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Ad Agency New Business

6 Bad Habits to Break When Writing New Business Proposals

6 Bad Habits to Break When Writing New Business Proposals

Writing proposals is a responsibility that most agency execs would rather avoid. Some agencies outsource the task to professional writers. They’ve realized that it’s inefficient to ask highly paid executives to perform a task that’s outside of their zone of genius. Smaller agencies may not have that luxury and must learn to incorporate proposal-writing into their long list of responsibilities. I’ve noticed a series of 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 new business. Which ones are you guilty of?

Sales or Business Development – Which Does Your Agency Need More?

Sales or Business Development – Which Does Your Agency Need More?

It’s not uncommon for agencies to expect their new business leads to excel at both business development and sales. And they’re frequently disappointed when that doesn’t happen. Sales and business development are essential for generating revenue, yet they require paradoxically different skills. Here’s an easy way to determine which one your agency needs more.

How to Be Better at Agency Business Development: Writing the Perfect Proposal Cover Letter

How to Be Better at Agency Business Development: Writing the Perfect Proposal Cover Letter

Let’s start the new year off by eschewing theoretical advice in favor of some tactical guidance you can put to good use right away to improve the effectiveness of your proposals: how to write the perfect proposal cover letter.

Why is a cover letter so important? It may be the only section of your proposal or RFP response that your client actually reads (besides the pricing section). Sure, that’s a cynical attitude, but it’s based on personal experience as well as the experience of other experts, like agency search consultants, that’s been shared with me.

Embrace the cover letter as a strategic sales tool for presenting a persuasive argument for hiring your agency.

Four Trends that Will Change How We Pitch (and Win) Agency New Business in 2019

Four Trends that Will Change How We Pitch (and Win) Agency New Business in 2019

Each December, I approach my own end-of-year assessment with enthusiasm. Going back through the notes I’ve made or the articles I clipped to Evernote over the last twelve months is a like a nerdy version of a child carefully going through her bulging Christmas stocking.  

And, of the numerous inspiring, terrifying, and thought-provoking developments we’ve lived through this year, here are four trends that I think are going to stick around and continue to affect the way agencies pursue new business in 2019.

True Tales and Lessons Learned from a Lead Generator

True Tales and Lessons Learned from a Lead Generator

Generating leads is central to any business development strategy.  And you hate it. You find excuses to avoid outbound prospecting whenever possible.

For some agencies, outsourcing lead generation is a great idea. Though, as I wrote in my last post, it only works if you hold up your end of the bargain. My friend Mark Duval agrees. He runs Duval Partnership, a firm that offers outsourced prospecting and lead generation to agencies. Over a recent conversation he generously shared his thoughts on what makes an agency prospecting campaign successful as well as the skewed expectations he routinely comes up against. 

Read our interview here.

Is Your Agency Ready to Outsource Lead Generation?

Is Your Agency Ready to Outsource Lead Generation?

Recently, a client of mine asked me to help him evaluate a lead generation firm he was thinking about hiring. The lead gen firm had sent him an extensive questionnaire so it could gather enough information to create a set of persuasive sales messages. It included questions you’d expect: How do you describe your ideal client? What makes your agency different from competitors? Why do you do what you do?
 
My client asked me for my advice. Would I assess this firm and tell him what I thought of the questionnaire?
 
My feedback was that there was nothing wrong with the questionnaire. The question I had for him: Was he was happy with his answers? And, should the lead generator bring him quality leads, did he believe he was prepared to close the business?
 
I gave my client some advice on how to make sure his investment would pay off. If you’re considering outsourcing lead generation, then it might be good advice for you too. Read more

You Were Born to Pitch Badly

You Were Born to Pitch Badly

Winning a new business pitch hinges on your ability to perform a crucial task: communicating to your prospect that your agency brings more value to the deal than your competitors. Sounds straightforward enough, so why do the majority of agencies lose more frequently than they win? Because, there’s a fundamental disconnect between how we communicate our pitch and how our audience receives it. Here are five ways you can close that gap and win more new business.

Your Ideal Client Doesn’t Care about Your Agency’s Credentials

Your Ideal Client Doesn’t Care about Your Agency’s Credentials

Do you know who your ideal clients are?

When I pose this question to the agencies I work with, they usually summarize information like job titles, types of companies, and professional responsibilities.

It's an accurate answer. Nothing wrong with that, right?

But, when you rely only on data like this, the basis of your pitch becomes a set of facts and figures. You recite your credentials, erring on the side of more information, rather than less. After all, you want to demonstrate your thoroughness and ability to anticipate their every need.

The thing is, we buy based on emotion. In fact, the more complex a buying decision, like evaluating a new agency, the more likely it is that we rely on feelings versus details. It’s an emotional short-cut, a “gut feeling,” that indicates we’re making the right decision.

It’s not that your agency credentials aren’t important to your prospective clients. Your prospects use them to rationalize their emotional gut feeling. The mistake some agencies make is neglecting to think about their prospects as irrational, emotional creatures.

You're a sophisticated marketing practitioner, so this is stuff you already know and likely apply in your work every day. I'm sure you would never agree to develop a marketing strategy for a client without a detailed customer persona.

 So, do you know who your ideal client is? Read more.

An Argument for - and against - Being a Specialist Agency

An Argument for - and against - Being a Specialist Agency

Earlier this month I was speaking to a group of agency owners and the topic of specialization came up, at least when it comes to business development. This elicited a comment from one of the agency owners in the audience. They had tried this specialist strategy and it didn’t work. In fact, it had the opposite effect — they couldn’t find enough new business opportunities to sustain the firm. What did I have to say to that?

(Gulp)

To be sure, I see enormous benefits to specializing when it comes to new business, but it’s not without its risks, as this agency owner pointed out. This month, I offer some hedges against that risk.

4 Fears that Sabotage Agency Business Development (and How to Face Them)

4 Fears that Sabotage Agency Business Development (and How to Face Them)

Going after new business puts you in a vulnerable position. There’s always a risk that you’ll be unable to persuade the other party to buy what you’re selling.

We don’t like feeling vulnerable or being rejected. In fact, it’s deeper than dislike. It’s straight-up fear. To avoid the fear, we might convince ourselves to stay in our safe place and keep doing whatever it is we’ve been doing (or not doing), no matter how unsatisfying or unproductive it is.

The devil you know…

Until a crisis shakes us out of complacency and forces us to act. And then we scramble to fix the crisis, dipping back into our network or lowering our price because we need a win.

What would change for your agency if you could take fear out of the equation?

Read more.