Author Archive

You’ve Landed a New One! Now 3 Principles of a Successful Client Onboarding Process

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

By Eric Taussig, Founder & CEO, Prialto

Making the client onboarding process successful is crucial for any service company.

When done well, your onboarding process is the mechanism through which your business development and/or sales team does an elegant handoff to your service delivery people. This instills confidence in your offering, and makes your new customer glad to have signed on with you.

Getting your client onboarding process right—especially when your service is offered remotely from a globally distributed team—is even more important and difficult.

Below, I outline three principles we’ve kept in mind while structuring our onboarding process, a process that we see as foundational to Prialto’s success.


3 PRINCIPLES OF A SUCCESSFUL CLIENT ONBOARDING PROCESS

1. Make the new customer glad to have signed on with you

Savvy buyers are always hesitant to sign on to a new service. They fear the inevitable productivity dip that takes place before a new service becomes additive.

Our new customers are particularly fearful. They worry that they will need to provide a lot of heavy personal management time to make our service work in light of our virtual assistants residing a world away in Asia and Latin America.

To overcome this, we work to awe the customer with the amount of management support we will provide on their behalf. We put their entire support team of virtual assistants and their manager on the onboarding call so that they hear from each person and understand how each of their roles will help make the service exceptionally “turnkey” such that the productivity dip common in adopting a new service will be minimal.

This addresses one of the greatest fears with which the customer comes to the new relationship. It puts them at ease and encourages them to follow our lead.

Instead of regretting that they’ve signed on, they rightly feel smart for having done so.

2. Create a detailed, personal and professional context around which to collaborate 

Contrary to conventional wisdom, studies show that when meetings begin with a bit of personal sharing they are more productive than meetings kept to “just business.” Sharing and honoring the personal context in which work is conducted creates the trust and respect that is foundational to work collaboration.

We begin each onboarding call by introducing each of the several key Prialto employees who comprise our new customers’ support team. By this time, we’ve already sent the new customer a detailed biography of his/her primary virtual administrative assistant. On the call, we outline each of the team members’ roles in helping the customer.

We then ask the new customer to introduce him/herself. While making the request, we invite the new customer to tell us about both the professional and personal aspects of his/her life.

When the new customer pauses, the Prialto team comments or asks follow-up questions to show that they understand the professional life being described, the personal world in which it takes place, and the connections between the two.

We follow these introductions with a series of preference questions. Many of these preferences might have been collected in advance of the call via a web form or survey. However, asking the questions on the call allow us to follow-up with personal insights and questions that further build trust, primarily my telling the new customer that “we’ve been here before.” We have worked with people like him/her, and we know how to successfully lead a busy professional through the productivity dip to the “sweet spot” in which the service we offer is creating lasting value.

These questions and introductions also help bridge the context gap between our customer operating in a high pressure North American business environment and the world in which our virtual assistants live in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

3. Begin taking steps to ensure continuity

Customers who sign on with a firm for a new service are often attracted by one particular partner, employee or executive. But the firm and the customer hope the service is not dependent on any one or two people.

Building continuity of service starts with the client onboarding call. That’s why the call should never be with just one person. It should always be with the broader support team.

It’s important to note that someone on your team should always document all preferences and key information shared on the call. And whenever possible, the call should be recorded (if that’s okay with the new customer).

THE ONBOARDING BRIDGE

Services are difficult to sell because of all the trust building required between provider and buyer. The provider must convince the buyer that the productivity dip will be minimal, and the buyer must convince the provider that s/he will be a customer capable of riding out the productivity dip.

A good client onboarding process will:

  • Help the new customer slow down in a time-efficient way in order to get started
  • Help overcome the business and social context gap between the service provider and service buyer
  • Begin the process of ensuring continuity of service for both the firm and the customer

By proactively addressing each of these bulleted needs, the onboarding process becomes an elegant handoff from sales to service that positivity defines your brand.

