That’s right, and stealing leads from right from under your nose. Some suggest with your permission.
And who’s doing that? It’s the fine IT folks at your place and everywhere. In their blind enthusiasm to keep your agency or company safe from spam and phishing, they built an almost impenetrable wall (there’s that word) around your organization and it works there! That’s fine for most. But for those engaged in new business, business development or lead capture, they’re stealing your leads and sending them to trash.
Working as the agency search consult we are, for years we sent agency invitations starting with an email alert, then a full invite via fax and finally a follow-up phone call or message. Still ringing in our ears are agencies declaring – “Nobody uses faxes anymore; please use email.” We started doing so this year, and it’s been a disaster. Agency silence in ignorance is deafening. Follow-up calls go to voicemail – often ignored. After repeated back & fourths, the invite with attachment is found – deep within trash folders. One of our buried emails just surfaced at an agency with subject line modified to read ‘Possible Junk – Business Opportunity w/Quick Decision Required.” Thanks IT for keeping us safe and costing us all the business we seek!
Is there a lesson to be learned? Absolutely! Every day at the end of the day, be sure to look and work your way through your Junk folder. Make it a habit to scroll through all that’s there. If you don’t already, you’ll soon get in the habit of spotting good news from bad. While you’re there, move anything worth further examination to your Inbox. It will post back in date sequence, so when you open for tomorrow, go back at least a day to find those you moved up.
The message here? Don’t lose valuable leads just because your IT folks have built a wall that works!
Guest Author, Drew McLellan of Agency Management Institute
Each spring, I walk my live network members through the trends that I have been tracking and believe are going to impact the coming year. One of the trends I am going to be talking about this go around is a pretty ugly one. Clients seem to have much shorter fuses when it comes to agencies these days.
Clients are literally picking up the phone (or worse, sending a break-up email) and pulling the plug on the unsuspecting agency with no forewarning, discussions about dissatisfaction, or severance time frame. It’s a “hi, effective immediately or if they really generous — to the end of the month), we’re moving on. Thanks for your service.”
I am seeing it happen to big agencies from big brands (both B2C and B2B) and I am seeing it happen to smaller agencies with local or regional brands. I don’t get a sense that there’s any geographical aspect to this either.
There have always been horrific break-up stories but in the past, when an agency and client went their separate ways, there were some conversations, some expression of discontent and some time period to re-earn the trust of the client.
That seems to be less common these days. So what do we do about this unpleasant trend?
Are you (the owner) investing in building a relationship with your client’s CEO/owner/leader?
When was the last time you invested in a client satisfaction survey and reacted to the results?
Are your AEs helping your clients achieve business goals and tackle business problems every single day? (Do they understand strategy enough to do that?)
Are you holding regular (quarterly for large clients, annually for smaller ones) celebrations/planning events with your entire client and agency team?
We can’t just sit back and let this trend kick us in the teeth. We need to be proactive now so we can dodge the impact of this new wave of bad manners and bad break up etiquette.
What else are you doing to make sure you aren’t on the receiving end of this trend?
But the agency president and copywriter does believe in work-life balance.
Connelly Partners’ President and Copywriter Steve Connelly believes that working from home kills agency culture. However, he also tells employees, “If you don’t have a life outside of the office, you are useless to me.”
These are two of Connelly’s “strands of DNA,” which he tells Campaign US is a “blend of pragmatism and some basic human tribal beliefs I have that help us yield good work.”
He explained that no one can be creative 24 or 12 hours a day and he doesn’t expect staffers to work very long hours, but he does want them to be focused when they’re in the office.
“I have kids in their 20s and I certainly hear a lot about liberal work from home policies and I think that’s fine if you’re into productivity and staying connected, but if your focus and priority is culture, which mine is, then you have to be in the office, you have to talk to people and feel the energy around you,” he said.
But this doesn’t mean the agency doesn’t believe in work-life balance. Connelly said that if a staffer needs to work from home because he or she needs a mental health day or has a sick child, he’s totally fine with that. Plus, the shop offers unlimited vacation days.
“What you need to do to take time to refresh and stay charged and bring new experiences into the office you should do, but I’m not saying that I’ll pay for three days and then have you work from home on the fourth and fifth day. That’s not culturally beneficial,” he said.
