Autonomous animator: shaking the client tree

***This article was originally published in the Sept./Oct. ’22 number Animation Magazine (No. 323)***

Now that your animation studio’s website is up and running, you’ve prepared online and in-person presentations, and your team members are waiting in the wings ready to dive into new projects, it’s time to shake up. the client tree and see what new projects you can land on your lap.

Get your mind right
Before taking your first step, it is crucial to establish the right mindset. Completely and permanently remove the word “sell” or “sales” from your internal dictionary. The goal is not to coerce a prospect into submission, but rather to find highly qualified prospects who can greatly benefit from your services and who want and/or need what you have to offer – and will be more than happy to pay for said services.

start locally
The best place to start looking for animation prospects is your favorite online search engine. The number of targeted, quality leads you can generate in seconds from effortless online research could take weeks and cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars just a few decades ago.

While it’s more common than ever to work remotely for clients across the country, prospects who don’t know who you are may be more inclined to talk to you if you’re local.

To get started, simply go to your search engine of choice, type in your city, state, and the type of customer you want to have. For example, “St. Louis, Missouri, dentist. If you live in a very small town where business and potential clients are scarce, use the nearest and largest town in your search.

In a split second, your screen will fill with page after page of leads. Start visiting their sites, write down the contact phone numbers with a short sentence describing how they could benefit from your services. Repeat until you have about 15 leads.

Authorization before submission
Take your list somewhere quiet and comfortable. If you don’t have a landline, be sure to find a location where you have excellent reception. You want to have someone on the phone — absolutely no email for first contact!

When talking to a prospect, remember that you are not selling anything. You are only asking permission to send your information. It’s usually a quick two-step process. Introduce yourself and your niche and ask if you can send them a short email introducing your business and how the prospect could benefit from your services. The receptionist (who also acts as a gatekeeper) can transfer your call to someone else in the company who might be interested or who normally handles this type of request. If so, home run. Introduce yourself and your niche to the new person and ask if you can email them your information. If, on the other hand, the receptionist seems a little wary about passing a stranger on to her boss or giving her email address, say you fully understand and would be more than happy to send your information directly to the receptionist and then it can be passed internally from there.

Tracking makes it possible
When writing your follow-up email, keep it short and sweet. Include your business name and website address, how the prospect could benefit from your services, and that you would be happy to give a brief presentation to their directors, project managers, and owners at their convenience. It shouldn’t take more than three or four sentences. If you have other small documents such as a digital brochure or an eye-catching image, feel free to attach them to the email, but keep the file size to a minimum (less than 2MB in total), to reduce the risk of e-mail. get lost in the ether.

Towards the end of the email, mention that you will follow up in about a week. This pre-qualifies you to contact them again and also gives them plenty of time to review your site and hopefully tell the rest of their team about you.

Whether you land a project at this stage or not, try to schedule a presentation very soon, because having time to face a company’s decision makers is invaluable.

Generate a detailed log of every interaction in a text document or simple spreadsheet. Before you know it, you’ll have a list containing dozens of leads, some of which have turned into loyal customers, providing your initial conversion rate. You can use this spreadsheet and conversion rate to further develop your proprietary marketing system, which can then be passed on to your future marketing manager.

Martin Grebing is the president of Funnybone Animation Studios. He can be reached at

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