It’s that time of year when big, optimistic plans to pursue dream clients and win lots of new business start to lose their luster. I get it. Stuff gets in the way...
...an unhappy or demanding client.
...an important team member goes on maternity leave.
…a large and unexpected new project.
It’s all part of running an agency, of course, but why is the pursuit of new business often the first thing to be abandoned?
Admittedly, there are a lot of factors at play here. Time management, team management, budget, lack of clarity.
I want to address another factor—unrealistic ambitions—as well as offer you a tool to manage them.
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.
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?
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.
Your agency deserves to be noticed!
But you need to do your part too. You’re responsible for making it as easy as possible for your best customers to find you. A strong strategic positioning is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself.
Landing on the right positioning for your agency can be emotional, soul-searching work, and emotion tends to cloud our judgment and compromise our objectivity.
What if you had a way to remove emotion from the equation? What if you had an equation to lead you to a clear articulation of your value?
Is 2018 the year you regain control over your agency’s new business destiny?
A couple of weeks ago I got to speak at The Drum’s Pitch Perfect conference, a one-day event devoted to helping ad agencies sharpen their new business skills.
There was some great content presented, and one of the best sessions featured four client-side marketers who graciously agreed to expose their underbellies to us. It’s always a lucky opportunity when we agency folk can ask clients candid questions about what we’re doing right and what we could do better.
In this case, I learned some new things, but mostly I was struck by how little things seem to change. Clients are trying just as hard as we are to stay on top of the constantly-shifting sands of marketing, not to mention the demands of their jobs.
Agencies are perfectly positioned to be a source of a help. So why do they often end up being more of a hindrance?
The other day I got a phone call that made my week.
One of my clients, the CEO of a small ad agency, called to tell me that the agency’s positioning strategy, a strategy that I first suggested more than three years ago and have encouraged (and sometimes cajoled) him to embrace ever since, just won him a major piece of business.
It was gratifying to me, of course, because it validated my business! But I was happier for him.
Committing to that positioning strategy had been a psychological hurdle. It fit like a Savile Row suit, but it required him to put a stake in the ground, and that meant potentially saying “no” to revenue if it meant working with the wrong kinds of clients.
It’s a very emotional decision for some agency owners, and emotion tends to cloud our judgment and compromise our objectivity.
But what if you had a way to test your positioning that puts emotion to the side? Read more.
Stories are engaging, memorable and repeatable—and this has big implications for winning over new clients. Wrapping your sales message in a story not only makes it easy for your prospects to understand your value, they’re also more likely to remember your message and repeat to others what they liked about you and why they want to hire you.
See the video.
Our complex marketing ecosystem has resulted in a Cheesecake Factory menu of specialist agencies filling every marketing niche imaginable.
As these specialist agencies seek new growth, they’re turning to other agencies.
For example, a social media agency (let’s call it the Selling Agency) might partner with a digital agency (the Customer Agency) to fill a gap in the Customer Agency’s services. The Customer Agency can offer its client what it needs, the Selling Agency gets exposure to more potential clients on the other agency’s roster, and both make money. Hooray!
But there’s a big downside. The Selling Agency will never have as much influence over the client relationship as the Customer Agency will.
That leads to all sorts of hazards. In this post, I’ll tell what those hazards are and give you strategies you can use throughout the sales cycle to hedge against them.
It’s January, a time to stride forth into the new year and activate the plans you've made to grow your ad agency – dust off that prospecting list, revive the agency’s blog, hire a biz dev whiz to steer the efforts.
How’s that going so far?
We're as quick to break resolutions as we are to make them. Psychologists call this “false hope syndrome,” which means our resolutions are unrealistic and out of alignment with our internal view of ourselves.
What's the secret to counteracting this natural tendency?
For a moment, put aside your ambitious plans for 2017 and take a critical look at your team (including yourself) and what it's best equipped to do. See if your agency matches one of these five types. It could unlock the secret to winning more new business this year.
Sizzle reel. I’ve always hated the term, redolent of steakhouse advertising.
The implication is the reel will dazzle prospective clients through a series of quick cuts and a thumping bass track – all without having to give the viewer any kind of context for what they’re seeing.
Ad agencies that fall into this trap are like Narcissus, gazing at his own reflection. (For those who’ve forgotten the myth, Narcissus was so fixated by his beauty that he lost his will to live and stared at his reflection until he died. A cautionary tale for our business if ever there was one.)
In my latest blog post, I'll give you my top four Dos and Don'ts for creating a great agency reel. Plus, I'll share with you what I think is one of the best agency reels out there (plus the reason why it's not quite as good as it used to be).
Sitting under your nose is a sure-fire method to win more of the right kinds of clients.
Sell them on your agency’s culture and values.
Sounds deceptively easy, doesn’t it?
But most agencies have difficulty articulating what’s special about their culture and values. You have to translate something abstract into concrete and persuasive language, which is hard to do.
But not impossible.
Michael Lebowitz, founder of Brooklyn-based creative agency, Big Spaceship is one of the few agency CEOs who's succeeded.
I wanted to know more so I called him up and we spoke about what it takes to sharpen these sales tools so they're effective. In fact, he credits his agency's culture and values for helping not only to win new business, but to win the right kind of business.
It was so hot in Boston last week that I didn't mind spending a summer day sitting in an overly air conditioned and windowless hotel conference room. In fact, I had a great reason. It was Advertising Age's Small Agency conference and awards. And, although I've worked with past winners, this was the first year I got to attend.
As you'd expect, when people like Linda Kaplan Thaler, Michael Lebowitz, Mike Byrne, and Nicolas Pimentel are all in the same place, some pretty big ideas are gonna get bounced around.