Tues 4 July 2023 2:00pm UK time

Should you be more ‘picky’ with the clients you work with?
Some agencies avoid working with certain companies to uphold their purpose-driven reputation; others say it’s too risky. Where do you sit?
In this session, Ranzie Anthony, founder and CEO of Athlon, shares why his agency only works with certain kinds of organisations, as well as the benefits of narrowing your client pool.

Do you have set criteria for the clients you work with?

Some say agencies have a moral obligation to say no to working with certain organisations. Others say it’s cutting your nose off to spite your face.

Ranzie Anthony, founder and CEO of Athlon, seems to have found the right balance.

“There are some clients who we just won’t work for – organisations that do harm to people or the planet. Tobacco and related industries are just a hard no for us,” he says.

“Then we get into the types of clients that we admire, or that we think we’re a good fit for. Over the last year and a half, we’ve been looking at organisations that have a purpose to leave some kind of positive mark – either on the world or through the work they’re doing.”

Ranzie says it’s all about finding the purposeful thing in what you’re producing for that client, rather than only pitching for outwardly purposeful organisations. This not only helps you widen your opportunities, but it’s more rewarding for the team working on those projects.

“For example, we recently redesigned an enterprise global tax digital product for a client,” Ranzie says. “At face value, it’s not the most exciting, most purpose-driven project. But it’s going to improve the daily working lives of hundreds of people around the world by not having a really frustrating user experience every time they manage large amounts of data on a daily basis.”

Despite only applying this new ‘purpose-driven lens’ to prospects for the last 18 months, Athlon has already seen mass benefits from narrowing its client pool.

“It leads to a much healthier agency – in terms of the people, the quality of the work that you produce, and the impact that we’re leaving on the planet,” Ranzie says.

“It’s almost like good attracts good. When you start on this path, it becomes like a virtuous circle: you’ve said it, so then you see it, so then you go after it, and then you attract more of it. It sets you on a trajectory.”

But nobody wants to turn down work, especially when agency teams are already feeling the squeeze.

“Looking at it as an agency leader, you’ve got to keep the lights on and keep things running. So we try to use these values as a compass, rather than as a set of conditions.”

In this session, Ranzie explores why his agency only works with certain kinds of organisations and the benefits of narrowing your client pool. Come along to discuss this in depth and share your own two pence on the matter.