View Full Version : Cold Calling to find work?

02-16-2007, 01:00 PM
A question for any freelancers or small studios out there- is cold calling a viable technique in our field for generating work? I'm thinking particularly about the multimedia and corporate sectors here, rather than film or tv, which seems a bit more 'cliquey' and harder to penetrate from outside.

Anyone using the direct call approach with any success?

02-16-2007, 01:40 PM
Half of the time when I call, I end up with an answering machine, leave a mesage, but never hear back! I usually follow up again, even if I get no response. Thankfully I do have a few contacts though that I get work from fairly regularly.

02-16-2007, 02:04 PM
I've done that but the return is not that great, around 2% tops.
You have to call at the right time, when they are looking for somebody to do a job for them, then you have a chance on work.

02-16-2007, 02:14 PM
When we first got going here we sent 100 VHS, (yes, VHS) demos blindly to various corporations. We got 5 jobs out of it that brought us about 3 months of revenue.
Not great, but not bad since we didn't have internet to kill our down time. :)

02-16-2007, 04:57 PM
Im going to sound like a total *** here, but I always find work comes to me.

Ive never had to cold call. Most cold call demoreels at places Ive worked just go right in the bin. Spending some time networking would be time well spent.

02-16-2007, 05:39 PM
Thanks for the replies guys. I think the networking thing works well in a relatively small industry like film or tv- but I'm looking more at the corporate market which is so vast and disparate that networking seems unlikely to work in the same way.

I'd be interested to know what routes people are using on the marketing side- for example does anybody rate Pay Per Click on google or yahoo? Or is it worth paying to get onto the listings sites that a lot of people use?

02-16-2007, 07:08 PM
I think it's a healthy balance of networking, cold-calling etc. But I never really cold-call - when I started I phoned targeted companies and first asked if they had any need for someone like me. Only if they said yes did I bother to send stuff - no point wasting time at either end. But the acceptance rate is very low as someone has said - you need to be in the right place at the right time and people always remember the last person who contacted them - I know I do! Don't dismiss networking - find a local creative cluster and get along - ad agencies tend to loiter at these places and they need you as much as you need them :)

I personally never rely on passive advertising like specialist handbooks, yahoo etc. 500 for an ad in a handbook can pay for an awful lot of demo-shots/reels to be posted out to targeted companies. As for TV being cliquey, any industry can be like that. The main thing with TV is they're going to be looking for someone who can get in, firefight a deadline project, and get out relatively unscathed in a short amount of time :) I'd say as a freelancer about 70% of my work is heavy deadline stuff where the company has bitten off more than they can chew, and the other 30% is almost never plain-sailing - that's the nature of TV.

It'll all boil down to a lucky break. When I started out 14 years ago in a partnership, after 7 years we could trace all our clients back to the very first one, which was got by cold-calling. We ended up working for Cadburys, Manor Bakeries (Kipling etc), Lego, Skoda - all from one cold call. In my present incarnation I've been going almost 3 years and pretty much all of my clients are from the first round of cold-calls I made - one even contacted me after a year of having my stuff on the shelf, something I never thought would happen. Main thing is get out there, get known and never become complacent as there'll always be someone else doing what you did to get where you are ;)

Did I ramble?

02-16-2007, 07:40 PM
Cold calls are for the birds. They don't work anymore. The crowd today are too busy to deal with all the losers that make cold calls to find one winner. Go out and network at user meetings, join video production groups and let them know you are around. If you are good. Word of mouth will get you the work you need to pay your bills and buy that car you were always dreaming about.

Cold calls, sending demo reels cold and doing free work to get your foot in the door will all lead to failure. This is a guarantee.

02-16-2007, 07:54 PM
Let's look at this at another angle. I personal do not like cold calls. I view them the same as spam, junk mail, etc. Odds are great if you were to call me I would not hire you just for that reason alone.
Sorry to be blunt, but how many others feel the same way, maybe thats the reason why cold calls get only 2% or less for a gig. Or why people use answering machines. No one wants to be bothered that way.
Of course get a job and selling something are very different from each other, but I think most people "group" all cold calls together, which is unfortunate for those needing a job.
I recommend putting together a resume, a portfolio, a website, send a mailer, walkin to places that advertized for jobs, then do followup calls. Once they know you, your calls are more than likely to get through.

Who knows, maybe I am way off, but I think that its worth thinking about, before you decide to put a wedge between you and the job you seek.

02-16-2007, 08:35 PM
No method is "wrong". While I wouldn't think of cold calling anymore, a 5% closing on my first and only round of cold calls got me going.

I definitely think networking and personal contact IS best, but it can take a while to get those first gigs.

Hang with the local kiwana's club or Lions club. Lots of business money there.
Networking with the local advertising community is great as well.
The Golf course isn't a bad way to meet business decision makers either. I stink at golf though :)
There are opportunities everywhere. Just make sure you make good first impressions and "listen" to what makes these people click.

Selling what you have isn't nearly as important as selling what THEY NEED.
There is great experience here. Stay tuned.

02-16-2007, 09:11 PM
I cold called The Embassy VFX, and now I work there. :)

02-16-2007, 09:33 PM
Cold calling does works I have not done it in years But It's how I transfered from Cad drafting to 3D.

Now work just seem to appear But if I run out of work I would have no problem to pick up the phone

02-17-2007, 02:13 AM
I agree with the last 2 posts. I always give time to cold callers as I never know what they may offer to my business. I don't bundle them with spam calls such as 'investment companies' or water bottle suppliers' or other random products.

The main thing is to be polite and succint. As simple as name, do you or would you use 3D. If no then thank them for their time and hang up - never pressure, never try and convince them. If they say yes then get their details and post and/or email them straight away. Keep emails short and include a link to an easy to use website - that way they can bookmark your portfolio. Posted stuff should also be short & sweet. Personally I'd get some postcards made up of the various work you've done, with contact details on every one. But no more than a handful. A DVD if you do animation - though this is far more unlikely to be played I would say. And the business card. Covering letter I personally wouldn't bother with - it only gets binned.

I'm undecided about follow-up calls. I know the wisdom of it - making sure the stuff got there, reminding them you exist, getting an idea if they're a potential yay or nay. But I personally hate it when people say they'll call back - it's like waiters who insist on coming to your table 5 minutes into your meal to ask if everything is okay...if I want to ask anything then I will make the move. I don't want to be pressured to give feedback by a certain time. This is where you need to have faith in your own work.

I'm currently revamping my website and will be 'cold calling' potential new clients and refreshing old contacts in order to expand. I'll post my information pack I intend to send out on here so you can see how successful/unsuccessful it goes if that would be useful?

02-17-2007, 05:10 AM
.... I'll post my information pack I intend to send out on here so you can see how successful/unsuccessful it goes if that would be useful?

Yeah it would be useful, so we can use your postcards to get a job for us :D Okay seriously, i like to use postcards too with some small renderings on them and my email, website and phone. That way people can pin it onto their black board or the fridge. But i got most of my new clients through my old clients, so doing good work for your existing clients is essential.

02-17-2007, 02:44 PM
kopperdrake, that would be really useful, thanks.

It's really helpful to get a lot of different views on how things work.

It's interesting that so far no one seems to be advertising themselves in a 'traditional' way- ie. using channels like Google adwords, magazine ads or online banners- is that because these methods don't work- or are simply not cost effective for small animation businesses?