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Major Homebuilder With Projects in Western States Has Plans For Expansion and Needs an Agency That Can Grow As They Do

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Pitchcast, USA/North America

We’re pursuing a growth strategy into new markets as well as further penetration into existing markets. Our emphasis is on building single family dwellings for entry level to move-up buyers. We are looking for an enterprise-level branding agency with experience in production homebuilding and that will be a real plus to help us scale up efficiently and with little ramp-up time. The agency we are looking for will have a fresh and energetic creative approach for application in digital media, our primary means of touching potential buyers as they begin home search, and to present a constant stream of ways to differentiate ourselves. Budget: $250,001 – $500,000 Fees & Production.

AgencyFinder Celebrates 20 Years Finding and Hiring Advertising Agencies for Clients.

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Publicity

This easy, precise and free service is designed for marketers with budgets less than $75MM

Advertisers seeking the very best in marketing agency partners (i.e. – ad agencies, digital, social, integrated and PR firms) find their searches complicated and often expensive. Traditional search consultants can be pricey and a normal unaided Internet search can be frustrating. Unless the budget is considerable, the client CMO is often left to fend for themselves.

In fall 1997, Charles “Chuck” Meyst, Chairman & CEO of Business Partnering International, Ltd. recognized that fact and along with industry veterans, introduced AgencyFinder.com, the Internet’s first and only on-line and off-line consulting service to match advertisers searching for a marketing or advertising agency with an advertising agency seeking new clients …

That search process then and now draws upon a database of more than 8,000 domestic and International marketing offices with managed profiles containing in excess of 500 data fields. The first search pass is done by the onboard search engine; the last pass(es) are done by AgencyFinder consultants. Clients review all candidates, then AgencyFinder extends agency invitations. The turn-key service is offered to clients in all categories at no-cost; registered agencies sponsor the service with their annual participation dues.

Chuck Meyst comments, “I’m pleased and proud of the many advertisers and agencies we’ve introduced over the years and many are still working together. I never cease to be amazed by the clients who register to search and where they are located. One day Los Angeles; next day Tokyo. And with budgets from less than $100,000 to more than $100 Million. We’re best suited for client budgets less than $75 Million; larger than that the traditional search consultants have those companies covered!”

Advertiser Testimony: http://www.agencyfinder.com/testimonial_cat/advertiser-testimonials/

About AgencyFinder.com – Agencyfinder.com is a service and dba of Business Partnering International, Ltd. (BPI), a Virginia corporation. The service is unique in its match-making process for pairing advertising, public relations and marketing agencies with clients and is intended for use by companies seeking agency support for projects, campaigns or long-term relationships. Searching is free to marketers and supported with complimentary search consulting advice provided by BPI’s executive staff.

Contact:

Charles G. Meyst, Chairman & CEO
Business Partnering International, Ltd.

Dba AgencyFinder.com
4327 Cox Road, Center Park
Glen Allen, VA 23060

Web: http://www.agencyfinder.com/

Email:

Phone Voice: 804.346.1812
Fax: 804.346.1940

 

Five Rules for Pursuing Project Work – Applies to Agencies of All Size

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Some firms don’t take project work at all, while for others project revenue vastly outstrips the income from their few ongoing clients. What’s the proper role of project work in your firm, and what’s the proper approach to pursuing or vetting it? In this article I lay out some specific guidelines on projects as a part of your overall client mix, and the rules of pursuing and accepting project work.

My own experience has been that the most profitable firms are the ones with what I would call ‘tighter’ client bases – fewer, more loyal clients who entrust their firm with a large percentage of their budgets, rather than breaking it up among many firms. Although I haven’t formally quantified this, it has been my experience that firms with higher volume of project work are busier but less profitable than their more AOR-focused counterparts. While I’m a firm believer in the idea of ‘fewer clients, more money,’ I recognize that for many firms project work is helpful at plugging capacity gaps. What follows are five rules on pursuing and accepting project work, and some final guidance on the mix of projects to longer term engagements.

