Business Development

Five Simple Truths for Improving Advertising Agency & PR Firm New Business

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

Yesterday Adweek posted an article discussing the most dangerous job at an ad agency and “new business” won! I added my two-cents and exhanges were brisk. I did some research and found I wrote this back in March 2013. In agency new business, the old is always new again …

Folks are creative by nature, but not universally comfortable with prospecting for new business by reaching out to strangers”, explains AgencyFinder’s CEO Chuck Meyst.   

Battling a challenging economy and an ever-changing media landscape, advertising agencies and public relations firms still face an uphill battle for new business in 2013.

But that’s no reason to despair.

Looking back, there have always been two distinct philosophies and approaches to agency and PR firm business development; pro-active outreach (chase) and inbound marketing (be found).

In pro-active outreach, someone at the agency or an outside contractor has to initiate contact with a prospect by mail, e-mail or phone – often called cold calling.  Meyst remarks “With tongue-in-cheek, some suggest that, without permission, this is tantamount to stalking and that’s against the law!”

The opposite approach (i.e. inbound marketing), requires inquiries triggered by social media, speaking engagements, referrals, website traffic and industry “finder” services.

Meyst summarizes: “Agencies use more new business programs than you can count, but the successful ones follow some fundamental rules that make them effective:”

1. Make someone responsible. New business is NOT everybody’s business at the agency. Hire someone or pick someone and make their employment dependent on some form of measurable success. In most cases, that will be meaningful, face-to-face meetings with pre-qualified prospects. But not “landed” business – too many others at the agency can affect that, one way or other.

2. New business is NOT a natural talent.  See to it that your new business pro gets professional sales training from professionals. A webinar here or there does not qualify. Like CLE credits, new business training should continue.

3. Relax your spam filters! Any IT Director can keep e-mails out. The whole idea is to let prospects (including Certified Search Consultants) find you and make their inquiry.

4. Let your website tell your story.  Prospects want to know what you’ve done (show them category experience), services you offer, where located, who and how many work there and who runs the place (pics and bios). Until they “friend you” they won’t care much about your blog. And please – don’t make that your home page!

5. Chase or Be Found. For those who chase, consider the universe. In categories where they advertise, you’ll find more than 11 million companies. But screen for annual sales over $1M and that count drops to 700,000. If these are your prospects, you need to know what kind of clients and type of business you handle best. Know where you can find them and how your approach will resonate.

As important as selection criterion is for any business you’re chasing, it’s even more important for those clients who are actively seeking a new advertising agency or PR firm to define what they seek.

Hoover’s database identifies 48,500 marketing service agencies (SIC 7311 & SIC 8743) in the USA today. Break it down to those firms with 6 or more employees and the count drops to 8,600. At 25 employees, the count drops to 2000!  A surprisingly small and suspect universe.

 

Real Bad News for Agency New Business Pros

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

Today’s Adweek broke a story by Maureen O’Leary that portends bad new for agency new business pros. Various recent industry surveys revealed the half-life of someone working at agency new business is measured in months, not years. The article prompted me to check Who’s Who at Campbell-Ewald in Detroit; just when I was getting to know Barbara Yolles, she’s gone! Many of our contacts there have retired or moved on. Maureen makes the point that “new business” is a risky business. So I countered with my position based on our experience here at AgencyFinder coupled with my new business consulting at Sales Marketing Institute and Sanders Consulting. I said …

Face it, new business is not a job for an agency person. Let’s stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Most agency people are not fit for a new business because they’re creatives by nature and creatives flinch when their work is criticized. Imagine the internalizations when a prospect tells them to “get lost!” At VCU’s Ad Center here in Richmond, Virginia, unless things have changed, there isn’t a single course or a single semester that even introduces the critical topic “How an agency gets new business.” As in, how do we pay our bills and pay our employees. New business doesn’t “fit” an agency-trained individual and never will.

New business is a “sales job” and I’ve yet to visit an agency to see a door or department banner proclaiming “Sales Department; Sales Manager.” They prefer “Manager of Organic Growth!” Matter of fact, most agency folks cringe at the word sales yet the majority of what an agency produces is funneled into and out into the world through a sales rep (media rep) for the media of choice.

