Viewing entries in
Writing for New Business

 6 Seemingly Harmless Ways You're Sabotaging Your Proposals

6 Seemingly Harmless Ways You're Sabotaging Your Proposals

Whether truth or myth, the story goes that the famous architect Philip Johnson once answered an RFP with the shortest response possible.

His winning proposal simply said, "I'll do it." 

Too bad we all can't rely on this simple approach to writing proposals that win new business. But, you can do more to make your investment in time and effort pay off by turning your proposals into the strategic selling tools they're meant to be. 

Bad Habits You Probably Made Writing Your Last Proposal

Bad Habits You Probably Made Writing Your Last Proposal

Imagine a couple of common scenarios - an important RFP has just landed in your in-box. Or, an important client has just asked you for a proposal that will significantly expand the amount work you do for them. Do you...
 
...tangle yourself in boilerplate language that you've recycled from a past proposal?
...jump in without a clear content strategy?
...suffocate your language with esoteric terms that the client can't relate to?
 
If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to check out my recent guest column on Agency Post. I've noticed that ad agencies get into some bad habits that, if broken, would make proposals not only easier to write but also more effective at what they’re meant to do - win you more business. 

The Perils of Ad Agency Jargon – and One Way to Avoid It

The Perils of Ad Agency Jargon – and One Way to Avoid It

Why is so much advertising agency-speak filled with unnecessary words and generalizations?
 
I’m always urging my ad agency clients to eliminate unnecessary words in their writing for new business and marketing. As Mark Twain noted, it’s an easy exercise that requires little effort and has a big impact.

But wordiness may be a symptom more than a diagnosis. The real diagnosis may be what Chip and Dan Heath call the “Curse of Knowledge” in their book, Made to Stick.

Experts like doctors, academics, attorneys… and the majority of advertising professionals often succumb to the curse. But my latest blog post offers you one technique to avoid it.

A Hack for Ad Agency Positioning: the Pixar Pitch

A Hack for Ad Agency Positioning: the Pixar Pitch

Finding NemoToy Story, and the latest, Inside Out - why are Pixar films so universally charming and compelling? ("And what, exactly, does that have to do with my ad agency's positioning?" you ask. Patience, you'll find out.)

A former Pixar story artist named Emma Coats discovered that all Pixar plots follow one simple format. And it forms the basis of a perfect pitch.

Want to know what this magic formula is? Check out my latest blog post on how the Pixar Pitch is an ideal hack for developing your ad agency's positioning.

Why Ad Agencies Should Care about William Zinsser

Why Ad Agencies Should Care about William Zinsser

Last month, I lost an ally in my quest to eradicate jargon and wordiness from ad agency pitch documents (not to mention emails, client reports, briefings and marketing copy).

William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, a beloved guide for non-fiction writers since its publication in 1976, died at age 92. 

He was a constant inspiration as we developed Persuasive Writing for New Business, a workshop that teaches ad agencies how to use simple, clear language to communicate their value to prospects, clients and others. 

Blogging and New Business Part 3: Promote Your Blog, Get More Leads

Blogging and New Business Part 3: Promote Your Blog, Get More Leads

While it may have seemed like a tactic to keep you on the edge of your seat a little longer, the link to my latest post was not included in the original email. This is now fixed. 

It's finally here! The hotly anticipated third installment in my three-part summertime series on why blogging should be a central part to an agency's business development strategy. 

In Part 1, I talked about why it’s a good investment to maintain a blog and Part 2 focused on how you can keep up a steady flow of topics without a lot of anguish. This final post is about making sure you capitalize on all your smart ideas.

Here's a preview: it has to do with unlocking the magic that happens when you pair a strong positioning with an audience that wants what you're selling.

3 Reasons Why Blogging Should Be at the Center of Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

3 Reasons Why Blogging Should Be at the Center of Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

"But writing blog posts takes so much time..."


That's what you're thinking to yourself, isn't it. And I agree with you! So, in this three-part series, I’m going to tell you why maintaining a blog is well worth the time.

Part 1: Three great reasons why a blog is one of the most useful things you can do to make your agency’s business development efforts more effective.

And while I really hope you read my post, here's the bottom line: Creating relevant content demonstrates you understand your prospects while also reinforcing your value to them. Merchandise your blog posts in the right way and you'll fire up your marketing, sales and PR efforts.

Ban these words from your next new business pitch

When talking about their capabilities, advertising agencies fall prey to using broadly descriptive terms like "the relentless pursuit of ROI" or "a passion for creative excellence" in an effort to paint a positive and impressive picture.

Instead of over-used words and phrases that are devoid of meaning, point to actual examples - successful client case studies, industry benchmarks or testimonials - that paint a more accurate, authentic image of your agency. If you can't back up your statements, then they're probably not true, and that will hurt you in the long run.

It's hard to sound fresh in a crowded and competitive market. But take some time to step back and look at your achievements. Or ask an outsider for a fresh perspective (you can always call me).

In the meantime, here are some words that I would gladly ban from all agency pitches and RFP responses:

  • Relentless
  • Passionate
  • Superlative
  • Driven
  • State-of-the-art
  • Proven
  • Renowned
  • Nimble
  • Thrive (as in "we thrive on a relentless and passionate pursuit of...")

Any others that you would prefer to see never used again?