Rule #1: Don’t Chase It

It may be okay (or even highly lucrative) to take project work, but, with few exceptions, most established firms shouldn’t be pursuing it. Your business development goals should be focused on replacing your outgoing clients with even better, more lucrative incoming clients, while striving to keep the ongoing client base at somewhere between eight and twelve clients. Through regular business development activities, and just by answering the phone, project work will come at you. Short of finding enough project work, your bigger challenge is probably saying no to the bad stuff, so don’t focus business development resources on an outreach program that targets project work. Project-based opportunities are a natural by-product of targeting larger ongoing engagements, but with rare exceptions, you should not be devoting business development outreach attention or resources to it.

Rule #2: Don’t Offer Incentives for It

Your business development incentives should be focused on rewarding personnel for managing the churn of on-going clients, and should not reward for project work. Discretionary bonuses for project work, at the end of the year, are okay, but keep the focus, and the incentives, on the larger ongoing clients.

Rule #3: Object to It

When a prospect inquires about project work, the first thing you want to do is remind him that you are not in the project business. “We’re not in the brochure business. We’re in the business of creating total brand experiences.” (As a broad hypothetical example.) “We often do brochures as part of that, but if someone’s just looking for a brochure we usually refer them elsewhere. Let me ask you, is your brochure part of a larger undertaking?”

If your efforts to uncover a more comprehensive need come up empty (“No, we just need a brochure,”) you still have the option to take the work. “Before I say no, let me ask you a few questions…”

If your questions into the project reveal it to be a potentially lucrative one, and you happen to have the capacity then perhaps this is a project worth considering. Either way, by leading with your objection (“We’re not in the brochure business”) you should have positioned yourself well if the project is indeed a desirable one. It’s now the prospect’s turn to talk you into waiving your no-project policy and taking this on. Remember that you reserve the right to retract every ‘no’ or every objection or obstacle that you place in front of the prospect. Creating these objections allows you to gauge whether or not he recognizes and values your expertise. As you begin your retreat from the opportunity does he follow, or does he let you walk away?

Rule #4: Don’t Compete for It

You’ve established with the prospect that you are not in the project business. You’ve questioned him further about the assignment and found that it is indeed well suited to your firm and could be quite lucrative. If the capacity to do the assignment is there then this might be a project worth taking. Before you remove the obstacle (“We don’t do projects”) make sure that every other potential obstacle to doing business is identified and addressed.

You don’t want to say, “Okay, we’ll do it,” only to hear, “Great – we’ll get back to you after we talk to three other firms,” or, “Good, I’ll send you the RFP.”

You might say, “If we did decide to waive our no-project rule and take this on, what would need to happen before we agreed to get started?” If you hear, “We would need to meet with the other firms and decide on one,” or “I need to get approval from my boss,” then your job is to direct the prospect to go do what he has to do, then come back to you for a decision on whether you will waive your no-project policy afterward. If the prospect tries to put you to work (responding to an RFP as an example) then politely send him on his way. You want to get to the point where the prospect says, “We’ve ruled out other firms – we’d prefer to work with you, and I have approval to hire you right now if you’ll accept the assignment.” Then and only then do you agree to remove the objection – your no-project policy, and take the assignment.

Rule #5: Don’t Take Tactical Work That Would Neuter Strategic Opportunity

You’ll often encounter a prospect who dangles a project in front of you as an opportunity to ‘test the fit’ before they commit to you. While it is perfectly appropriate for you to agree to take a small first step with a client in order to assess the fit for a larger engagement, a first step should be just that – a first step and not a sample twenty-fifth step. By this I mean start at the beginning, which is almost always your diagnosis of the problem, or your validation of the client’s own diagnoses. To jump right to project work that is based on a bunch of assumptions may offer insight to the client on what it would be like to work with your firm on a daily basis, but it will offer no insight into your more valuable (and lucrative) strategic problem solving skills. Further, you’ll have to do some form of strategic work (diagnose and prescribe) to be able to deliver a tactical solution, but you’ll do it without the client’s full involvement, without fully applying your methods, and without appropriate compensation.

