Flash Report @ AgencyFinder – November 22, 2009
1. Rainmaker – Where art thou?
2. Prospects Complained About Your Web Site – Part II
3. Fishing for new business
4. Why would you call yours an agency?
5. … and finally
RAINMAKER – WHERE ART THOU?
Agency new business development has always been a cyclical thing; fight the uphill battle to find and land a new client; then abandon any business development regularity because that new client needs servicing. Then it happens – ouch! You lose or elect to drop a problematic client, so now it’s back up the hill again to fight for another victory. Agencies (as in ad, integrated, digital, sales promotion, media buying and public relations) use a combination of tools; flat or dimensional mailers, cold calls, follow-up telephone calls, self-promotion and publicity, speeches, seminars, networking, and even third-party outsourcing. Many have free or paid listings in shallow datafile industry directories; the smart ones have long been listed in Adweek and Redbooks.
Some elect to try to get the attention of traditional search consultants (those hired and compensated only by the clients) but in those situations, rarely does anyone but the larger agency find any traction.
But who should be the agency’s New Business Guru? Good question … Like it or not (not is the majority feeling), agency business development is a sales job. And for as long as I’ve been working in this industry, “sales” has been a dirty word!
I gave a speech at the Food Marketing Institute convention in San Antonio, TX a few years ago. An agency president acquaintance, semi-retired, had given his presentation the day before and left some handouts. In one section, to help members understand agency people, he made an argument I hadn’t consciously considered before – that most agency folks are introverts. So he suggested that given the choice, they would prefer not to be put in a position where they’d have to act assertively and certainly not like a “sales person!” Apparently, during my years at Sanders Consulting and Sales Marketing Institute teaching new business development, I’d been working with what may have been a fairly large universe of introverts since they often remarked: “I hate chasing prospects, but get us in front of a serious client, and we’ll close the business nine times out of ten! I heard their plea, so we built our match-making service to do just that. But none of this means an agency doesn’t need a “real” Rainmaker. So I’m asking – where have they all gone or where are they? Where are those “sales dogs” with thick skin and an “I won’t quit until” attitude? Where are the ones that can’t wait to ask for the order? Where are the ones with formal sales training? Where are the ones who ask “now that you’ve seen our presentation, would it make sense for us to get started on your account? Rather than “we look forward to learning your decision …” God that’s awful! Here’s my take at the moment. Most agencies need a Rainmaker (for real). Someone who’s been formally trained and has experience “walking the walk & talking the talk.” Interestingly, we have a top-ranked industry grad school in our backyard, but unless things have changed, they don’t offer even a single semester dealing with “how to get new clients for your agency. Is it any surprise then that the bottom fell out when clients stopped begging agencies to take their business? That reminds me, (no offense intended) but a new business co-coordinator or screener is no substitute for a sales dog! Important yes; a Rainmaker – no.
I know I’m pontificating, but it frustrates me to see and feel the talent void in our industry. I plan to address this topic in a White Paper, but for now, I have one suggestion. If your agency needs some help in new business, to supplement what you’ve been struggling to do alone, or if you’d like to pass the baton, look to find and hire an experienced and successful salesperson. You can teach them the agency business and what they need to know about
yours. But you CAN NOT teach sales skills to an introvert agency employee who shudders at the thought of making a phone call to a stranger. That’s it for now – get ready, 2010 is going to be a B@#4!**
PROSPECTS COMPLAINED ABOUT YOUR WEB SITE – PART II
Feedback; we get feedback!
Interestingly, my broadcast email of September 29th got more feedback than any email we’ve ever sent. It wasn’t the message itself (which without the provocative subject-line would have slipped into oblivion as most do) but I plead guilty to writing that on purpose. For those who got to paragraph 2, it said “I’m not speaking about your website specifically …” and I went on to explain. (If you missed seeing it and want to, drop me a note).
I concluded by writing: “Bottom line: Build and place a “Category” tab on your site – for current as well as past client categories. Feel free to copy those labels from your AgencyFinder record. For services (i.e. public relations, media relations, technical advertising) – make a similar and all-inclusive tab or list.”
We got email and I made calls to everyone who wrote. The preponderance was positive. Here’s an example: “We did not mistake your rant for anything more than general frustration and well-meaning advice addressing some of the issues that we recently diagnosed in our own website presence.
Part of the problem all of us agencies share, I’m sure, has to do with how rapidly we have been called upon to reinvent ourselves as viable resources for adding value. Conversely, clients and prospects are also redefining their expectations for agency relationships at the speed of the latest tool or technology. The result as you identified: lots of disconnects upon initial “presentations”.
Our challenge as an agency is to build a level of trust in a website that we have traditionally accomplished over time with more personal interactions. It’s no small task!”
And yes, here’s one expressing a contrary view: “With subject lines like this you’re headed for the SPAM filter, and rightly so!”
FISHING FOR NEW BUSINESS
You may have seen something like this yourself. There he is, Mr. Swaggerman. He’s a lucky guy, he’s in Vegas at the crap table; he picks up the die, cocks his well-oiled throwing arm, the tingle of a winner vibrating on his palm. Over the din the dealer shouts – “Hey buster, you need to put some chips on the deck!” Mr. Swaggerman shouts back – “You mean I have to pay to play?” “You bet Mr. Swaggerman, there ain’t no free rides.” – Ain’t life grand!
In case Mr. Swaggerman comes our way, we built ourselves a fairy tale.
WHY WOULD YOU CALL YOURS AN AGENCY?
Each of our registered agencies has to decide what they want to be called; the “handle” by which they are found. The choices we offer are:
* Advertising Agency (SIC 7311)
* Direct Marketing Firm (SIC 7331)
* Integrated Marketing Communications Firm (Not yet classified)
* Media Buying Firm (SIC 7319-9902)
* Digital and Interactive Media Firm (Not yet classified)
* Public Relations Firm (SIC 8743)
* Sales Promotion Firm (SIC 8743-9904)
* and Minority owned and operated
We also offer the following, although they are “not yet classified” by the Federal Government. Branding Firm, Design Firm, Experiential Firm, Live Events Firm, Research Firm and Web Development Firm.
Over the years, I’ve talked with many agencies about what’s best – and I can report that from the client’s (searchers) standpoint, they’re much less concerned about that “handle” than they are about the services they need. If everyone called themselves a Marketing Firm, that might just do it! The topic just popped up in AdAge and our wise friend Mike Carlton tackled that topic back on November 10th.
I highly recommend you read it – I think you’ll find it interesting.
… AND FINALLY.
First off … Happy Holidays!
Here in the US, the season begins with Thanksgiving on Thursday. This newsletter has also been sent to our member-agencies in the UK; Adam Whittaker and Sam Reardon Smith will post you on your news separately. We do hope everyone will be able to savor some “down-time” to enjoy family, friends and pets!
We’re optimistic about the months to come; for AgencyFinder and the clients and agencies we serve. We strive to be an irreplaceable element of your new business process. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do.
As we have since 1997, we look forward to getting you face-to-face with a great prospect; now approaching 10,000 such instances.
Then & Now – We Built it For You!
Charles G. Meyst, Chairman/CEO
Business Partnering International, Ltd.
Vantage Place, 4327 Cox Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060