New Business Development for Agencies: FAQ
We already have a new business program. Can AgencyFinder help?
A. Fair question! New business development is not a single-solution fix. You need a lot of different arrows in your quiver. Even trained, experienced, dedicated agency new business pros have a hard time concentrating on the outreach effort. Mediocre or little new business activity is seldom for lack of talent or dedication; it’s the constant interruptions that keep you from the task. Yet without prospects, even the best agencies will stall. If you believe the adage new business is the lifeblood of an agency and if your agency could benefit from new business, AgencyFinder will do outreach on your behalf, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
What’s the basic premise for AgencyFinder?
A. Since AgencyFinder represents thousands of the finest agencies throughout the world, our client-to-agency connection process doesn’t have you wasting time, money, effort and anxiety chasing prospects. Instead, clients ready to do business select and invite your agency to respond — but only when it’s a near perfect fit. The precision by which our database search process identifies potentially great relationships is unlike any other. It’s been called the fast-track to the short list. We provide fully qualified new business “introductions” — not generalized, unqualified, unscreened leads.
How does the process work?
A. Searchers begin their no-fee process by registering and defining their requirements. In your AgencyFinder profile you will have described your firm using many of our 500 database fields — by agency services, media experience, industry and market experience, employee census, location, billing options, etc. Client needs are defined with those same fields. After a client has stated their needs, our search engine sweeps the database to find only those agencies that meet that requirement.
When the client reduces the matching agency pool to their semi-finalists of 35 or fewer agencies, they go to the anonymous essay and case study section where you have described your creative approach, strengths, philosophy, etc. In essence, the essays function as tiebreakers to allow the client to create a short list.
When they conclude their on-line work, a BPI executive calls the client to confirm and learn anything else that might be useful to your agency. We inform the client which agencies they selected and that we’re ready to invite you.
Who pays and when?
A. AgencyFinder is sponsored by agencies so that searchers NEVER pay a fee. The service is an impartial, non-prejudicial extension of each agency’s business outreach. Most agencies view the Initial and Annual Subscription Fee as a necessary and worthwhile new business investment. See AgencyFinder Subscription Plan – North America.
How do we get our introduction?
A. You’ll know when you get our invitational Client Search Criteria Report by fax, e-mail and phone explaining all of the information we have: client’s name, contact, budget, work assignment and search parameters. That way, you know what the prospective client wants and why they selected your agency.
Next, you’re asked to speak with the client to “see for yourself;” ask them anything and everything. Conduct your own due-diligence. No Big-Brother thing here; the decision is yours alone. When you conclude that call, let the client know what you plan to do. Then tell us the same thing.
What if we accept the invitation?
A. That’s the idea! Take whatever steps you think appropriate to close the business. Clients may ask for your brochure, some relevant samples and a brief letter. If they don’t, volunteer the information! How you close the business is up to you. If there’s a balance due on your Annual Subscription Fee, you’ll need to process the enclosed invoice. Pay by credit card on-line, agency check or wire transfer.
What if we decline?
A. That’s your decision too. Just remember, until you decline, you keep an eligible agency from being invited, so be considerate. Let us and the client know – immediately!
How do we apply for “Certification?”
A. Have a senior member of your agency staff complete our on-line Registration.
We don’t need new business; we’re booked solid… the phone rings daily!
A. You’re lucky and probably exaggerating! The economy in 2011 is sketchy, and the economy in mid-2010 was the worst most of us have ever seen! Looking back, 1999 and 2000 were great years for many; 2001 and 2002 were testy. Then it turned around and for most, through late 2008 it was fairly idyllic. But as we have seen, beware the “sign-wave” of new business! 2009 and 2010 are again proof-positive that agency new business can never be trusted! The agencies we represent are continually looking for great, PROFITABLE clients. We help you break through the clutter by introducing just those clients that are serious, that have the money, and are willing to follow a process that makes sense to everyone. New business development has always been a cyclical thing, and probably always will be.
We don’t pay to participate in reviews; now what?
A. That’s something we hear from time to time. Generally that’s coming from an agency that won’t pay to participate in a search being managed by a consultant already compensated by the client. That’s considered double dipping; it’s not ethical, and we don’t support it either. It’s opposed by 4A’s and that’s what they mean by “pay to play.”
Your Annual Subscription Fee is a commitment to an annual program. Our process and fee structure is not one of paying to participate but of membership. For budget purposes, we do offer agencies payment terms rather than requiring full payment in advance. However, we can not include or introduce any agency that is not willing to maintain a current and committed registration in AgencyFinder.
What’s wrong with my regular process of direct mail and calls?
A. Nothing — as long as your materials are outstanding, get to the decision-maker, arrive at just the right moment, are followed by an experienced qualified telephone pro who actually connects and then presents the right argument for “getting together.” New business acquisition requires all of these things to succeed. AgencyFinder supplements your efforts and ensures that a pool of serious, highly targeted prospects is consistently viewing your agency with a minimum of effort on your part.
Give me some feeling for the “numbers.”
A. The numbers are staggering. There are roughly 30,000 advertising agencies; 7,000 public relations firms; 9,000 direct marketing and sales promotion firms totaling more than 40,000! Not surprisingly, the majority (35,000) has fewer than ten employees. Imagine what it’s like for clients getting mailers and calls from just a few of these! That’s why it’s so hard to get past the gatekeeper and why few return your calls.