In short, don’t agree to a tactical ‘test’ that will only position you as a tactician and impair your ability to get paid for the strategic engagements. You’re better to suggest a phased engagement that has the two parties begin at the beginning, with your diagnostic and strategic development processes. Offer an opt-out point somewhere between strategy and creative platform at which the client can walk away if they don’t like the fit, or the work you’ve produced. You can further sweeten the pot by adding a money-back guarantee for the first phase. Together, these steps allow you to begin at the beginning, charge fairly for your strategic work, and allow the client a test period and an escape clause with no financial risk.

Summing Up

It should be clear now that I am not advising you to decline all project work. Focus on the larger on-going assignments. Don’t offer incentives beyond discretionary year-end ones for project work. When the subject is broached, lead with the objection that you’re not in the project business, then search for a larger underlying opportunity. If the project seems like one you should take, make sure you get every other potential objection dealt with before you agree to take it. And finally, never put the cart before the horse and agree to take a tactical project as a test of a more strategic or total engagement.

A Healthy Project Mix

What should your revenue mix be – project-to-AOR? If your total project work represents more than 25%-30% of your revenue, I suspect you might be doing too much of it and impairing your ability to more lucratively position your firm as an expert advisor seeking more complete, longer term engagements.

Tips to Help Your Agency Manage Client Expectations

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Partenerships

by Jordyn Walters

The best client-agency relationships are built on trust and mutual understanding. When you take steps to manage client expectations from the get-go, you will maintain that strong relationship through the ups and downs that are bound to happen when marketing firms and clients team up. We are all human, after all.

Think back to the last client you brought onboard. More than likely you spent ample time preparing to win them over. This includes meetings, presentations, potential brand renderings, timelines, strategies, and budgets. You were living and breathing that client. And sure, when the good times are rolling, it’s a snap to keep the client relationship healthy and satisfied. But what about when that roll hits a speed bump? It takes experience and attentiveness to keep the trust going so you can maintain the client’s relationship and their expectations. Utilize the following tips to improve communication and manage the client:

1.       Stick to the agreed upon strategy.
The agency and client should always be on the same page. You are grabbing a one-way ticket to an uncomfortable conversation with your client when they are expecting one thing and you are expecting another. Everything that you do for them should be defined ahead of time so there is no confusion when the numbers start rolling in. For example, if the client has a different expectation of a certain goal than the agency does, it is only a matter of time before there’s a collision and the relationship gets a kink. Choose a strategy with the client and create a document that outlines everything. If you do this, you are less likely to receive pushback down the road.

2.       Don’t just have a client-agency relationship. Have a true relationship.
Not only is it more pleasant to meet and work with a client, but it makes the relationship that much stronger and understanding when you know the client on a personal level. Take the time to have interest in their lives, whether it’s their family life, their favorite places to eat in the area, or what makes them get up in the morning. Having a relationship built on more than business builds a foundation that allows for more accurate strategies and exceeded goals.

3.       Stay in control.
Remember, the client came to you for help. You should be steering the ship from day one. You’re the expert. Whenever a client feels like they need to keep tabs on their agency you are in danger of losing that trust and more importantly the respect for your expertise. Stay true to the strategy outline, be transparent, and absolutely communicate. Some clients may be more difficult to guide than others, but it is important to remember that you are the leader and the expert. Show your confidence and it will transfer to the client.

4.       Provide monthly reports of progress and success.

Oftentimes the client benefits more from seeing the big picture when they get tangible updates. As long as you are doing your job and the reports show movement every month, the client will appreciate having something tangible. Providing monthly summaries reminds the client of your value and the fruits of that labor. Even with constant communication, the lack of monthly reporting can mean the big picture gets lost in the shuffle. Before you know it, you’ll have angry client’s asking where that movement is. Still stay in contact regularly, but remember there is a great benefit to sending monthly analytics.

Do you have any tips for managing client expectations? Leave them in the comments below!

