Autonomous Animator: Shaking the Client Tree

***This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. ’22 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 323)***

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

Get Your Mind Straight
Before taking your first step, establishing the proper mindset is crucial. Completely and permanently remove the word “sell” or “sales” from your internal dictionary. The goal is not to bludgeon a prospect into submission, but rather find highly qualified prospects who can benefit greatly 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 Local
The single best place to start looking for animation prospects is your favorite online search engine. The number of targeted, quality prospects you can generate in mere seconds from an effortless online search could take weeks and cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars mere decades ago.

Although it is more common than ever to work remotely for clients all across the country, prospects that don’t know who you are may be more inclined to speak with you if you are local.

To get started, simply go to the search engine of your choice, type in your city, state and the type of client you want to have. For example, “St. Louis, Mo., dentist.” If you live in a very small town where businesses and potential clients are sparse, use the nearest, biggest city in your search.

In a fraction of a second, your screen will be filled with page after page of prospects. Start visiting their sites, jotting down the contact phone numbers along with a short sentence describing how they could benefit from your services. Repeat until you have approximately 15 leads.

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

When speaking to a prospect, remember you are not selling anything. You are only asking permission to send your information. This is usually a quick, two-step process. Introduce yourself and your niche and ask if it would be OK for you to send them a short email introducing your company and how the prospect could benefit from your services. The receptionist (who also doubles as a gatekeeper) may forward your call to someone else in the company that might be interested or 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 sounds a bit leery about forwarding a stranger to their boss or giving out their email address, say you completely understand and would be more than happy to send your information directly to the receptionist and then it can be forwarded internally from there.

Follow-Up Makes It Happen
When crafting 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. This should take no more than three or four sentences. If you have any other small documents such as a digital brochure or an eye-catching image, feel free to attach that to the email, but keep the file size to a minimum (less than 2MB total), to reduce the chances of the email getting lost in the ether.

Toward 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 allows plenty of time for them to review your site and hopefully talk about you with the rest of their team.

Whether you land a project at this point or not, try to schedule a presentation sometime soon, because getting face time with the decision makers in a business is invaluable.

Generate a detailed log of each 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 clients, thereby 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 director.

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




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