Agencies need to hire “sales people” with the assistance of qualified headhunters like Paul Gumbinner. They must bring “process” to the agency (most don’t have one to offer). The agency needs to hire a new business consultant (ask me, I can make some recommendations) to teach proactive outreach. And the agency needs to invest in what they’re told. Like the need for a developed prospect database, a computerized Contact Management software package along with an assortments of flat and dimensional mailers and conversation pieces. Finally they need an incoming opportunity source, lead generator or agency-side search consultant (as in – us) to vector in real time-sensitive opportunities.

Maybe then they will see the results they seek … I’ve volunteered it before – anyone want to join me in building a Sales university?

Thoughts from Chuck Meyst, Chairman & CEO at AgencyFinder

In a reply to a subsequent post by “Lucy” I wrote:

Lucy,

The entirety of agency new business needs more than a forum and I wasn’t suggesting “agency new business” shouldn’t include and embrace other non-sales-types at the agency. Nor do I see the first-line new business person as a “closer” or someone who does it all alone. Once the prospect’s door has been opened, then a pair (new business person + senior account person “well-versed in all there is to know about the agency and how to interview”) visit the prospect for a face-to-face sit-down.

Not enough space here to address all that is covered then, but a suggested next-step is a client visit to the agency. The “agency-tour-as-new-business-tool” was one of my lectures prior to AgencyFinder and is now an integral element in our agency search process. Walk the floor together, interview department heads where they work, let them “show & tell” and let the prospect see things lying around you wouldn’t have thought to show them. Many times those visuals helped close the business.

I could go on, but as many have already said, certainly it’s a team effort and everyone on the team needs to be trained, rehearsed and ready to integrate with the whole. If it was easy, every agency would be doing it!

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Agency New Business Advisor, I have a Question …

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

A real question from a real agency …

Agency – When I pitch, the response I sometimes get is… …we just want a video or brochure. And what I may see is that their customer service model is FUBAR and needs to be fixed before some kind of creative should be done. Like what we do is a band-aid for their bad business practices.  Maybe I should not care, but I do. I see marketing as the total customer experience.

Advisor – In some ways, new business is like dating (remember?) You need to start slowly a little bit at a time. Having proved yourself, you are then welcome to go further … Same situation here. In any proposal, even if just for a video, make certain you note that the video in itself will only work effectively if all else is in order. Don’t accept (better to deny any responsibility for “performance”) if you have identified roadblocks.

At the same time, give them a proposal for what you believe is also needed and be specific. Make it conditional in that you’ll get the next work if they are satisfied with the first assignment (you need to identify the conditions). The agreement/contract part is all business (no creative hokey-pokey!) Make sense?

Agency Responds – (food for thought) Thanks. Very good input. I was an executive at a TV network and did a lot of entertainment industry marketing for networks and record labels when I left. A pitch there may last 3 minutes. They want to know you are competent and you can get fired if you don’t take the initiative to do it all right. You don’t wait around proving yourself; if you see a chink in the armor you take action. You don’t deny responsibility, you take action. I have found that is not the norm in most businesses, unless you are in a place like LA or NYC.

Most people choose pain over getting well. Statistics tell us people want to stay sick, believe it or not. If I have to change or die, most people choose death. – Same goes in business.

My business coach says, just hunt for those people that are authentically seeking real change or improvement at the level you/we provide; as appropriate for their situation. In other words, pre-qualify them to make sure they are ready for the change.

The flip side is that (in my eyes) the people I see making money at advertising take the work that comes in the door and if the client is screwed up, ignore it. Just take their money. A sucker is born every minute and when that company takes a dive, there is another sucker behind them to bill. Just keep doing really pretty creative and billing. – Silly me, I was on the other side of the table wanting something tangible for my money. I want to give them stellar results.  It is one of the reasons, we mostly pay for results based marketing.

Maybe I am wrong.

 

 

 

What’s Getting you New Business This Summer?