When is Too Much Too Much? When is Not Enough Not Enough? That’s The Message We Need Delivered – Can Your Agency Do It?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Pitchcast, USA/North America

Our business has to do with the old swimming hold, but not your Daddy’s old swimming hole. Ours and yours is concrete with filters and additives.  We manufacture, sell and market recreational pool and spa treatment chemicals for residential use. Looking for an agency to assist in developing and executing a marketing campaign to educate consumers on a specific issue they are likely unaware of and communicate the specific product we’ve developed to address that issue. Envision social media as one candidate. Budget: $100,001 – $250,000 Fees, production & media  Location: Southeast

Global (International) Hearing Aid Agency Review

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Flash Reports

CONTENTS:

  1. Global Hearing Aid Review
  2. The Old Cooks & Broth Story
  3. Alec Bradley Search
  4. Sunsof Search
  5. GuidedChoice Search
  6. Famous Smoke Shop Search
  7. Pheasants Forever Search
  8. In Memoriam

GLOBAL (INTERNATIONAL) HEARING AID AGENCY REVIEW

When first posted at our PitchCast it read: Top International powerhouse in the assisted hearing industry planning to find and hire an advertising partner. Headquartered in Europe but looking for a firm in Metro New York, the project will focus on delivering an impactful launch campaign for a new line of hearing aids. This global campaign must generate awareness with both end users and hearing aid professionals and traffic (leads) into hearing aid clinics. Client indicates a budget of $2,500,001 – $5,000,000 Covers: Advertising (fees, production & media).

We don’t normally “pre-announce” but this agency review is unusual and global. The client has narrowed it down to their finalists, and now they will be transported to the client’s European headquarters (at the client’s expense). I’d love to tell you all about these folks and how they do business and have been doing business, but that’s not our place to do so. I am however wishing success to all competitors! Results to come.

THE OLDE TOO MANY COOKS & BROTH STORY

You’ve heard that too many cooks spoil the broth, right? Well, on that topic many of you have asked my opinion on the ever-growing universe of “new business” provocateurs. Here’s where I come from … To function as a match-maker (other than list broker) I contend you must have walked in the shoes of an agency business development person or a marketing director on the client side. When I visit About Us on those recent interlopers, I see people with IT experience, but a distinct lack of the later. Assuming you’ve participated in at least one client’s review in your business life, you KNOW it’s much more than writing code or “connect-the-dots.”

Back some time ago there was a proliferation of “List” websites. Agencies spent valuable employee time and for some it was great summer intern project building profiles that were worthless from day one. For a short time folks even tried to keep those profiles updated but when reality set in, they stopped. If you’re looking at a new “Agency New Business” vendor website, study their people and their credentials before you spend your time – or your money.

HOW ABOUT SOME RECENT SEARCH RESULTS …

ALEC BRADLEY SEARCH Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL Budget: $250,001 – $500,000 (fees, production & media) Client-Category: Tobacco products, Beer, wine, liquors, Luxury items Awarded to: PriceWeber, Location: Louisville, KY Contenders: One Eighteen, Los Angeles, CA, Current360, Louisville, KY,

SUNSOF SEARCH (Laura’s Empanadas) Location: Miami, FL Budget:  $100,001 – $350,000 (fees, production & media) Client-Category: Food, Food Service   Awarded to: evok advertising, Heathrow, FL  Contenders: LatinBrand, San Antonio, TX Stokes, McNutt & Partners, Auburn, AL

GUIDEDCHOICE SEARCH Location: San Diego, CA Budget: $100,001 – $250,000 (fees & production – no media) Client-Category: Financial Services  Awarded to:  Sagon-Sagon, Los Angeles, CA Contenders: Trone Brand Energy, High Point, NC Johnson Gray Advertising, Laguna Beach, CA One Eighteen, Los Angeles, CA

FAMOUS SMOKE SHOP SEARCH Location: Easton, PA Budget: TBA PR Fees  Category: Tobacco Products  Multiple Awards to: Amplify Relations, Reno Nevada; Barker, New York; PriceWeber, Louisville, KY;  SBC Advertising, Columbus, OH The assignment was expanded and subsequently awarded to more than one. Search timeline also extended to accommodate new FDA requirements, as would be the case at all tobacco-products companies.