Mothers who want or need to work from home are on a case-by-case basis. Connelly said he wants to make sure he stays connected with working moms and gets them back in the workplace, but he says if you’re in a leadership position, “You can’t lead by phone – you need to lead by example.”
He said he’d rather have a working mother tap into a truncated schedule in which she comes in earlier and leaves earlier than have her work from home.
Connelly also strongly believes in having a life outside of the office. “The more successful you become in this business, the more you’re taken away from what made you successful – the everyday things and people,” he said.
He added:” If you’re job is to tell so a wide range of people, you better be able to observe a wide range of lives. Go learn, live and find, and sometimes you suck up experiences without even knowing it.”
The agency’s culture is “familial” and “imperfect like most families, but with a lot of honest inside,” according to Connelly. The shop was built around a living room, kitchen table and bar because those rooms are often where the best conversations take place. “It’s a very educated treehouse,” said Connelly.
For agencies looking to figure out or build their own cultures, Connelly has some advice: “Please understand that culture is organic If you’re going to commit to culture, understand that you are the dirt, not the seed or plant, and your job is to provide the best growing environment.”
Note: Steve Connelly and his agency are proudly “one of ours!”
Employees don’t like them. Research proves they’re ineffective. Why is it taking so long for us to get rid of them?
First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.
That is the myth of the open office, a workplace layout so pervasive that its presence is taken for granted, and its promises–of collaboration and innovation–are sacrosanct. According to a 2010 study by the International Facility Management Association, 68% of people worked in an office with either no walls or low walls–and the number has undoubtedly grown.
There’s just one problem. Employees hate open offices. They’re distracting. They’re loud. There’s often little privacy. “The sensory overload that comes with open-office plans gets to a point where I can barely function,” says one 47-year-old graphic designer who has spent more than two decades working in open environments. “I even had to quit a job once because of it.”
For as long as these floor plans have been in vogue, studies have debunked their benefits. Researchers have shown that people in open offices take nearly two-thirds more sick leave and report greater unhappiness, more stress, and less productivity than those with more privacy. A 2018 study by Harvard Business School found that open offices reduce face-to-face interaction by about 70% and increase email and messaging by roughly 50%, shattering the notion that they make workers collaborative. (They’re even subtly sexist.) And yet, the open plan persists–too symbolically powerful (and cheap) for many companies to abandon.
As with so many things today, we have Google, at least in part, to thank. Open floors have existed since the secretarial pools of the 1940s, but when the then seven-year-old Google renovated its headquarters in Mountain View, California, in 2005, the lofty, light-filled result was more than a showcase for the company’s growing wealth and influence; it signaled the dawn of a new professional era. Architect Clive Wilkinson eschewed the cubicle-heavy interiors of the company’s previous office for something that resembled a neighborhood: There were still some private spaces, but also lots of communal workplaces and small, glassed-in meeting rooms. “The attitude was: We’re inventing a new world, why do we need the old world?” Wilkinson says. With Google’s rise, his vision for a collaborative workplace took off. “We had [companies] come to us and say, ‘We want to be like Google.’ They were less sure about their own identity, but they were sure they wanted to be like Google.”
Around the same time, a more radical version of the open office was emerging from other startups founded during the dotcom boom of the late ’90s. As these companies proliferated, they looked for cheap ways to differentiate themselves from each other and their predecessors. They found inspiration, Wilkinson says, in the more playful offices that had long been common in the advertising industry. Some moved into the unfinished lofts of San Francisco’s South of Market district–and left them that way. Walls only make things complicated when you’re rapidly adding (and eliminating) staff. “Those places were terrible,” says Joel Spolsky, who cofounded Fog Creek Software in 2000 and is currently the cofounder and CEO of Stack Overflow. “They were so loud, because there were no drop ceilings. It was painful for everybody. But [dotcom startups] were doing it because they had literally no choice.” Out of necessity, an aesthetic was born.
By the time Facebook opened its Frank Gehry–designed Menlo Park headquarters in 2015, the open office had become not just the face of innovation in Silicon Valley but a powerful metaphor. Facebook now houses roughly 2,800 employees in a 10-acre building that the company claims is the largest open floor plan in the world. “The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together,” founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote when he announced the design in 2012. Famously, he has a plain white desk in the communal area, just like everyone else. (He also has a private “conference” room, where he is rumored to spend much of his time.)