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

When summer rolls around, most agencies used to resort to half-days on Friday and straggle in late on Mondays. That was true in them good olde days. But in this economy, with agencies running at full capacity with overworked staff, that custom isn’t as prevalent today.

But how about your agency? Are you running a lean week? Are you looking for prospects on the beach, at the river, at the cottage, at the lake? Or sitting near you at a Charlotte NASCAR event? Or are you (or someone assigned) plugging away on the phone, sending e-mails or mailing tchotchkes or rubber chickens with a clever letter?

What’s working for you?

In an Emergency (Like a New Client Invitation) how can we best reach you?

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

Let’s talk about media agnostics … We work day and night here in Richmond with a client in Philadelphia, (for example) to help them identify, evaluate and then tell us who to invite as candidates to handle their amazing account. Over the years, we’ve perfected a process that begins with an e-mail alert to each intended agency – to the primary plus alternate new business contacts (as listed in your profile). That alert includes client name, location and URL. Our next step is to send the full RFD (Request for Dialogue) via fax.

Why fax? Because the invitation is a collection of documents originating from different sources and for us, it’s easiest to aggregate them and send via a plain-paper fax machine. Yes, we know some tell us “no one uses fax anymore” yet surprisingly, some in New York who say that have a fax address prominently posted at Contact Us on their own website.

So tell us; what’s the best way and when to contact you? We know you are often out of the office, in meetings or on the phone. We know you carry Smart Phones and check them wherever you are at whatever time you decide. But when new business is on deck, we need to reach you and you need to be reached – if new clients and new business are on your radar!

 

 

Garbage In; Garbage Out – Your profile is your lifeline to new business …

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

July 16th we called your attention to some important changes and additions to our database and your profile. It read:

Important Database Additions: We recently added some new Fields Served, then removed some as well. Same is true for Services Offered. Clients are now selecting from those, so if you haven’t claimed them, you’ll be overlooked. You are urged to check & update your profile. (see below)

Your data must be both current and complete. By example, we added “Cloud service vendors” to Fields Served and OOH (Out of Home) and Shopper marketing to Services Offered. These and others were also added to the client side (where the Client specifies what they want from their new agency). If a client includes any of these in the search criteria and you have the experience or offer the services (but you’ve failed to update your profile) you are automatically and absolutely eliminated as a candidate.

We’ll do our part, but please do yours and update!

 

Are they out of their minds!!! They’ve dropped their prices …

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

That’s what some said. But it’s true and we think it’s just good marketing. In a recent agency newsletter, we wrote: We’ve got some important news to share. We’re instituting our first substantial reductions and changes to our pricing model in years. Based on pre-testing, I think you’ll find what we’ve done quite appealing. Check it out …

Plans & Prices: A simple presentation of four (4) Plan options. Starting with the “Free” Iridium, then moving to Manager, Director and EVP Business. See which one makes sense for your firm.

Getting started on the Iridium Plan: Regardless of size or experience, everyone starts at Iridium. In our original pricing scheme of Gold, Silver and Platinum, Iridium (a white metal) was where everyone began. Iridium is important; for starters it’s Free! And it’s the building block of your profile and how you move up to the next plans.

Special Offer: Enroll at the Manager Plan and receive a Free Audit. Evaluate your chances in real terms. Our search engine takes your agency profile and exposes your data to all registered client searches that occurred in the last 12-months. That process produces a report that’s yours to keep. For every client search where you surface, you’re able to see each client category, budget and their location and its not guessing. Its a powerful tool and only AgencyFinder has it!

Plan ComparisonsEVP Business Plan is your best bet if you’ve got a new business budget. Let’s say you get a client invitation where their budget is $5MM. The Contender Fee plus the $500 Registration puts you at $5,500 for the year. Compare that to your EVP Business investment at $2,995 EVP saves you $2,505.

If however your firm is new, with only a few employees and little set aside for business development, select the Manager Plan – so you can walk before you run. You can get involved with what’s going on, but you only contend when it’s a perfect fit!