PHEASANTS FOREVER SEARCH (on behalf of Honey Bee & Monarch Butterfly Partnership (HB&MBP)  Location: Elba, NE & others   Budget:  $100,001 – $250,000  fees, production & media  Category: Charities, Environmental (as in Green),  Fundraising, Non-profit  Awarded to: McDaniels Marketing Location: Pekin, IL Contenders: Crosby-Volmer, Washington DC,  Sagon-Phior, Los Angeles, The Monogram Group, Chicago

IN MEMORIAM

Michael Todd Roden

Manager, Information Technology

AgencyFinder.com

1959 – 2017

I regret to announce the recent passing of Michael “Mike” Todd Roden, our WebMaster here at AgencyFinder.com since our earliest days in 1999. Mike was the genius behind the complex algorithms that searchers used to find, examine, invite and meet some of the finest marketing firms in the world. Many of you had occasion to speak with him to resolve technical issues. Mike died unexpectedly while on a business trip. He will be missed and most difficult to replace. We extend our condolences to his family and many friends.

During the transition you may have noticed our website was down. It’s now back up operating as designed.

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Four Steps To Lead Generation Success

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

by Blair Enns of Win Without Pitching

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” John Wanamaker

Amen, brother John. Amen. When it comes to the various ways a creative firm might generate leads at the top of their funnel, I’ll admit that for too long I’ve been guilty of saying “Do all these things… some of them are bound to work.”

Blogging. Speaking. Webinars. Outbound calling and emailing. Networking. The more you can do, the more leads you’re likely to generate. It’s hard to argue with the general principle but it’s reasonable to expect that someone like me who has seen the insides of hundreds of firms should have some theories for what works and what does not. I do now, but I’ll admit that it’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to tease out some of the patterns of effective lead generation.

Below are some principles for reducing the lead generation waste. Before I share them, allow me to reiterate my usual caveat about positioning: good marketing for something that has many substitutes isn’t good marketing at all. Marketing begins with assessing what is missing in the market and then matching a solution to that unmet need. If you don’t have something that is meaningfully different to some market segment then lead generation will always be difficult.

With that out of the way, here are four steps to building a simpler, more powerful and less wasteful lead generation program.

1. Bet On One Thing
If you had to bet all your chips on just one lead generation vehicle, on which would you bet? Put another way, if you were only allowed to undertake one activity or form of lead generation for years to come, which one would you choose? Few reply that they would smile-and-dial although that is what many have done for years. Most pick something that would drive inbound leads, like a blog, speaking, writing a book (or books). Some might launch a YouTube channel. Some a podcast. What One Thing would you do?

When I think of the firms that drive numerous inbound leads they all have one very clear thing they do. Their lead generation efforts are as focused as their positioning. They’ve resisted diluting their efforts across numerous channels, avoiding Warren Buffet’s admonishment that “Diversification is for people who don’t know what they are doing.”

To Buffet’s quote I will add my favourite from Peter Drucker. “In business, all profit comes from risk.” The rewards you seek (high-quality inbound leads) are more likely to come to you if you take some risk and bet on One Thing. Risk mitigation is at the root of lead generation inefficiencies. Focus more, take more risk, and do less.

Your One Thing should constitute between 60% and 80% of your lead generation resources of time and money.

2. Now Pair It With a Complementary Thing
Marshall McLuhan noted that media tend to travel in pairs. Newspapers deliver type. Television, video. The Internet can deliver type, video or audio. The same principle applies to your lead generation One Thing, albeit more loosely, like a complementary pairing of wine and food. If you choose to write books, as an example, it will pair nicely with speaking, or blogging. Perhaps the blog becomes the vehicle through which you write the book. Or the speeches are the now-easy-to-obtain platform that get you face to face with your prospects after the book is written.