The whiff of disruption that open offices carried became irresistible to startups and established companies alike. “When you talk to leaders in corporate real estate or CEOs about why they designed their space [in an open plan], most will give some fluffy answer,” says Ben Waber, cofounder and CEO of workplace analytics company Humanyze, which uses sensors to track how people use offices and interact with each other. “But when you dig down, it’s because this is what the workplaces look like at a couple of highly successful tech companies.” Calvin Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University who studies how people work, takes an even more skeptical view: Open offices have become a way to indicate a company’s value to venture capitalists and talent. The goal is “not to improve productivity and collaboration, but to signal that the company [is] doing something interesting.”
According to Humanyze, open plans are great at encouraging interaction between teams, which is useful when a company is trying to create new products. But they are terrible at encouraging interaction within teams, which is necessary for execution-based work, like writing code, when employees need to be in sync. An open office might be suitable for a company coming up with new ideas, but when someone has to implement them, it becomes distracting.
Of course, one of the main reasons that business leaders default to open plans is simply that they’re inexpensive. According to commercial real estate association CoreNet Global, the average space allotted to individual employees globally fell from 225 square feet in 2010 to 176 square feet in 2013, and is projected to keep decreasing. This adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars–or more–in savings per year at the country’s largest companies, according to calculationsfrom Erik Rood, an analyst in Google’s human resources department who examines corporate financials on his personal blog, Data Interview Qs.
Perhaps no company has exploited these efficiencies more than WeWork, which popularized communal tables and lounge areas in its coworking hubs and now builds out offices for other companies. WeWork distinguishes itself by using its data to compress people into smaller areas–it recently took Expedia’s Chicago office from three floors to two–without, it says, sacrificing employee satisfaction. Liz Burow, WeWork’s director of workplace strategy, says that this entails bringing people closer so they interact more, while also creating a variety of seating arrangements and, yes, even some private areas. “People have different needs throughout their day and their life,” she says. “They might need to focus at a certain point and talk to someone at another point.”
Many architects share this vision. Janet Pogue McLaurin, a principal at the architecture firm Gensler, which has designed dozens of prominent corporate offices, says that the most effective open plans include a host of meeting rooms and private areas for deep concentration. “Innovative companies actually use more spaces throughout the office,” she says. They don’t expect the desk to be the center of an employee’s work life.
It’s an enticing idea. But, as WeWork has found, the most expensive part of an office is the small meeting room. As a workaround, WeWork offers its enterprise clients phone booths–basically, portable pods that can be dropped right into an existing layout.
At 15 square feet, they’re rather tight for a private office. But at least there’s a door.
A Great Read by Katharine Schwab, an associate editor at Fast Company
Move over ‘disruptive,’ ‘innovative,’ and ‘smart content.’ For the more culturally savvy, even the word ‘bespoke’ can shuffle to the sidelines for the moment. Right at this very moment, the landscape isn’t just shifting, it’s in a bit of a freefall . . .
The US government is currently shutdown with no apparent end in sight. Markets have suffered the worst December since 1931 (that’s The Great Depression, a pretty bleak moment in economic history). And a lightning speed, relentless news cycle seems to lie in wait for major (and minor) brand fails.
For brands and marketers to simply ‘pivot’ just won’t cut it. In 2019, ‘nimble’ is the new black.
To use Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word, ‘nimble’ is defined by “quick and light in motion, agile” and “marked by quick, alert, clever conception” and “responsive, sensitive.”
So, to be clear, we’re not just talking about being cheaper and faster with a consideration of spend. We’re talking about adapting a new process to meet the challenges of a new year.
Here are four ways that brand marketers and agencies alike can be nimble and thrive in 2019:
1. Be intelligently fast
With attention spans and news cycles being what they are (re: incredibly short), knee jerk reactions that sacrifice smart thinking for speed can get brands and their agencies in trouble. Fully consider potential outcomes, both positive and negative, before going to market. Establish checks and balances that must be met, and give your team or agency enough time to do it right.
2. Tighten up your team
The old model for brands and agencies saw layers upon layers of team members collaborating on a single project. And while I’m all for being a team player, keep your team tight. A smaller team is more streamlined, which means less room for miscommunication, mistakes and mayhem. It also helps with being intelligently fast, too!
