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Control Your Narrative. Control Your Pitch.

Control Your Narrative. Control Your Pitch.

An agency that isn’t in control of its narrative places that control in the hands of the prospect, and that prospect doesn’t have the best interests of the agency in mind. 

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.

Stories, Seth Godin, and Agency Business Development

Stories, Seth Godin, and Agency Business Development

Recently, I came upon this interview with Seth Godin. In it, he and his interviewer, content marketing expert Sonia Simone, got to talking about implied stories.

Anyone who’s followed my posts for a while knows I’m a bit obsessed with storytelling and its role agency new business. The more I learn about the psychology of storytelling, the more convinced I am that it’s a secret weapon for converting prospects into new business leads. 
But what about these implied stories? What are they and how should you be telling them? Read more.

Do Awards Help You Win New Business?

Do Awards Help You Win New Business?

Thanks to Publicis Groupe’s CEO, Arthur Sadoun, it was an especially headlined-filled week at the Cannes Festival of Creativity. Sadoun’s announced that Publicis Groupe would take a one-year hiatus from awards shows and other industry events to focus on building out a network-wide, AI-enabled platform called Marcel. It sparked surprise and skepticism (among other things) from both marketers and agencies (some of them Publicis executives who were as surprised by the announcement as everyone else, apparently).

It got anyone with an opinion about creative awards coming out of the woodwork to express it–including me.

For most of my career, I’ve had mixed feelings about awards shows. Do awards materially affect the ability to win new business? And is it commensurate with the massive investment of time and money that competing for them requires?

I don’t think it is for most agencies. In my latest post, I’ll tell you why and offer a few suggestions for other, more efficient ways to redirect that budget.

Ad Agency Credentials Presentations Don't Have to Suck

Ad Agency Credentials Presentations Don't Have to Suck

You know how it feels when you get so close to a topic that you begin to lose any sense of perspective? How many of you feel that way about your ad agency's credentials deck? How many hours have you spent debating with your team about whether the client slide should go before or after the awards slide?

Those are hours you will never get back my friends, because no one outside your agency cares about the answer. 

Last month, I extolled the virtues of Nancy Duarte’s Sparklines, a presentation method designed to draw an audience over to your side of an argument. This month, I tell you how to use this technique to transform the garden variety creds deck into a persuasive sales tool. 

Using Storytelling to Generate New Business: One Ad Man's Quest

Using Storytelling to Generate New Business: One Ad Man's Quest

Think about the number of agencies you’re aware of (including your own) that have a truly differentiated work process.
If you’re being honest, the answer is easy: not many. Whether it’s three steps or twenty-three steps, most agency work processes look the same. In fact, sometimes I think they’re more of an afterthought, something to be written up for an RFP response but rarely put into action in real life.

But Park Howell, founder of agency Park&Co., channeled his fascination for the power of storytelling (a fascination I happen to share) into a work process he calls the Story Cycle that's become an integral part of all his client engagements.

Positioning Your Ad Agency - Part 2: Don't Be All Things to All People

Positioning Your Ad Agency - Part 2: Don't Be All Things to All People

What's a "brand-centric consumer catalyst" anyway?

My last blog post tossed around the notion that it’s almost impossible for a full-service ad agency to have a completely unique selling proposition, so it's understandable that many agencies veer the other direction and try to be all things to all people. I think this stems from a fear of losing out on opportunities by being too specific, but in fact I’d wager that the opposite is true. The more you can articulate who you truly are, the more easily the right prospect will find you and the wrong prospects will avoid you.

Made Movement in Boulder, CO is a great example of an ad agency that's boldly put a stake in the ground. With clients like Seventh Generation and Church's Chicken, it seems to be paying off.

There's a lot to be learned from Made's approach -- check out my latest blog post.

Positioning Your Ad Agency: How Important is the "U" in USP?

A Unique Selling Proposition – we should all have one, right?

The truth is, an astounding number of advertising agencies don’t and there’s a very good reason for that. With approximately 20,000 agencies in the United States all pretty much offering the same set of services, the chances of landing on a completely unique selling proposition are slim. Unfortunately, many agencies go to the opposite extreme. Fearing missed opportunities, they get seduced by the idea of being all things to all prospects.

My latest blog post explores the notion of "unique" when it comes to positioning your ad agency and includes a few concrete steps to get you focused on what matters to your prospects.

Blowing Your Own Horn: Don't Overlook Stories Your Prospects Want to Hear

If I ran the new business team at Carat, I know what I’d be doing today.

Last night, Adweek ran a great piece on questionable web traffic and it featured an anecdote about an analytics manager at Carat, Lindsay Buescher, who proactively went on a crusade on behalf of her client, Red Bull. She and her team spent three weeks digging up fraudulent sites and ended up blacklisting 77 of them.

This is a great example of client stewardship, something marketers routinely cite as the reason for putting their advertising accounts in review. If I were at Carat, I’d be thinking not only about how to include this very positive story in my credentials boilerplate, but which prospects would be most piqued by seeing this.