The key though is to decide on the One Thing and then pick the second Complementary Thing that helps you achieve or leverage the One Thing. If you misuse the idea of a Complementary Thing to hedge your bet on the One Thing then you will just create more work for yourself and dilute your impact. It really is One Thing aided by a truly Complementary Thing. Once you get traction with your One Thing, numerous Complementary Things will present themselves to you and many will be easy to pull off. You are free to pursue them or to remain focused on your One and Complementary Things.

3. Strive To Own The Channel
When choosing your One Thing choose something that you can own or dominate. I know firms that have founded conferences, networks, radio shows and other lead gen channels in which they had such a massive presence that it just would not make sense for competitors to try to replicate or follow. To choose blogging in a field where everyone is blogging and a competitor is already dominant might not be the wisest decision. Seth Godin blogs and writes books. He decided against other social media because, in his words “I couldn’t be the best in the world at it.”

Another book on branding? Probably not ownable. If someone has already written the definitive book on your area of expertise perhaps you should look for another channel. If the space is crowded with books but none that truly stand out then sure, got for it, but you really have to have something new and meaningful to say.

One more smart, but not belief-rattling, blog on healthcare marketing? That field is crowded. A YouTube channel or virtual conference, however? Those might be easier to dominate.

There’s a nuance here that I won’t be able to fully explore in this brief post and it centres around the idea of perspective. Perspective–an over-arching point of view on the firm’s area of focus–is the final differentiator that separates a well-positioned firm from its few remaining direct competitors. If your perspective is strong enough (contrarian but still accessible) then you don’t have to seek to dominate a marketing channel in your market, you simply need to dominate that point of view within it.

With a strong contrarian perspective it may make sense to launch an assault on a larger competitor’s dominant channel with the goal not to replace them but to carve out a devoted niche and achieve “leading alternative” status.

4. Consider Leveraging Your Discipline
It’s interesting to note that advertising agencies almost never advertise, direct marketing firms almost never build formal direct-based lead gen programs for themselves, experiential marketing firms rarely create their own experiences to drive leads and while most public relations firms claim to get business through word of mouth, few employ a formal plan for themselves like the ones they might sell to a client. Only social media firms seem to embrace the discipline they trade in to drive their own leads.

In the Win Without Pitching program we have a full term dedicated to Closing With Case Studies–an approach that uses carefully built IP-based case studies to derail pitches and eliminate unpaid proposal writing. Using “process-framed case studies” to close this way is powerful, but it is even more powerful when you use your own firm as one of your case studies.

Put yourself in your potential client’s shoes for a minute: from whom would rather buy discipline X?

A) Someone who does not use it
B) Someone who uses it
C) Someone who uses it and can use their own firm as a case study for how they use it and why you should use it too?

Someone in category A will lose out to someone in category B most of the time, and will lose to someone in category C almost all of the time.

In summary, bet on One Thing. Then add a Complementary Thing. Strive to own the One Thing channel you select, and if you cannot own the channel strive for the leading alternative in the channel by owning a provocative point of view, one that’s contrary to that of the leader’s. Finally, if at all possible, make that One Thing the discipline that you sell or most often trade in. The combination will focus your efforts, reduce waste and make you far more compelling to your target market.

P.S. – Chuck writes “I have to admit; I was hoping Blair would be even more specific!”

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Meet 34 Advertising Agency Search Consultants

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

By Peter Levitan

There are 34 advertising agency search consultants listed below. There are surely many more when you add in local and part time consultants.

Savvy search consultants generally act as personal shoppers for larger advertisers trying to locate the perfect agency out of hundreds, even thousands, of specific agency options. It is estimated that about 10% to 15% of all searches use the services of a consultant (I am thinking about dollar volume not total agency searches.) I suspect that the number of consultant led pitches is well over 50% for clients that have large budgets, complicated accounts (think global ala Microsoft’s recent search) and now, highly specialized agency requirements.

SHOULD YOUR AGENCY CONTACT SEARCH CONSULTANTS?

Should your agency contact the search consultants on this list? Yes and no.

