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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
Finding Nemo, Toy 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.
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.
Almost universally, agency pitch teams hate to rehearse. But one of the many advantages is the freedom it gives you to read the room – instead of reading your notes (or worse yet, reading off your slides). The better you know your material, the easier it is to change course if you feel the attention of your audience slipping away.
This point hit home for me recently when I found myself confronted by a roomful of blank stares. My stomach dropped. What was I doing wrong? Find out -- and how I fixed it -- in my latest