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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.

Is Your Ad Agency’s Next Client Another Ad Agency?

Is Your Ad Agency’s Next Client Another Ad Agency?

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.

How to Re-Engage Cold Prospects and Win More Business for Your Ad Agency

How to Re-Engage Cold Prospects and Win More Business for Your Ad Agency

I’m often surprised by how many ad agency executives ignore their own network of contacts. Somehow, between servicing current clients and chasing after new prospects, these valuable contacts get taken for granted.

Your network is one of the best sources of new business you have, but it needs care and feeding. One way to do this is through a re-engagement campaign.

“But that’s an email marketing tactic,” you might be saying to yourself. And you’d right. But, as I explain in my recent guest post on HubSpot’s marketing blog, you can adapt it to generate new business leads quickly and efficiently. After all, it’s easier converting someone who knows and likes you into a prospect than it is building a whole new relationship.

A Hack for Always Having a Compelling Sales Message

A Hack for Always Having a Compelling Sales Message

It can easily take more than a dozen points of contact before a prospect says “yes.” That means you need a steady supply of content. If you’re like many of the ad agencies I work with, that can be a daunting thought at first. But you’re probably sitting on more prospecting-ready information than you realize and I have a tool to help you draw it out.

10 Reasons Why You'll Always Have Something to Blog About

10 Reasons Why You'll Always Have Something to Blog About

In part one of my three-part series on blogging, I advocated for including a well-maintained blog as part of an integrated business development program, but it still left open the gapingly large question of what to write about. In this post, I’m hoping to alleviate some of that anxiety with a flexible editorial approach and a list of themes that can generate an endless number of topics.
What about your agency? Do you have a blog? Is it an invaluable marketing tool or the source of frustration? I'd love to hear your comments

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.

Persuasive Writing Tip: Tell Your Prospects a Story

The idea that storytelling is an important part of the sales process is nothing new (in fact, if you’d like to read more on the subject, I’ve included three good sources at the end of this post).

Successful advertising agencies tell stories all day everyday on behalf of their clients – great stories about brands that capture the imagination. Ironically, this skill often doesn’t get translated when the agency writes its own case studies. I’ve observed an almost contradictory tendency to say too much without ever really getting to the most important point. Here’s an example, paraphrased from countless case studies I’ve seen from my clients (names changes to protect the innocent):

The Forgotten Prospect

Weeks, maybe months, of team effort went into a pitch that you didn’t win and now you’re exhausted and demoralized. You take a deep breath, write confidence-boosting email to the team to let them know how much you appreciate the awesome job they did, and hope that the next pitch turns out better.

Sound familiar? What most agencies forget is that they’ve just invested a significant amount of time building a relationship and that investment shouldn’t go to waste.

Start by thinking about the process you just went through. From the very beginning, your agency was included in this review because you displayed some form of qualification for the work that needed to be done. Assuming that you did your best (or unless you screwed up so badly by, I dunno, sending a disparaging email to the client by mistake), the likelihood is that you made a positive impression – maybe not the right impression to get the business, but positive nonetheless.

Take advantage of this!

Most agencies are smart enough to follow up and get feedback on their performance, but often the relationship ends there. Instead, do this:

  1. Add all client names and contact info to your prospect database. So basic and elemental but so often overlooked (and if you don’t have a prospect database, for goodness sake, start one).
  2. Schedule reminders for a future follow-up in sixth to twelve months, or whatever duration feels right to you.
  3. When that reminder comes due, do your homework – find out how the company is doing, how the agency is performing, or even if your contact has moved on to another company – and put together a thoughtful email that shows you’re still thinking about how you would tackle their marketing challenges.
  4. Repeat for as long as it takes to get the client’s attention again (and, by the way, you may still be getting their attention even if you’re not getting a response).

Here’s a true story – an agency I know pitched an emerging healthcare brand and lost. They wrote it off as a good experience and moved on to the next one. But even though he didn’t hire them, the CMO had been really impressed with this agency’s work. A year later, when he moved to another role at a consumer products company, he called them up and hired them. What a happy ending! The moral of the story: these kinds of lucky situations might actually occur with greater frequency with a little proactive outreach and patient nurturing.