3. Read. Watch. Listen. Repeat.
Here’s where the “responsive” and “sensitive” definition of ‘nimble’ comes in. Depending on who your brand or campaign speaks to – are you reading what they read? Watching what they watch? Listening to the music/podcasts/audiobooks they are? If not, someone on your (tight) team can be charged with being the eyes and ears on the ground. Getting into the mind of your consumer has always been standard practice, but in a landscape that is increasingly multicultural across race, religion, sexuality and how people identify – it’s never been more important. And once you’ve read, watched, and listened? Do it again.
4. Admit defeat, but don’t stay defeated
In all of this nimbleness and moving quickly, mistakes will be made. When that happens (and it will, trust me), own up to them in an authentic way. The brands that listen to their consumers when they’ve messed up, honestly admit their mistakes and learn from them are the ones consumers respect. Which leads me to . .
Everyone remembers that iconic scene from ‘The Matrix’ when Neo finally becomes the man and hero he was destined to be. He simply took what he already knew and improved upon it. He didn’t try the same thing over and over hoping for different outcomes. I’m challenging brands and agencies to do the same. Take what you know, all the Big Data and research and A/B testing and focus groups and previous wins and fails and evolve. (And if Keanu Reeves dodging Agent Smith’s bullets in a black trench and a crazy backbend isn’t the definition of nimble, I don’t know what is.)
Nick Platt is the CEO and chief creative officer of LO:LA (London: Los Angeles).
If you’re like most agencies, you are still primarily using the billable hour payment. This model relegates you to a manual laborer rather than a solution-driven partner. It also puts you and your clients at odds, rather than forging a better alliance. The good news is there’s another way.
Why do agencies use the billable hour?
The main reason agencies still rely on the billable hour model is because this is how it has always been done. Change rarely comes naturally, whether we’re talking about individuals or large corporations. People find it easier to keep doing things the same way instead of learning a new system. And truth be told, billing by the hour is definitely an easier process because most agencies are set up to track employees’ time.
But this method no longer works. It’s outdated. Back in the days of heavy media buying, when the lion’s share of billing was based on commissions, this method was great. But today’s market is drastically different, and it has different needs.
What’s wrong with billing by the hour?
This model is to the disadvantage of both the agency and the client for a number of reasons:
It puts you at odds with your clients. They want to spend less, and you want to earn more. You don’t get the opportunity to work together to discuss the value of your work, so one or both parties are usually dissatisfied with the payment.
Similarly, it creates risk for clients since they don’t know how many hours of work you will need to do to complete the job. They’re forced to accept whatever bill you give them, which can make them suspicious and wary of you.
It implies that agencies make “stuff,” rather than create ideas or business solutions.
It penalizes agencies for technology and other advances that make agencies more efficient.
It prevents you from setting the price in advance, which keeps everyone in the dark until the final bill arrives.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it makes you like every other agency in town. If you update to a better model, it communicates that you are pushing ahead of the competition and are not trapped in old methods. This kind of change can make you a leader in your field.
Solution: The value-pricing model
In the value-pricing model, the client and the agency discuss the business outcomes that will be delivered as a result of the work. They set measurable, smart goals and determine the value of achieving those outcomes.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a client in the banking industry would like to get 200 new checking accounts from advertising efforts. The bank’s marketing manager determines that the lifetime value of a checking account customer is $500, so achieving the goal is worth $100,000 in new revenue. She also determines that the bank has a 50 percent close rate on selling a new checking account. So the campaign needs to drive 400 prospects into the bank in order to open 200 new accounts.
The agency can’t be held responsible for the actual sales because there are too many variables outside of its control. But it can present a program that will drive 400 prospects through the door. The agency can now present different options for driving inquiries about checking accounts. The agency knows that the proposals need to be priced in a way that creates a profit for the client. It’s then the agency’s job to deliver the specifics of the proposal within budget.
The client couldn’t care less how many hours the job takes. What the client cares about is results. As long as the agency creates more value than the price it charges, everyone wins.
This process is a much more balanced way to charge the client and to compensate the agency. The client pays for value, not stuff, and the agency is paid based on the success of its efforts, not how much time it took to accomplish the goal.
Value pricing makes it easier for your agency to build strong relationships with your clients because you’re both pulling for the same outcome. In this new model, the clients are in control of the price-to-value ratio, and they are happy that you are making a profit because they are paying for results. You can argue over hours billed, but it’s hard to argue with results.
