Will your agency survive this crisis?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Flash Reports

Flash Report @ AgencyFinder – November 6, 2008

Contents:

1. Will your agency survive this crisis?
2. Record month for search registrations
3. Exclusive offer to agencyfinder’s registered agencies
4. Time to sign your work
5. Free new business counsel – always have; always will
6. … And finally

WILL YOUR AGENCY SURVIVE THIS CRISIS?

What happened to new business activity at your agency starting early September, as hurricane Ike headed towards Galveston Island? Never in our 12-year history have we seen business come to such a screeching halt as it did for the majority of businesses here in the US. Interestingly, our client “search registration” link serves as a fairly precise economic barometer, and it began to slow in early September as the hurricane threat began. We weren’t alone, as agencies began to report that

clients everywhere seemed mesmerized and suspended in space by what would happen next and to whom. Of course, the political conventions were also crowding the airwaves.

Then, just when it looked like we had escaped a serious threat to the economy, we got pounded by the market crash and the government’s plan, and it’s clear this hurricane won’t be passing anytime soon. Here at AgencyFinder and in our London office as well, we don’t see this anything like the usual “economic slowdown;” we see this as a series of mini hurricanes heading for any and all agencies already sitting on shaky ground. This situation doesn’t lend itself to pulling out the “It pays to Increase Spending in Down Times.” It’s far more serious than that. For many, this may be “pass or fail” time. That’s why we’re beginning a four-message e-mail campaign this week that takes the topic head-on. The headline above is one example. We see this as such an important admonition that we’re sending it to registered agencies; to some additional contacts at those agencies; and then to agencies that haven’t yet registered. Our June FlashReport offered some tips for protecting your agency in “difficult times” – go back a re-read what we offered. For now, here’s our message: Industry pundits predict and it’s already happening … clients will suspend advertising or cut drastically. Some agencies will be forced to reduce staff. Marginal agencies will close. Loose clients needing a replacement will turn quickly to the Internet and that’s where they’ll engage AgencyFinder.com, the “Search & Find” standard-bearer since 1997. That’s why AgencyFinder needs to be in your new business tool kit.

P.S. – Breaking news Monday Nov. 3rd – from the AAAA newsletter quoting Adweek: Credit Crunch Tightens Agency Coffers – Agency holding companies are responding to worsening financial conditions by clamping down on travel and entertainment expenses, instituting hiring freezes, reevaluating bonuses, and, in some cases, laying off workers.

RECORD MONTH FOR SEARCH REGISTRATIONS

The omen showeth itself … The ink was barely dry on my prognostication (last paragraph above) when we recorded a record month for client and consultant registrations – 92! I have little more to say other than to report – only time will tell.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER TO AGENCYFINDER’S REGISTERED AGENCIES

Registered agencies with AgencyFinder (meaning those agencies that have completed surveys and have paid their $500 registration fee) are able to receive a WebLetter account at no charge (an annual value in excess of $1,200). Here are the conditions:

1. The WebLetter account can be used for agency self-promotion purposes, only.
2. The agency’s use of the WebLetter account will be reviewed every six months by Peer360. Improper use of the account or lack of use may result in suspension of the account after review.
3. The agency must make arrangements directly with Peer360 for training or for the development of custom web templates (all services provided by Peer360 for a fee), if desired by the agency.
4. Peer360 and Brand Central Station will provide current marketing content to all AgencyFinder-related accounts for use on an “as needed” basis.

Interested? Then let us know and we’ll set up a teleconference with a Peer360 representative right away. TIME TO SIGN YOUR WORK

Tough times call for new tactics.

You should do almost anything to increase your firm’s visibility. I wrote about this before, but now it’s time to do something about it: Sign your work!

Everywhere and anywhere you can, mark your client work with your agency imprint. Writers, photographers and illustrators do it; so can you! I’m told it’s practiced in some parts of Europe. To again share my thoughts, I’m repeating something we published on January 27, 2004:

What if your agency really practiced branding?

Real branding (let me repeat – Real Branding) may be a partial answer to what ails some agencies. Specifically, the downfall and demise of agencies like D’Arcy, Bates, Earle Palmer Brown, Hample/ Stefanides, HDC, BaylessCronin and some other twenty-two more U.S. ad agencies begs the question – how can agencies with great client rosters simply slip away, or be disassembled and distributed as piece-parts? How can their peers or an admiring public let that happen?

But what even suggests that peers or the public have any idea who does what and when? If the public did know, might it be less likely that a great Brand (agency) could simply be put to rest without cries of complaint and alarm? We kicked this topic around before – see our Special Edition Flash Report 10-24-2002. Based on feedback since, we’ve had conversations with agencies AND clients – to ask what might happen if agencies really did brand themselves. Imagine if your agency were to “sign & brand” every ad you produced. Translated – a small but visible agency mark, logo and credit line (or voiceover), similar to a photographer’s or illustrator’s credit line that states “Proudly produced by X Agency, Chicago, IL”. As best we’ve come to know, it’s not being done by anyone.

Agencies generally remark – “clients wouldn’t allow it”, or “clients wouldn’t pick up the tab”. Yet photographers and illustrators have been doing it for years, and not because they work without payment. Publishers pay and allow it; why can’t clients? Is it just a question of asking permission? On the pay-for-it issue, if there’s value, an agency should be happy to pay for their pro-rata portion, or reduce production costs accordingly. After all, that’s positive exposure and an investment in new business development. When we discussed this with clients, they weren’t put off as agencies thought they might be. Some were quick to see the merits. This could be a quid-pro-quo thing. Many consumers (and industry peers) are passionate about who does what work (for example, stay behind in the theatre to witness those who remain to study credits).

Consider an extreme analogy – imagine if an agency of some renown (a you-know-who) that wouldn’t normally, did work for a regional men’s fashion chain and marked or branded that work. What might “those in the know” think about the connection or the implied endorsement? If the consumer didn’t recognize the agency brand (regardless of size), a quick Internet search would be educational. And that grand agency brand might have complimented the client. Likewise, a great client brand could compliment an agency. When chatting this around, the topic of copyright also comes up. But we’ve touched on enough for now – it’s time to move on. However, your thoughts are welcome, AND, if you already do this, are you willing to tell us (and others) about it?

FREE NEW BUSINESS COUNSEL – ALWAYS HAVE; ALWAYS WILL
by Charles G. Meyst, AgencyFinder Chairman

I’m not wanting to start an avalanche, but I do want to mention that we’ve always been willing to provide no-cost new business development advice and counsel to any “paid-up” Certified Agency if you are willing to call and ask. You may have to work to catch one of us, but it could make the difference for you. We can’t fit in back and forth email on that topic, but if you want to chat, it does work to send an email to alert us to the fact that you plan to call. Then give us 24 hours and ring us! ‘Nuff said?

… AND FINALLY

We’re very excited about the changes we’ve made and the opportunities now facing AgencyFinder and the clients and agencies we serve. We’re always striving to do a better job and become an irreplaceable part of your new business process. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to make AgencyFinder ever better.

As we have since 1997, we look forward to getting you face-to-face with a great prospect. Then & Now – We Built it For You!

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