Author Archive

“As a next step, I’d like you to come back with some concepts on what this campaign might look like.”

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

Guest Author – Blair Enns, Win Without Pitching

The client was politely but firmly taking charge, proposing what he clearly saw as a logical next step. Even though he was still a prospect at this point and not a paying client, he seemed to be conditioned to believe that our firm doing work for free made sense for all. I didn’t see it that way. Matching both his politeness and assuredness, I replied without skipping a beat, “We never pitch.” It was a lie. We pitched all the time but I was getting tired of it. I’d seen this film before and I knew how it ended. I wanted to try to change the ending, even if I didn’t know what should come after my small act of defiance. What made this particular exchange interesting though was that my boss, the president of the firm, was seated next to me and he replied to the client at exactly the same moment I did. “That sounds good,” he said. Cue the awkward silence.

It’s so long ago now that I don’t recall what happened next. I think I remember the three of us exchanging glances, Mexican standoff-like, but I don’t remember what language my boss or I spun to extricate ourselves with minimal embarrassment before we retreated to work on the pitch. I do know the client never hired us. I don’t think he hired anybody. It was the classic example of an overeager salesperson (me) mistaking interest for intent, and then an agency CEO, who had flown in for a meeting that never should have been, wanting to salvage something from the trip. Neither do I remember the details of the conversation with my boss that followed. I vaguely recall there was no real friction between us. I think he appreciated my alternative approach but would have liked to have known in advance what the play was going to be. The problem was that I myself didn’t know. I just sensed another client who was about to put us to work, for free, and not hire us.

If we list the things that went wrong on this opportunity, we find: 

1.     The client had not yet formed any intent to solve his problem, therefore, in all likelihood, the meeting never should have happened. At the very least it was poorly qualified beforehand. Wasting your boss’s time and money by having him fly in for a poorly-qualified meeting is a major no-no. In all likelihood, he was probably coming to town anyway and asked me to line up some new business meetings. (Again, the details elude me.) Such a request is perfectly legitimate but also enough pressure to cause a salesperson to set up meetings that shouldn’t be. I don’t remember anything about the dialogue that led to the meeting, but I’ll bet it was me pushing for it and not the client. In such a context the dynamics become clear, with the client thinking, “these people really want my business. Of course, they’ll bring me some free ideas!”

2.     We let the client lead in the meeting and then we agreed to follow even though the place he was leading us to wasn’t in our best interest, or at least I didn’t see it as such.

3.     We, my boss and I, were not operating from the same playbook. I had contradicted him in front of the client. If I had told him in advance how I wanted to handle such a request, I think he would have agreed to play it my way. He was a great that way. But it wasn’t part of any predetermined plan of mine either.

All the errors seem silly to me now, but back then I just didn’t know. I was a new business person. It’s not like there was anything that resembled training for this role. You copied what was done by those around you and those that went before you, based on the stories and the decks. And you improvised.

In the many years since this incident I’ve seen that this lack of cohesion on business development topics is common–perhaps even the norm–even if most examples don’t manifest themselves in a subordinate putting his boss in an awkward position the way I did. Just today I heard from an executive at a medium-to-large independent firm frustrated at the firm’s leadership team’s inability to get on the same page. “We have rules we’ve agreed to about when we will pitch and when we won’t but we break those rules all the time, and we always lose.”

There are so many different challenges that can affect a firm’s new business success, but not having everyone agree on some basic policies and procedures has got to be one of the most common and most significant.

If you’re trying to extricate your firm from a new business rut, a good place to start would be to get all the key players together (I mean ALL. Don’t let the chief transgressors skip this.) and agree on some basic new business rules, such as:

What do we require from the client before we will incur any expense?
What information do we need before we agree to a meeting?
Under what conditions will we respond to an RFP?
What is the smallest engagement it makes sense to take on?

Of course, agreeing on the rules and enforcing them are two different things. I suggest that once you lay out the rules, commit to a brief postmortem on each late stage opportunity (any opportunity that proceeds to a win or a loss) and, rule by rule, ask yourselves how you did. After a few such reviews, the patterns of transgressing and enabling will become clear. Then you need to decide what to do about  that . You can cross that bridge when you come to it. For now, commit to getting everybody on the same page by setting up the rules and reviewing every won or lost opportunity against them

###

A Logistics & Marketing Challenge – Client Wants Agency to Recommend, Create and Manage Consistent Message Across Various Forms of Media

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

Client offers residential, commercial, and municipal solid waste collection service. The website shows their Texas service area. The service area is mostly rural, but does include some larger cities. They are also currently growing in the Houston market. They want an agency that can recommend, create and manage a consistent message across various forms of media and help redevelop their website. They have no preconceived notion as to which one or how many media alternatives should be used, but have had some experience with direct mail. Open to hearing any and all thoughts for marketing and increasing the size, awareness, recognition, penetration and success of our company! Budget indicated: $100,001 – $250,000 

Invitation Deliverability

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Flash Reports

CONTENTS:

  1. Invitation Deliverability
  2. Leads, Leads, Leads, What’s a Lead?
  3. You Don’t Have to be a Pit Bull
  4. Virginia International University Search
  5. L’Oréal Search
  6. Widex Search
  7. Lonza Search
  8. Your Unfinished Profile
  9. What’s New? Check Out PitchCast

============================================================================

INVITATION DELIVERABILITY

Client wants to interview your agency. What’s Step One?  Getting you the invitation. Sounds simple enough but in today’s world of over populated media alternatives (we consider phone, fax, email, FedEx, USPS as media) it ain’t so simple anymore. We’ve tried everything but our most successful has been 1. Email notification of pending invite 2. Fax or email invitation 3. Telephone follow-up to confirm & explain. This works when 1. Your profile is current 2. The right folks are at Primary and alternate NB contacts 3. We have correct emails 4. You have white-listed us as the sender. chuck@agencyfinder.com bpi@agencyfinder.com  Any suggestions to the contrary?