If you’re still using the billable hour, it’s time to revamp your pricing model. You can stand out in the crowd, create agency-client relationships built on trust and common goals, and benefit from high efficiency. I don’t know of a single agency that doesn’t want those improvements.
AgencyFinder suggests – you won’t be the first, but how about it?
The level of mutual trust between agencies and their clients is at an all-time low. There are many culprits, some historical and perennial, some temporary and episodic. The current debate over media “transparency” is a manifestation of the erosion of trust in agency-client relationships. But it is also symptomatic of the underlying cause of this mistrust.
Clients surmise that agencies are making money on media transactions that are not being fully disclosed. In many regions of the world, agencies earn not only a commission from the media, but also an AVB (agency volume bonus) — effectively a rebate from media properties based on total spend. In areas like Latin America, this is completely understood by clients and fully disclosed by the agencies. In fact, many agencies in these regions are heavily dependent on these volume rebates to make their numbers.
In the realm of digital media, the digital media distribution chain extracts up to 60% of every media dollar spent. Clients are understandably concerned that less than half of their digital media budget actually results in consumer exposure (and even then, just a few seconds’ view of a banner ad often qualifies as “exposure”). The digital media chain can indeed seem bloated and wasteful, and large marketers like P&G and Unilever have called for greater efficiencies and fewer handoffs in this chain.
An important part of this string is the audience data owned by third-party aggregators, the media themselves, or even agencies. Many of the large agency networks are able to add considerable value in the digital buying process by applying algorithms, appending data, and employing machine learning to enhance the effectiveness of audience targeting and delivery. In some cases, these technologies are viewed as “black boxes” by clients, and some marketers are concerned they don’t have full visibility into the process and costs involved.
The wrong end of the telescope
Underlying all of these issues is what I believe is the real problem: agencies have taught their clients they can have a full, complete, detailed view into every aspect of the agency’s business, right down to salaries, overhead costs, and margin. This, in effect, puts the client in charge of the agency’s finances. Procurement professionals now dictate which agency individuals are assigned to which projects and how many hours they can spend. They impose “industry benchmarks” on virtually all aspects of agency overhead costs, right down to rent and health insurance. In some cases, they decide the individual year-end bonuses of agency team members. That, by any reasonable standard, is insane.
Since when is it the buyer’s job to manage the margins of the seller? Why should it be the prerogative of a client buyer to dictate to a professional service firm how much profit they’re allowed to make? More to the point, how did this happen? It happened when agencies made the misguided decision to adopt a pricing methodology that dates from the industrial age: cost plus. The cost plus approach spawned a series of unintended but nonetheless pernicious consequences, ultimately producing today’s undesirable state of affairs.
By definition, the cost plus method requires that all seller costs be disclosed, and buyers therefore feel they must be vigilant in tracking and verifying these costs. What if the agency is submitting inaccurate timesheets? What if they’re charging for time that was never spent? What if they’re overstaffing the business? What if they’re earning money in ways we can’t see?
In the world of multinational agencies, what should be purely internal agency management decisions are now monitored and governed by client buyers. Hence mandated audits of agency time and materials. Hence third-party cost consultants. Hence lack of agency-client trust.
To illustrate the futility of buying buckets of time, my friend Bruno Gralpois of Agency Mania Solutions provides the analogy of enjoying a fine meal at a restaurant. As you take your place at the table, instead of ordering items from a menu with published prices, you instead ask the restaurant how many cooks will be needed, how much each of them will be paid, and how many hours it will take them to prepare your meal. Ridiculous? Yes. And it’s also a ridiculous way to buy professional services.
A simple remedy
The prevailing cost plus approach appears to be a circular conundrum, but the remedy is actually simple: agencies must stop selling their costs.
Imagine the immediate change it would make in agency-client relationships if clients bought effectiveness instead of efficiency. Marketers would cease to care how many people are assigned to their business if the agency compensation was based on the quality of the outputs instead of the quantity of the inputs. In this scenario, both parties would care about the same thing: deliverables and results, not time and materials.
In retrospect, the original commission system was far superior to cost plus. The only way for agencies to earn more money was to create effective work and make effective media placements, because that’s what spurred increases in client spending. Success breeds success. Clients in the days of Mad Men could have cared less how many people were in a meeting, because they knew the agency had the right incentive to include only the people who were essential to producing effective work and growing the brand.
