dynamic

The Fanbytes journey has been nothing short of a rollercoaster.

From starting the business in 2015 as a social media marketplace connecting brands and influencers, to then turning it into a programmatic Snapchat advertising platform eight months ago – it has been nothing short of a whirlwind.

However, one of the more striking things we’ve noticed since our pivot has been the scale of the customers we now work with.

We’ve landed massive partnerships with some of the world’s biggest brands including Universal, Warner, YouGov, Charlotte Tilbury and WPP, to name a few. And, when I tell people about this, they’ll often give me quizzical looks as to how exactly we’ve been able to secure these large companies as clients.

To shed some light on how we’ve been able to attract these names – and hopefully help you guys to do the same – I’ve shared my tips on what start-ups need to do to get big brands on board…

1. Understand your core competency

I remember our first ever client meeting, set up by a friend, with one of the largest media agencies in the country. I went into the meeting brimming with confidence.

The pitch bombed.

It was horrible and I felt like I’d let that friend, and the rest of my team, down – I’d hyped it up so much. There were a number of reasons it didn’t go to plan, but the biggest reason was that I didn’t communicate the one key thing that Fanbytes does.

During that pitch, I spoke about our technology and analytics that help brands to gain analytics into Snapchat, as well as our creative network which helped create content for our brands, and our influencer network which distributed the ads. Thus, we are a hybrid of data analytics, meets online creative network, meets video distribution company; a mishmash of things that – at the time – we thought defined our brand.

The feedback from the agency was simple: ‘We don’t know what to describe you as so we don’t know how to activate campaigns with you’.

It was there and then that I realised the importance of doing one thing and doing it insanely well. We stripped away the technology and creative advertising elements of our pitch and focused solely on our distribution capabilities. We even worked on creating a tagline: ‘We help brands get their videos seen and engaged with on Snapchat’ – which helped clarify the business proposition even further.

Since then, every single pitch meeting has been razor sharp and to the point. The lesson here then for getting big brands to work you?

Big companies are inundated with smaller companies offering them the world. Smaller companies, in their desperate need to work with large companies, often fall over themselves offering a wide array of ways they could help larger companies.

Paradoxically, the trick here is to focus on one single thing that you can offer the larger companies and strip out everything else. It will be painful and you will feel like you’re doing a disservice to your product but it’s important that companies can distinctly see where you fit in their ecosystem and the value your business can bring.

2. Make their brand part of your movement

We built Fanbytes because, as a group of 21 to 22-year-old founders, we wanted to make advertising that our generation will care about.

And yet, this was not obvious when we spoke to clients, who initially saw us as just another advertising platform and, consequently, put us in the same remit as normal video distribution companies on the web. Even our focus on Snapchat as a medium was not distinctive enough – this is something most start-ups face.

Large companies typically seek start-ups and smaller businesses to help them fix some problem in their process and are considered nothing more than just a utility. The solution to this? Change the power dynamic. Instead of your start-up being viewed as a utility, make larger companies feel fortunate to work with you.

In order to do this, you have to own a word or, rather, own a movement. What I mean by ‘movement’ is offering a point of view which suggests a fundamentally new angle in which to look at the world; one that big companies will be silly not to jump on board with.

A stellar example of this is Kiip – a mobile rewards company who skyrocketed to advertising fame through pioneering the idea of moments marketing. In our case, we did the same around the topic of ‘advertainment’, the fusion of advertising and entertainment.

As CEO, I started my pitches at conferences and client meetings with the same opening line: “ We believe impressions are bullshit and believe in advertainment”. This woke people up and suddenly partners were clambering to be part of our mission to move away from an impressions-based advertising world to something more meaningful.

Fanbytes YouGov Snapchat ad

Through constant white papers, conferences, and endlessly touting the idea of advertainment, we had changed the power dynamic.

We no longer needed these brands to survive and, instead, brands were requiring us to reach the promised land of ‘advertainment’ and the bountiful benefits it would bring them.

3. Remember you’re not pitching to a company, you’re pitching to a person

This is something I only learnt recently. For instance, when I’m walking into WPP, I’m not selling to WPP ‘the company’, I’m selling to a person who happens to work in their marketing department.

Big, established companies are particularly resistant to change, so in order to get something from them, you need what I call  ‘a champion’.  To do that, you need to realise that you’re not selling to a company but to an actual person; someone who has their own professional goals and desires.

Your role, therefore, is to get that individual closer to their professional dreams through working with you. At Fanbytes, we did this in many ways by showing testimonials from excited clients who had seen results from their campaigns with us.

By highlighting these testimonials, we were introducing the idea of the prospective customer being that excited client. Once they develop a link between that positive feeling and the work they can do with you – your company is then positioned as the enabler of that feeling.

The prospective client becomes your champion and will move the ends of the earth to do something with your start-up.

The advice to takeaway from this?

Working with large companies and big brands, on face value, can seem tricky but – hopefully – by following my advice (doing one single thing in the minds of the customers, changing the power dynamic and understanding you’re dealing with a person), you can get further in your business development efforts.

Like this blog? Now read Armoo’s advice on what start-ups can learn from Snapchat.