Designing a Cold Outreach Strategy for Studio DBC

Studio DBC is a growth-stage design agency with a handful of big-name clients (J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Spotify, American Express), as well as several SMEs across various sectors. The agency had several sticking points to address in terms of customer acquisition, and partnered with ColdStart to kick-start their inorganic growth.

Key Highlights in Six-Week Campaign:

  • 30 MQLs
  • 1 Sale (Avg. sales cycle = 4-6 months)
  • Several down-funnel opportunities
  • Penetration into target markets (financial services, nonprofit)
  • Clarified value prop, outreach language and pitch to target ICPs
  • Evergreen content assets and cold outreach setup to re-use in perpetuity

DBC was resource-constrained in its marketing department, with only a Head of Growth (Laine Perrine) to manage all responsibilities. DBC’s founder, Carlos Williams, had been approached by many email marketers, yet chose ColdStart because “Everyone was vague on what they were going to do. You have a process, and you clearly laid out that process.”

List Segmentation and Content Creation

The process began by connecting with Laine and Carlos, and understanding their business model, ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and value-proposition.

As DBC is a design agency and can service any company in any industry, the outreach can go wide–however, there are certain industries DBC wants to penetrate, such as financial services and the nonprofit sector.

ColdStart devised a four-pronged approach to customer segmentation:

  • Founders / CEOs and Heads of Marketing at any company within certain revenue and employee count limitation, to target growing companies that don’t have an in-house design team
  • Founders / CEOs and Heads of Marketing at fintech and financial services companies specifically, making a finance-specific pitch
  • Founders / CEOs and Heads of Marketing at nonprofits, with a specific pitch around the importance of appealing to millennials and Gen Z through design, as well as hiring for diversity (one of DBC’s value-adds)
  • Heads of IR and Comms at any company within the aforementioned revenue and employee count limits, targeting them with a pitch about presentation design–one of the specific services DBC offers.

There would be one multi-email campaign for each of these ICPs.

ColdStart also added an additional ‘mini campaign’ to companies with a recent job board posting for a designer / brand expert, under the theory that anyone posting for an in-house designer may consider external design support.

As part of this approach, ColdStart generated several content assets, including articles:

And unique, sales-oriented landing pages:

Once the content assets were in place, ColdStart executed an email-warmup process that carefully maintained 100% email deliverability, using a multitude of tactics to ensure that emails landed in inboxes instead of spam (even as we reached sending limits of ~2,500 contacts per day, per account).

DBC had, in fact, tried email marketing prior to engaging with ColdStart, but email deliverability is a challenge to get right, and so the ROI simply wasn’t there when the company tried it in-house.

To quote DBCs founder, Carlos Williams: “Laine (Head of Growth) had been doing stuff, and it wasn’t working. Our platforms and processes weren’t working. Also this was a time commitment for me. So we needed to find a solution.”

The Results

“I didn’t expect email to work, but it worked 100%!”

So said Head of Growth Laine Perrine, after our 90-day engagement ended. As the campaigns begin in earnest at the six-week mark (with the first six weeks devoted to strategy assessment, content creation and subdomain and IP warmup), let’s take a look at the results from six weeks of cold outreach:

  • # of MQLs = 30
  • # of Finance MQLs (target sector) = 11 
  • # of Sales Conversions = 1 

The sales conversion was a major nonprofit organization–and in one of DBCs desired sectors. Additionally, numerous other leads are deep in the conversion pipeline, with the company expecting to close several (average 4-6 month sales cycle).

The fact that DBC closed even one account in just six weeks is astonishing, and illustrates the power of cold outreach to garner quick wins.

When I asked Carlos Williams if this process will generate more leads than the company has bringing in on its own?  His answer: “Astoundingly YES.”

An Outreach Engine on Autopilot

Part of the beauty of partnering with ColdStart is that once the 90-day engagement comes to a close, you can simply copy/paste my efforts for continued success, which is exactly what Carlos and Laine are doing at DBC.

As Laine told me at the conclusion of our partnership: “Our results are 100% met.”

Carlos added the following: “DBC has benefitted so much from this by proving there is demand for what we do. This is an alternative way to market our services in a world that is very noisy.”