If there’s one overarching principle of economics, it’s that incentives matter. As economist Stephen Landsburg observes, “Most of economics can be summarized in four words: ‘People respond to incentives.’ The rest is commentary.”
Last week I talked to a young, aggressive agency owner who wanted to grow fast and thought the best way was to create a conceptual campaign to take around to marketers in hopes of selling it to someone. The owner didn’t want to spend time away from current clients to work on cultivating new relationships and new business. She believed that a hired gun could go selling for her. The owner was only interested in clients who could sign in 30 – 90 days and did not want to bother with long-term relationship building. Who wouldn’t?
In the same week, I spoke with a seasoned agency owner with years of experience working at and owning agencies. He talked about how bad things had gotten for his agency with no pipeline, no leads, and more clients fading away. He devised a ready-made offering to generate sales in the shortest amount of time guaranteed. He was looking for someone who could hit the road and sell his package to brands desperate to end the year with a bump. Who wouldn’t want that?
Both of these examples have the same thing in common. Neither wants to do business development, the hard work necessary to compete and win and grow and stay in the ad business. Each believes they can do something different, create something out of thin air, come up with an idea no one else has had before that will be appealing and successful for everyone. And, their idea is so good it only needs a salesperson to take it to hungry marketers. The young owner felt she could sign 3 – 4 new clients per month while the experienced owner would be happy to find just one. I politely declined both.
It’s not that I don’t like helping agencies be successful. There is no greater feeling than to win new business and new clients for agency owners. Regardless of one’s level of enthusiasm or commitment, there are some fundamental truths to selling any product, service, or relationship, and their ideas were not. It’s not that I don’t believe in innovation. Innovation is the lifeblood of every industry. These weren’t innovative ideas but rather as old as snake oil. While there may be marketers who still fall for it, not me.
These two examples are not unique by any means. They are emblematic of an all too common dilemma among agencies. It’s the ‘I don’t need to do business development’ syndrome. Whether they think their work will bring new clients, or their notoriety will keep the phone ringing, or their network will keep them busy, when the leads dry up, and clients go elsewhere, the reality comes and panic sets in. It may be one or many years before the crisis, but every business that doesn’t have sales and marketing as an integral part of their operation is doomed to failure. The puzzling thing is why so many agencies think they are different.
There are a few agencies who have had pretty good runs without any formal business development. A very few. Unfortunately, other agencies see that as proof for them. They have no idea what the underlying factors are for the success, or they believe they also embody those same factors. Whatever the case, the chances of succeeding are almost zero whereas the possibility for success through business development is, on average 25%. While it is true that the cost and time necessary for a healthy new business effort is much more than doing nothing, doing nothing will eventually result in nothing.
Neither of these two examples had any business development efforts ongoing. The former had leveraged industry relationships to grow her new agency, and those had all dried up. The later had stopped all business development when the agency got overwhelmed with low paying client needs. Both had come to the desperate reality that they had to do something, or they couldn’t make payroll, couldn’t pay rent, and wouldn’t dip into savings anymore.
These are cautionary tales for every agency. Don’t neglect your business development responsibilities. Doing so is no different than ignoring your best client. Initially you can avoid any repercussion, but eventually, that client will go elsewhere, probably to an agency that has a business development program running. Also, then there is the absolute heartbreaker when a recently discovered prospect replies if only they knew about you six months ago when they picked a new agency.
The only solution is to have a business development program – that is well-defined, integrated into the operations of the agency, is regularly monitored, delegated across functions, and reviewed every six months. Keep in mind that the waves in the marketplace will buffet your efforts both positively and negatively. Don’t expect consistent results. Be patient. As long as you have a steady drumbeat of common-sense tactics and an ever-refreshed prospect list, you will have both short and long-term opportunities to keep your agency growing. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen over time so get started now.
I want to help you get your business development program started or restarted. Click on Schedule a Call and let’s talk about what has been working well and what has not and how to fix it. If you like this post, click the thumbs up, so I’ll know and then sign up for my new business newsletter. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. #LetsGrow!
Media and marketing consultant ID Comms and the 4As released a study today based on a survey of media agency executives that highlights perceived flaws in the agency pitch process.
It provides suggestions for improving the process — which, the organizations reason, will also improve agency-client relationships.
The study contains both qualitative and quantitative components and quotes a number of media agency CEOs including Wavemaker’s Amanda Richman and Steve Williams of Essence. Respondents represent agencies with combined media billings of more than $55 billion.
