The great American poets, the Spice Girls once said, "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends." Pushing all romantic undertones aside, one thing I have really come to believe as a creative professional is that the best clients are kindred spirits. Vision, passion, and mutual respect need to align.
This is one of the biggest revelations I have had throughout my creative career. I have worked for agencies where money was literally the only barrier to entry for onboarding a client. If they had the cash, the work would be taken on. I get it. They need to keep the lights on and people employed. But, that is a huge reason why Sharpe Creative has no motivation to be a full-service agency. Sharpe Creative is mainly motivated by fulfillment.
I am much more excited to take on a client with a scrappy budget who is hungry to succeed, is brave, ready to take healthy risks, and wants to make some noise in their market than a client who is a scoop of vanilla ice cream with deep pockets.
If Sharpe Creative's sole motivator was cash flow, industry-niching would probably be the way to go. We have had stints of work in an industry where we complete work for a client and then their peers contact us to help them too. If I leaned into that and used the traction and maybe rebranded to be a "Branding and Web Design Company for Industry X," I could probably greatly increase revenue. But, I know I would also become extremely bored as a result.
The feeling that every client is new and fresh is what drives Sharpe Creative and keeps us on our toes to always be delivering the best solutions we can. I think the temptation to coast and succumb to the easy, unfulfilling money is too great (at least for me) for niching to an industry.
Some creatives are industry snobs. They only want to work on the "cool and sexy" stuff. Beer labels, fashion, entertainment, etc. I have done that stuff and it can be exciting. You always want to work on things that align to your interests. But, I have also seen that there can be nightmare clients within "cool subject matter" and amazing clients in "less exciting" subject matter. The biggest thing for me is how brave is the client? Whether they are a trendy new brewery or a financial institution, I crave clients who are brave enough to actually stand up and stand out in their industry.
There are lots of motivations and reasons to accept or turn down clients. Those reasons are personal and something that every service provider (especially creatives) develops over time. Here is a list of what Sharpe Creative feels makes for the best clients.