It’s a Match! How an agency with a big heart can conquer values based companies

6 October 2022, By Catarina Oliveira, Director of Canela Portugal

After years of doing proposals at Canela, I have come across a whole range of people and a whole range of businesses. For those of us that have a new business remit, I am sure you are familiar with that WOW feeling “this person and I could easily be friends” or “I really want to learn from this person/company” – and the other side of the spectrum as well!

This is a path with pleasant surprises, occasionally some regrets and huge opportunity for growth on both sides. Just like…using dating apps! 


Jokes aside, winning new business at a PR agency can be a complex process, with many overwhelming moments and hopefully a lot of conquests to celebrate. Focussing on being values-led has helped us tremendously to grow as a team and face new business opportunities with a different approach – here are my three major learnings.

1. Take care when setting up your profile

It all starts with the needs: being a service provider I need clients for my business to work, companies need experts to run and deliver their communications activity. Regardless of being proactive or reactive, winning new business requires a strategy – doesn’t everything? – the same way you should think what to write filling in a dating app profile.

In dating apps the ideal scenario is attracting the right people, at the right time to have the desired outcome. The same happens with new business and for that we need to be honest and clear answering the following questions: Does the image we portray accurately reflect who we are and how we want to be perceived? What kind of client will be attracted to our profile? Will that client keep my team motivated after the initial attraction has worn off? Are we offering the right services at the right time? Do we have the necessary resources to keep the relationship going? These questions are very important as a first filter and are key to avoiding disappointed expectations further into the relationship.

2. The WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)

For a successful match to happen expectations must be managed and this is where the WIIFM comes in.

The Client’s WIIFM

We need to be really clear from the outset what a client will get from their relationship with Canela. Besides doing in depth research on the company’s sector, a detailed action plan with measurable deliverables is essential for the other side to understand that we are a rigorous company with a strategic yet realistic plans to achieve specific KPIs. That´s essential for both sides to ensure peace of mind and avoid getting ourselves in blurry situations.

Canela’s WIIFM

From our perspective, we have a new biz process that aims to find what our WIIFM will be and it goes beyond earning money. Our top filter is our mission statement: “products and services we believe in”. We´re a valued-led organisation and many times we rely on our instinct when dealing with a potential client if it feels great it normally is great.

Other factors help us filter potential clients as well: is the client in a sector that is emerging or gowing? Will we be challenged to expand our services portfolio when working for achieve their communications goals? Is this company present in both Spain and Portugal (of the top 10 Canela clients 6 are in both countries and we have plans to increase). As one of only three agencies in Iberia with BCorp certification we are keen to make sure all our new clients are forming part of the regenerative economy. 

3. The magic of saying NO

After years struggling to say no to prospects, Marie Kondo gave us a great help with her tactic “Does it spark joy for me?”. Sometimes is that simple. 

Choosing clients that help you thrive is part of every new business manager’s duty and we owe that to our teams – after all, they are the ones dealing with clients every day. Sometimes a 15-minute virtual conversation explaining where we stand, what can we bring to the table and reading the room saves countless hours. Whether because the companies values don´t fit, you don´t have resources to accept the pitch or there´s just zero empathy on the call, or quite simply there’s no chemistry between us.

From my experience, especially in Southern Europe cultures saying directly to a prospect what will they get from a collaboration might be uncomfortable at first as usually people are afraid to seem aggressive or not interested. With a lot of empathy and politeness we can “show our colours”, save time and anxiety. Also, their reaction it´s a great filter to know if that company is a good match for you.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to feeling good about who we are as a company and the partners we have. We couldn’t be prouder of our long-lasting relationships we have established and are excited about the new adventures that are out there waiting for us. Wishing you happy, long-lasting and successful matches!

And if you want to discover if we would both swipe right, you can always reach us via our contact form.

We promise not to do any ghosting!