A key flaw, the research found, is that clients are often unclear about what the are looking for from their media agency. And they tend to remain vague throughout the pitch process, even when pressed for details.
The study quotes Richman, commenting on the RFI stage of pitches: “Let’s just be more transparent with each other on what the challenges are and what is motivating the pitch so we can put our resources towards the best solution.”
The RFI stage, the study concludes, is an earlier “filtering stage” where clients often require expensive video presentations or details on master service agreements that are better left for a later stage in the process.
Pricing exercises are often perceived as overly complicated and counterproductive. Williams is quoted in the study as saying: “There is a particular lack of consistency, and clarity, around pricing exercises and templates, and how agencies are expected to complete them — so an industry standard would be a constructive move.”
And requests for proposals are often lengthy but full of questions that don’t provide agencies the best opportunity to highlight capabilities and expertise. “Advertisers should focus on the key questions that relate to their particular business challenges,” at the RFP stage, the report advises. “Fewer but more important questions would stop this stage from feeling generic and untailored to the advertiser’s needs.”
Chemistry sessions also frequently suffer from a lack of clarity, per the report. Clients should make a concerted effort at this stage “to ensure that agencies know exactly what is expected of them and be mindful of the resource required where they go beyond the basic ‘meet-and-greet’ session.”
Final presentations are a critical and high-stress part of the pitch process with the highest level of agency resource investment and senior management engagement, per the study. And respondents noted that clients often impose unreasonably tight deadlines at this point in the process. “In general, the one thing that would help make pitches better is more time to do good work,” Williams responded in the qualitative portion of the study.
“Pitches are a big drain on the resources of a media agency, which is often managing multiple reviews simultaneously,” said Tom Denford, North American CEO, ID Comms. “While agencies have gotten better in recent years at prioritizing the pitches they compete for and being more focused with their resources, more discipline on the advertiser side would enable agencies to be more strategic and do better work. A clearer pitch process enables all participating agencies to present their best talent, resources and ideas to the advertiser. This in turn creates more business value for the advertiser.”
Matt Kasindorf, senior vice president management services, 4A’s, added: “Advertisers need to think deeply about how they run their pitches as they look to get the very best out of the agency community…agencies need clarity on the advertiser’s goals and objectives if they are to identify the more appropriate solutions.”
Bill Crandall, Founding Partner & Chief Marketing Officer, Steadman Crandall Business Development LLC
With over 35 years of brand marketing, agency, and new business development experience, Bill founded SCBD in 2014 as a new alternative resource for relatively smaller agencies and companies looking to grow and level the playing field against their larger, better financed competitors.
One thing, among many, that separates SCBD and Bill from most of other new business development consulting competitors is a rare combination of both client and agency experience.
In the course of Bill’s highly diversified marketing and agency account management career, he has worked for agencies such as Ted Bates Worldwide, IPG’s SSC&B:Lintas and Campbell-Ewald Worldwide, Scali McCabe Sloves, Earle Palmer Brown, and Della Femina. Client brands have included Bubblicious and Trident gums, Bayer Aspirin, Friskies and Purina pet foods, Mennen personal care, Nabisco, Perdue Farms, Castrol motor oil, JVC consumer electronics, Sheraton and Marriott hotels, Jordache and Bill Blass fashion, apparel & accessories, U.S. Navy Recruiting, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), et al.
Since moving 100% into the new business development space about 15 years ago, Bill has brought his agency employers and new business consulting clients into some very big client rooms: MasterCard, Estee Lauder, AOL, Time-Warner, SONY Music, BMG Entertainment, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Dole Foods, Kellogg, General Mills, Colgate-Palmolive, Pillsbury, Sara Lee, ConAgra, Clorox, Frito-Lay, Heinz, Quaker Oats, Café Metro and Fresh&Co fast-casual restaurants, and most recently, Steve Madden footwear & accessories. The list goes on.
Bill received his BBA in Marketing, on academic scholarship and with honors, from Hofstra University and completed his MBA degree program at Hofstra’s Zarb School of Business. Post-graduate Executive Program studies in global branding and finance were completed at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Bill was elected to the Hofstra University Zarb School of Business Advisory Board, Marketing & International Business, in 2014.
Inquire and contact at: www.steadmancrandallnyc.com