Little secret … If you’re invited at Iridium or Manager and want to contend, skip the Contender fees by paying the EVP Business $2,995

 

 

Detroit-area Federal Lawsuit Begs for Professional Publicity – Payment Offered or Pro-Bono

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

We just posted this in our PitchCast section, but for those of you looking for what might be a “Hot-Potato” assignment, we thought it deserved this special attention. Is this for you?

Retired land developer and builder wants to hire a public relations firm or individual that has contacts with local Detroit, Michigan Metropolitan Area media outlets such as television, newspapers, etc.

I want to have a professional person that can help me in a major Federal lawsuit get information published concerning corrupt city personnel in a small suburban city north of Detroit, MI that have confiscated the home of a WWII veteran who fought in the Pacific Theatre and yet the government, through corruption and retaliation has taken over this person’s property and given it to one of the richest golf clubs in the country to use as a retension pond for all of its storm water.

For contact information, write chuck@agencyfinder.com or call 804-346-1812 Please do so now …

Can you use ONE WORD to describe the biggest challenge facing Marketing today?

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

I suspect you’ve seen this posting on LinkedIn; it’s been up now for more than a month. In the beginning it was fun as well as interesting to see what industry leaders had to say. But then it started getting old …

The respondents made it obvious why marketers were having problems. If our industry’s “finest” couldn’t even READ (as in – it says can you use ONE WORD (not two or a sentence you fools!), then what hope is there to reach the general public … And the postings go on and on; when will the pain ever end? Moderator – please hit the Kill Switch!  This suggests all our messages (even in the B2B environment) need to be directed to the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR.

Any comments?

The Disappearing “Agency of Record” & Why …

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

This arrived today by e-mail from my friend Tim Williams who leads Ignition Consulting Group, an oft invited and well-respected presenter of “agency truths.”  I promptly called Tim to talk about the fact that he and I have come to the same conclusion about the same time.  His story is here; ours will unfold in the next two months.  Stay tuned …

Tim Williams writes:

Are you “Agency of Record” for most of your clients?  Some of your clients?  Any of your clients?  You might have answered this question differently a few years ago, but today the vast majority of agencies today provide just a few types of service for their clients.  They may have a “full service” offering but they don’t have the “full service” clients to match.
 
To prove this, prepare a simple spreadsheet with your main service offerings listed across the top. Now list your major clients down the left-hand side of the sheet.  For each client, indicate which of your services they use.  If you’re like most agencies, you’ll quickly see that not a single client retains you for true full service.  Instead, they hire you for a select group of capabilities, and work with other agencies for other services.

Time to match our business model with reality

This current state of affairs presents a real problem that most agencies aren’t willing to address; that they are structured and staffed for a business model (full-service agency of record) that began disappearing several decades ago. The only marketers looking for an AOR are small companies who have neither the budget nor the sophistication to assign and allocate marketing duties to multiple agencies. 
 
Among the larger marketers – the brands that most agencies covet – the predominant approach for working with agencies is the “Best of Breed Model” with the marketer acting integrator, surrounded by a federation of agencies who specialize in various components of the marketing mix: advertising creative, media, digital, social, experiential, CRM, etc.
 
So when your website and new business materials describe your agency as a “full-service, integrated marketing communications firm with a wide variety of services” you’re actually trying to sell something that the best and brightest target prospects aren’t really buying.  Again, this comes down to the type of client you want.  If you desire to work for your local bank, hospital, or car dealership, these types of organizations might in fact want “full service.”  But if you aspire to work with national brands, a full-service strategy won’t get you there.

Wanted: best in class

Time and again, the stellar marketers in North America indicate that their top criterion when selecting an agency partner is “the desire to focus on best-in-class specialists.”  They don’t expect any agency to be excellent in everything, and they find it curious if not a infuriating that agencies are not willing to name what they stand for.  Agency websites use such nebulous language that prospective clients are genuinely confused about what they agency actually does.  Or more importantly, what they don’t do. 
 
“Wide range of expertise” is a mutually-exclusive term that deserves to join the ranks of “airline food” or “military intelligence.”  By definition, you can’t have expertise in a wide variety of areas.  And while you’re busy selling “wide,” what clients want to hire is “deep.”  Isn’t time to start selling what your clients and prospects are really buying?

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