We have our own Web site. Isn’t that enough?
A. It’s the age-old question. How do they find you? They aren’t going to spend much time browsing if they have to visit more than a few sites to get the lay of the land. Time is money and most sites weren’t designed with a comparative search/selection process in mind. It takes an effort on all fronts to derive new business. One mailer, one ad, one banner. Alone they do nothing; together it’s a campaign.
The first stage of your process is anonymous, why?
A. Everyone wants the process to be unbiased. With AgencyFinder, the search is based on foundational capabilities and experience, not trendy or short-duration creative. This levels the playing field; brand name and brand-less agencies are equal in the eyes of searchers.
How does your process address the issue of agency/client chemistry?
A. Chemistry is a vital element in any great client/agency relationship. After all, people make the relationship work. Clients now search nationwide, even worldwide, for the best agency they can find. In reaching out, some mechanism is necessary to sort qualified candidates and connect the decision makers. Essays and case histories reveal more than facts; they shed light on the agency personality. And in business, birds of a feather like to flock together.
How do advertisers and clients learn about AgencyFinder?
A. We drive clients and agencies to AgencyFinder using a well-orchestrated multi-media campaign. We run periodic ads in industry publications. We use a multi-page, multi-color brochure to invite selected agencies. We employ a third-party SEO firm to manage our site attributes, and we use SEM at the major search engines. We conduct periodic advertiser and agency email campaigns.
Our ongoing print postcard campaign is directed at companies known to advertise and known to need agencies. We audit our database regularly to identify advertiser SIC categories where we have strong agency representation. We search the media daily for client/agency changes and make direct telephone, fax and e-mail contact. To help get the word out, we’re constantly working with technology experts to be certain searchers find AgencyFinder.
Industry and Internet media find our concept unique, so there’s great interest in our achievements. Our publicity includes newsworthy events, successful search awards, and multi-city press conferences along with advertiser and agency seminars.
How does AgencyFinder compare with other new business development options?
A. You be the judge. As a fee-paid member, your AgencyFinder investment is less than 5% of what it takes to hire a new business coordinator. If someone is already assigned to full-time outreach, or if you’ve spread new business around to an Executive Committee and account execs, our annual fee is probably less than 1%. Add the cost of collateral mailings, postage, telephone and computers and you get the point! Look into the cost of answering a typical RFP and particularly those instances where you’ll hire a pricey pitch consultant, and you’ll appreciate the value and cost-effectiveness of AgencyFinder.
How does AgencyFinder compare with other match-making services?
A. The majority of “match-making” services aren’t really match-makers, but flat file directories that guide searchers to firms by alpha-sort, by geographic location, by limited experience and offered services. The match-maker on those sites is the advertiser – they read and review the alpha choices and make their decision based on generally look-alike, read-alike verbiage. Have the Yellow Pages ever been a useful tool?
How do I learn about what’s happening at AgencyFinder?
A. We use periodic agency e-mail Flash Reports to keep you up-to-date. Where we can, we’ll announce client searches and agency victors. We’ll tell you more so you can compare and contrast your agency to the traffic we see. We even share search statistics so you can “grade” your agency. And behind the firewall, in your confidential agency record, there’s a counter that shows the number of times your agency made it into a preliminary round.
We also added an Agency Search Activity Detail Report in your profile. There, in addition to basic client search activity, you’ll find specific details including date of search, client budget, vertical market experience requested and client location. That’s useful information to fine-tune and enhance your record.
How do I know this works?
A. We’ve been working with agencies since 1997. We believe in agency new business and your need for every advantage. We created AgencyFinder after witnessing the difficulty agencies have sustaining new business development. The results speak for themselves: agencies that conscientiously participate in AgencyFinder get new business.
As new business consultants, and prior to founding AgencyFinder, we helped U.S. and Canadian advertising agencies and public relations firms win new business since 1990. Our staff has held conversations with more than 9.500 agency leaders; trained more than 2,000; taught students of all ages from east-to-west, north-to-south and in the UK and we have many loyal business clients. AgencyFinder is the culmination of years of experience and research to find a better way.
Michael Royse, President, Royse Wagner Inc., Champaign, IL
AgencyFinder actually gets the prospect ready to do business by making a well-informed choice. The leads are well beyond qualified and the RefNet program lets the agency have some protection when the account size is smaller. I love working with these guys! They earn the money.
Leila Bryner, Strategic Marketing Manager, Thomas Register, New York, NY
Selecting an agency is an important assignment. We had a long list of critical criteria, but equally important was conducting a private, non-publicized review. With today’s technologies, there’s no reason for a public announcement and the scramble that generally follows. AgencyFinder gave us privacy, a handful of qualified agencies and the best of all worlds. It’s a great service!
Glenn Sagon, President, Sagon-Phior, North Hollywood, CA
We joined AgencyFinder in May 1998. The concept sounded like a great idea whose time had finally come. Over the years, we’ve seen more than our fair share of invitations and introductions, and we’ve landed some nice business as well. All that activity more than paid for our renewals.
Scott Shipman, Marketing Manager, Owens Corning, Toledo, OH
For our search, we needed to act quickly and in confidence. Not only did AgencyFinder guide us to great qualified agencies, they also provided valuable “real-people” consulting. We were delighted with their professionalism, counsel and on-going service.