LEADS, LEADS, LEADS, WHAT’S A LEAD?

What’s that up in the sky? Are those birds? Is that Superman? No those are lead vendors and they are everywhere! We got this email recently: “I ran across agencyfinder.com this afternoon in my search for lead generation options for our agency. Employing an outside lead generation option is a new concept for us so I was hoping you could point me in the right direction.”

We responded: “We don’t deliver leads, rather invitations from clients who are serious about finding and hiring a new marketing partner and doing so now. They’ve also used our service to generate a Request for Dialogue that in most cases allows for the elimination of the infamous RFP. A veteran “new business kinda guy” once described a “lead” this way …  Imagine you are sitting at a 2-top in McDonalds adjacent to a noisy group of four, discussing dissatisfaction with their current agency – and a commitment to find someone new. You note the name of the agency and after lunch, rush to call your friend who owns an agency. You share the story and agency identification. That’s a “lead.” Make sense?”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A PIT BULL

Most agency people are artists of some sort or degree; they aren’t natural-born sales-dogs. So it’s a mistake to expect or try to train your New Business Pro to bite and snap like a Pit Bull (as a pit bull owner I hate that often-used analogy). Pity the poor prospect receptionist that’s bombarded by pit bulls demanding to speak with the CMO or equivalent. In your back pocket place the following key to the front door – “I need some assistance; could you help please?

WIDEX SEARCH

Location: Hauppauge NJ & Denmark Budget:  $2.5MM – $5.0MM public relations & public affairs Client-Category: Medical Ads & Devices Awarded to: Advance, Denmark Contenders: MarketSmith, NY, gyro, NY

LONZA SEARCH

Location: Alpharetta, GA Budget: $100K – $250K (fees & production) Client-Category: Chemicals, Cleaning agents, Waste & Water Treatment Awarded to: Scout, Atlanta Contender: Point b, Atlanta, GA

VIRGINIA INTERNATIONAL SEARCH

Location: Fairfax, VA Budget: $100,001 – $250,000 (fees, production & media) Client-Category: Education, Schools, colleges & universities Awarded to: Sparkroom, Paramus, NJ Contenders: ndp, Richmond, VA, Charles Ryan Associates, Richmond, VA.

L’OREAL SEARCH

Location: Montreal, Canada Budget: $100K – $250K (fees & production) Client-Category: Cosmetics, toiletries, feminine hygiene products Awarded to in-house marketing department. Contenders: The Mars Agency, Toronto, CA, Shikatani Lacroix, Toronto, CN

YOUR UNFINISHED PROFILE

Check to see if your profile is Active & Ready for Client Invitations. Maybe you didn’t realize we give you over 500 data fields to select from. Login with the information above. On the landing page, click #13 – View Your Report (Confidential Version). You should see Iridium, Director’s Club or RefNet | Approved | Paid or Unpaid.  If you see Iridium | Not Yet Approved | then finish up. Iridium is the initial no-fee level; But unless you are Approved you can’t be found or invited.

WHAT’S NEW? CHECK OUT PITCHCAST

Buncha good stuff going on – check it out. Let us know if you see a fit.

###

 

High-Tech West Coast Company Developed and Owns Patents on High-Volume Consumer Product. You have an Opportunity to Tell the World

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

Can’t share too much publicly, but we want a technical ad agency that has prior experience working with engineering/technical firms and is research and data driven. We want help with market research and help finding potential applications for our unique battery chemistry. We would like an agency able to write technical articles on our behalf and provide the research necessary to help us find other applications for our batteries. Budget $100,001 – $250,000 for now

What’s The Old Expression; One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure? We Don’t Say Junk Anymore; Now It’s Recycle!

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

Here’s a company that provides original equipment parts to those in the collision industry – and you wouldn’t recognize how this industry has evolved! If you elect to investigate this opportunity, you’ll get an education in the automotive recycling business. Marketing on this scale is new for them,  so they are looking forward to your illuminating discussions. Location – Midwest Headquarters  Budget:  $100,001 – $250,000 Fees, production and digital media

Have You Had Success Marketing a Financial Consulting Firm? This Multi-Location Group Wants to Talk

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

We’re a long-established international risk management consulting firm. We are not insurance brokers, insurers, or re-insurers. We provide advice to corporations for a fee to help them obtain the most efficient and effective ways of transferring risk via insurance or other contractual means.  After many years without a formal marketing effort, we’re now ready to communicate our unique independent fee-only insurance and risk management services to potential clients who will benefit. To date all of our business has been by referral, and although we have grown every year we believe it is time to take the next step. We wish to formulate our approach so that it can lead to a steady stream of clients in various businesses for which we deep intellectual capital and proven success. Located in NY and FL. Budget $250,001 – $500,000 and TBD

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.

###

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.

Search Statistics

Total Searches:
Searches This Month:
Searches This Year:

Partners:
InfoCommerce