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Do you know how to get the attention of big brands? Wondering if the glory of having enterprise clients justifies the headaches involved? Are you highlighting success stories to get attention and attract the sort of clients you want? Today’s guest dissects big brand dilemmas having partnered with countless household tech names. She says cracking their codes hinges on network and leveraging your identity. We’ll explore challenging elements agencies endure silently while chasing coveted opportunities. Tune in to unveil the dualities separating perception from reality when pursuing premier partnerships.

Kaitlyn Barclay is the CEO and co-founder of Scout Lab, a creative communications agency specializing in branding communications and campaigns. Her agency has grown well past the million-dollar mark and works with some of the biggest brands in the world.

Kaitlyn talks about her background in the tech industry and how it influenced her decision to create an agency that caters to tech companies. Tune in to learn how she decided to go all-in when promoting the agency, leveraging personal networks, and how her agency was able to establish a strong reputation and gain attention from big brands.

In this interview, we’ll discuss:

  • Using your identity and existing clientele as leverage.
  • Possible hurdles of working with big brands.
  • Highlighting success stories to attract next-level projects.



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Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today's episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design, and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out and get 10% off for the first three months of service.


Creating a Differentiated Offer to Drive Value to Clients

Coming from Silicon Valley, Kaitlyn had a deep understanding of the world of tech, specifically multi-sided marketplaces. She had previously started a company in 2015 that was later acquired. Back then, she craved an agency that intrinsically understood technical founders' mindsets and markets. So she built that rare specialty boutique herself alongside a partner. The agency quickly took off from there.

Scout Lab's success can be attributed to its unique approach and differentiated offering. Kaitlyn went all in promoting their services to her entire network, many of whom were working with the type of clients she eventually wanted to work with. One key aspect of their differentiated offering was a clear point of view and their ability to blend the practices of brand building with agile methodology. This unique combination allows them to create a shared language with their target clients, who are often tech-focused and product-oriented founders.

Most agencies default to retrofitting versus innately knowing tech, thus Kaitlyn positioned Scout Lab through authentic insights and delivered uniquely tailored transformations. They didn't have to pretend - focused specialization allows them to stand out by simply understanding the audience

Positioning Your Agency at the Edge of Culture

In 2016, many things were happening in the world and many big brands made huge marketing mistakes that came down to ignorance. Big brands wanted a partner who could provide a 360-degree view of their target audience.

Kaitlyn’s agency promised an extraordinary amount of research on the clients’ potential consumers to have a 360-degree view of the audience they want to acquire and retain. They called it “purpose-driven marketing” although she agrees the term has lost all meaning with time. However, in 2016 when brand safety was top of mind for many executives, it was extremely provocative. They were an organization that understood the needs of tech brands to launch and scale. Billion-dollar companies were looking to appeal to “the cool kids”, folks who were on the edge of culture. By positioning themselves as experts on the bleeding edge of culture, Scout Lab was able to open doors and secure partnerships with these multinational corporations.

Leveraging Your Identity and Existing Client Work

Even though they had exactly the expertise and fresh approach big brands were looking for, how could they get their attention? Kaitlyn knows your network is your net worth, so networking plays a crucial role in approaching these clients. Representing themselves and their business in the right rooms and talking to the right people was essential.

To establish a differentiated point of view, they made a list of "no's," identifying who they wouldn't work with. By staying true to their values and focusing on enabling access, they became an attractive agency partner for clients who wanted to be more agile, purpose-driven, and consumer-centric.

Additionally, ScoutLab used its identity and existing client work as leverage. In this regard, Kaitlyn started to share the agency’s case stories with her network, hoping to attract similar successful businesses. She also recalls how her writing paid off in spades. She wrote an article on genderless AI published in Fast Company, as a way to establish her expertise and perspective. This allowed her to represent herself and her agency when she wasn't directly communicating with potential clients.

Finessing the Big Brand Balancing Act

Getting prestigious big-name clients is tempting, but it’s also good to be aware of the not-so-great side of things. For starters, procurement can be a complex and difficult process. This can be a stark contrast with upstart and challenger brands, where it’s usually a more straightforward process.

In this regard, if you’re facing a similar situation you can resort to use factoring, where companies can sell their invoices to a third party for a percentage of the invoice value. This allows businesses to receive cash up front, even if the payment terms are longer. If this is not something you’d like to try, work on building a relationship with the head of procurement to ensure invoices are given priority and paid promptly.

Finally, Kaitlyn recommends holding final files until payment is received as a way to ensure that you’re not taken advantage of and protect your financial well-being.

Other than payment terms, endless red tape also mires and sometimes kills initiatives. This can result in projects being delayed or even abandoned, which can be disheartening for the agency. It is possible to work efficiently with larger organizations, but it may not always be the case.

All in all, having big brand names in a portfolio is a way to attract clients. It’s a fact that big brands will be interested in an agency’s work with other big brands. However, they’re also very excited about an agency’s work with challenger brands, because it is usually their most creative work. So make sure to highlight that work as well.

In the end, it’s a dance between celebrating your big wins and highlighting courageous innovations. It'll all depend on the kind of business you’re hoping to attract.

Boosting Human Capital to Attract Next-Level Projects

Kaitlyn credits human capital investments as profoundly moving agency growth needles. As an agency, human capital is how you develop creative ideas and establish robust relationships with clients that are essential for agency growth. By offering benefits such as a 401k matching program, agencies can elevate and support their workforce, leading to improved creativity and client relationships.

More recently, she’s been more thoughtful about showcasing successful projects to attract more of the same kind of work. To this end, she now develops case studies to share with her network. Furthermore, the agency has applied for awards to get accreditation for these projects. It’s a way to make every sale count as much as possible and attract more projects that align with their vision and strengths.

Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?

If you want to be around amazing agency owners who can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360.  Our agency growth program helps you take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.