Here is the drill. Most of these consultants work for larger clients and they have hundreds of agencies to keep track of. They get lots of incoming from agencies every day — see the interviews below. Based on my 28 years of conversations with search consultants, I can tell you that most of the incoming agency information gets ignored even in a fast paced world where consultants need to keep abreast of the agency universe. Why? Agencies get ignored because most agencies do not really have a realistic reason to get on the consultant’s radar.

Realistic? Consultants are primarily interested in a core set of agency attributes. Obviously, they are looking for agencies that match their current searches. However, in general, any new agency (new to market or new to them) needs to have some distinctive attribute to get a consultant’s attention. That means having a good reason for these busy consultants to pay attention to you. What might that mean?

Here are some examples of what I would get my attention if I were a consultant:

Are you seriously creative (like really creative and can prove it?)
Have you been discovered by the trade press?
Can your agency handle really large, complex accounts?
Do you have international offices?
Did your team just leave a hot agency where you’all did famous work?
Do you have media planning and buying expertise?
Do you have demonstrable digital expertise? You can’t just say we do social media. Did you crack mobile advertising?
Do you have deep experience in an important client category?
Are you known for your strategic chops?
Is your name as ignore-free as Barton F. Graf 9000?
Get the picture?

The bottom line is that you need to think about what agency attributes will be of value to the consultant. Do you have some special sauce that a consultant needs to know about for their business and clients? Before you make any contact, please take the time to understand what search consultants look for.

For the full list, follow this link:

Note: All if not the majority of these consultants are hired by the client and paid by the client. They should never solicit agency payment to participate in a review nor should they charge for being in their database (if they have one). Payment from both sides is “double-dipping” and unethical. In order to afford these consultant fees, the client needs to be dealing with a significant budget and at that, will be looking for agencies with capitalized billings some 3 to 4 times that budget. In most cases, smaller agencies are wasting their time hoping for consideration.

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The agency finder Process. A New Writer writes …

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

If you are part of an advertising agency looking to sign up with an agency finder service, there are certain steps that you can take to help get in the client line. A new business development program is not the only option to finding new clients, and it is also not the only way to find new clients. Many reputable advertising agencies have partnered with agency finders to help make contact with clients that are the perfect fit.

An agency finder works similar to other finders or hunters you may have heard of or experienced before. Apartment finders and head-hunters are similar businesses that work in a matchmaker way. As certainly are eHarmony.com and Match.com. Even the best, most experienced high quality agencies are subject to slow failure without clients and need to sustain their business. Therefore, it is important that agencies have a shoulder to lean on that helps their business flow and stay stable.

There are steps that need to be taken for an agency to become a part of an agency finder. To be the best prepared for such an occurrence, the process typically starts with filling out a profile. The agency will create a standard or lengthy profile; the best have more than 500 fields. While this may seem time consuming, it is simple and a small price to pay to get your agency’s name out there. Example database fields that you’d fill out for your profile include industry and market experience, billing options, agency services, location and the area you serve, employee census, and media experience.

When a client searches for their new agency, they normally select from sample fields to find their perfect match. This is why it is important that all fields of the profile be filled out accurately. After this, an agency finder and the client will discuss optional agencies together, and look through your agency’s case studies and other submitted profile essays that include strengths, philosophies, and creative approaches.

Whenever the time comes for the client to choose, an agency finder will contact the chosen marketing agency and inform them that they are invited to reach out and hold their telephone interview with the client. Registered agencies will then need to become “fee-paid” (if not already) where those fees are annual or initial. They will vary based on the client budget. Considering there will be ample business and income gained from agency finder introductions, agencies should rest easy that their investments are not wasted.

Remember, an agency should never feel obligated to work with a client and a client should never feel obligated to work with an agency. Declining an offer is entirely up to each party. Do be considerate in the time you take to decide however. More than likely there is another marketing agency or public relations firm waiting on your answer to learn if they have now made the cut.

Guest author – Jordyn Walters

Check out what makes AgencyFinder so different:
http://www.agencyfinder.com/about/what-is-agencyfinder/

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