Fear and boredom are not a good combination, especially when they’re the overriding emotions you feel every time you confront the reality that you could be doing more to win new business for your agency.
I used to extol the virtues of a well-rounded business development program until I realized I was never going to get agency leaders to do things they didn’t like to do. I’d just be continually fighting the impossible fight against fear and boredom.
Instead, I learned that defining a strategy and set of tactics that were aligned to their strengths was the shortest, most efficient way to fill their pipeline. I also discovered that most small agency owners fit into one of four different new business personality types.
Which one are you? The answer may change your feelings about business development from fear and boredom to confidence and enthusiasm. Read more.
Effective salespeople know that a good story is the fastest route between them and winning new business.
This is especially true for ad agencies. Advertising is a craft that relies on abstract thought processes that lead to inspirational ideas like “Just do it.” The problem is, abstract ideas are difficult to describe and even more difficult to value. That’s why it’s so easy to succumb to meaningless, anemic phrases like “fully integrated,” “digital-first” and “consumer at the core” when trying to describe what you do to a prospective client.
Stories, on the other hand, make the intangible tangible. Discover how this technique, as old as humanity itself, is one of the easiest ways to win new business.
See the video
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.
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.
This year I was both a first-time speaker and a first-time attendee at INBOUND, a
four-day extravaganza dedicated to inbound marketing in all its forms. Not that anyone was keeping score, but I'm pretty sure I absorbed way more information
than I imparted.
Thinking about the big themes that were communicated throughout the event, the one I heard most consistently was this: the line that used to separates sales and marketing no longer exists.
Why does that matter to your ad agency? Because it matters a lot to your clients and prospects - they want to work with agencies that not only understand their challenges but have a clue how to address them.
Start by taking a walk in another man's shoes - it might even put you in a position to win more new business yourself.
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.
Those of you who know me or have worked with me know that my mission is to help ad agencies and creative services firms communicate more persuasively. When I find a tool or technique that has the potential for changing that behavior, I pass it on. Nancy Duarte's Sparklines is one of those tools.
Sparklines was developed after she asked herself "what does persuasion look like?" She’s certainly qualified to explore the question. Her company, Duarte, helps organizations like Google and Apple tell effective stories through presentation. To find the answer, she analyzed two extraordinary presentations: Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Steve Jobs’ iPhone launch in 2007.
Essentially, it’s is a method for drawing an audience over to your side of an argument by presenting a series of contrasts between what is and what could be. It's one of the most compelling presentation structures I've ever seen. Plus, it's not a technique that's difficult to learn. In fact, it has more to do with reframing your presentations than reinventing them.
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).
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.
Still managing your prospects largely through Post-It notes? Relying too much on a white board (the one that your assistant just erased by mistake) to track your marketing activities?
Time for an upgrade! Check out my recommendations for five indispensable tools for agency new business. They also happen to be widely available, and most are easy to put in place so you can start using them right away.
I talk a lot about why you need to be strategically ready to embark on a prospecting campaign. Your sales efforts aren't going to be successful if you can't communicate to your best prospects why your services are more valuablethan other agency.
But in my latest blog post I shift gears a bit to talk about some practical tools that are important to have in place if you are to support a strong prospecting program. They're tools that are easy to start to use right away and that I've come to consider indispensable.
Still managing your contacts largely through Post-It notes? Relying too much on a white board (the one that got erased by mistake last week) to track your marketing activities?
The beginning of a new year is a great time to set positive intentions, such as reeling in a big, game-changing client. It’s a daunting challenge for any agency, but it is particularly challenging if you’re a small- to mid-sized shop. You have to work that much harder to differentiate yourself and get the attention of the "big guys".
The good news is that hooking a big client doesn't require that you make massive operational changes or even hire an expensive "rainmaker". It relies more on having the right mindset. Check out my guest column in today's Agency Post (also on my blog) to see if there are things that you can do today to best position yourself to win big this year.