It's a story many high tech agency execs are all too familiar with. This Feb, Moira Vetter former general manager of FolioZ found herself out on the street when the agency's new owners (who'd bought it during the good times last summer) decided they weren't prepared to tough it out in a harder climate.
"It was shocking, horrifying, painful," Vetter says. She quickly decided life was handing her the chance to start her own high tech ad agency, Cracker Communications. Vetter landed her first client in a matter of days ... only to have them go bankrupt a month later after doing $10,000 worth of work with her. "They said, 'So sorry, maybe we'll settle for 20 cents on the dollar.'"
So Vetter decided to target potential clients in a different way. Instead of choosing them by looking at their official budget, she would chose them based on their passion. She says, "I'm not looking at operational budgets. I ask do you have a real product and are you passionate about it? If the person doesn't get nervy and excited about what they want to do, I question if they have what it takes to continue over time. I don't care if they're a two-person shop or a 5,000 person company. I'm only interested if they have a vision for the product and it's already installed somewhere. No more vaporware, no three-month silver bullet marketing plans!"
Vetter keeps Cracker's overhead down by working with a network of freelancers (most of whom are also former FolioZ staff); and, offers clients training and supervision services for their in-house staff so they're not dependent on her for everything.
By working her extensive network of personal connections from more than a decade in the high tech ad business, Vetter has landed six retainer accounts in four months and has another three pending. She says, "Right now word of mouth is critical because there are so many vendors on the street." Her advice for others starting their own firms, "Don't get a loan! Sweat it out with self-funding." http://www.crackercommunications.com