Blog Posts

Finding London PR Needle-in-a-Haystack from San Francisco & Richmond, VA

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts

We’re always a bit more than ordinarily motivated when we can manage an International search. The good folks at Baidu came to us in late May this year looking for help – not in the US but in the UK. Baidu is China’s 1 search engine, answering more than 5 billion queries each day. Baidu’s international products are already in use by more than 120 million people outside of China, but brand recognition is relatively low. They came to AgencyFinder looking for a PR firm in London that could help to both establish their brand and drive downloads of their free products. Speaking of International, Baidu’s Director of International Marketing is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California on their Silicon Valley campus. Read about their plans here.

Baidu has developed a number of mobile (Android) and desktop (PC) applications available to the wide world. These consist predominantly of utility applications that have broad audiences. Currently, these products include: DU Battery Saver (Android) DU Speed Booster (Android) Baidu Browser (Android) Baidu PC Faster (PC) Baidu Antivirus (PC) Baidu Spark Browser (PC)

AgencyFinder had established “boots on the ground” in England beginning in 2008 using an in-place agent to represent our services. They aggressively enrolled some of England’s finest advertising and public relations firms for whom we’ve been able to secure new clients.

We started the Baidu search from Richmond, Virginia with 15 candidates but quickly narrowed that to 7. Because of distance and time zones, Baidu conducted initial telephone interviews and examined agency decks. They identified their semi-finalists and planned site visits – to tour agency offices and meet the staff. They identified four – eclat Marketing, Lightwater; Waggener Edstrom Communications, London, Sagon-Phior/Turnkey, Los Angeles/London; and Touchdown, London. Site visits began on a Wednesday and concluded Thursday. While still in London, the client made their decision and announced that same Friday. In a most efficient manner, the business was awarded to a lucky and pleased Waggener Edstrom.

The New NRA TV Spots – Impactful!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts

My wife and I sat quietly as the first of these new spots unfolded on our large-screen HDTV. First the talent against a black background; talking quietly at first in a way that drew us in. What was the subject? What was this about? Then great live images of diverse scenes and finally, the fact that this talent was speaking about and for the 5 Million members of the National Rifle Association. Very impressive.

We’ve seen a few spots so far; not sure how many have been produced. I looked into our database to find the agency of record but wasn’t successful. Anyone know who is doing these? Agree or disagree?

SEPTEMBER 11, 2014 ANNIVERSARY

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts

As I did on September 11, 2001, this morning I sat on our living room couch in Richmond, Virginia and watched the news. What I saw today was a replay of inappropriately labeled “highlights” from the attack on the Twin Towers in New York back then. My emotions of that day returned; I was sickened seeing those that chose jumping to fire. I teared for people running from death. I struggled to understand – who, why, for what?

Back in 2001 I was scheduled to fly to Cleveland for an industry conference. As the tragedy began to unfold on the screen before me, under the circumstances I thought of the foolishness to travel by air today. But I had committed to the trip. Staying seated for as long as I could without jeopardizing my travel plans, I finally rose and kissed my wife goodbye.

I’d been carrying around an unsigned and unwitnessed “last will and testament” in my car and decided now was the time and occasion to do something about it. On the way to the airport, I pulled off to get to one of our bank branches. Quickly in, sign and witness and I was on my way. On the Interstate and heading to the airport, the radio news was interrupted by the announcement that the Government had mandated ALL aircraft to land and none were to take flight. Thank God, my problem was solved …

And it seems today, September 11, 2014 passed without incident.

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!

 

 

 

Whassup! You claim experience in health food, yet you don’t respond to your invitation.

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

The AgencyFinder database is deeper and wider than any other in the industry.  More than 500 data fields get your agency found. After you’re vetted by us and the client, you get your invitation. In some instances, we even make trial outreaches by sending an e-mail to ask if the opportunity (we define it) is a good fit for your firm. To save time for everyone, we suggest that no answer means no. But as a courtesy we’d like to hear.

Why? After years of doing this, we know that’s because you said to yourself – “we don’t have that experience!” But you see, you’ve claimed it.  As in, Garbage in; Garbage out. If you claim it (experience, services, markets, etc.) you’ll have to prove it to the client.  If you need to update because your claims are no longer valid, you’re doing all of us (you, us & the client) a disservice. Make a point to keep your profile accurate and current! Fair?

We recently added and removed some “fields served” (vertical market experiences) and “services.”  Check and update your profile now …

 

A “killer” closing line for agency new business telephone outreach …

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts

Pro-active and professional agency new business telephone outreach is the proper combination of “art” and “science.” As to its purpose, telephone outreach is to initially contact a qualified prospect with the eventual expectation of getting a face-to-face meeting. Well, that’s not going to happen (generally) on your first contact. But if you are patient and methodical, if you have engaged in meaningful and helpful conversation that has demonstrated your firm’s sincerity, resourcefulness, interest and ability to contribute, you’ll be on good ground to execute the “killer” closing line …

Assuming you have had 3 or more good conversations and have peaked the prospect’s interest by sending relevant material and suggestions, having shown that your firm may well have the ability to improve their marketing position, you say … “prospect, we’ve had some good conversations and covered lots of ground, but now I’m wondering … (pause) does it make sense to get together and meet? (silence – say nothing until the prospect answers) Best answer – I suppose so (you help identify when, where and how) Alternate answer – Well, I’m not sure (again, help suggest why and when) Least desirable answer – I don’t think so (suggest a continuation of conversations and a chance to propose again!)

Use it; It works …

Agency Search – Qualities and questions to consider when searching for a PR agency (I say debatable)

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts

I continnue to see these reoccurring pieces of sage advice to novices, and overall most of the information makes sense. But we contend (as do I emphatically) that no great agency was ever found looking among a sea of losers! And that’s really the challenge. I’ll skip forward quickly, but this article started as such …

How to start the search process (I’m not lising them all)

• Create a list of three to six agencies that fit your criteria. After you set your goals, establish needs and listen to recommendations, hash out a short list of agencies that fit the criteria.

• Get bids. Prepare an overview of your criteria to send it to your list of chosen agencies so they can evaluate whether your requests are within their capabilities. Ask the agencies to also send you examples showing how they’ve solved similar problems that address the criteria.

I chose to reply as follows …

Overall, good article. But it seems each article like this makes the same suggestion made here: • Create a list of three to six agencies that fit your criteria. After you set your goals, establish needs and listen to recommendations, hash out a short list of agencies that fit the criteria.

With literally “thousands” of pr firms in the US, pray tell, how is someone with little experience ever going to be able to identify, yet alone find three to six qualified agencies? That’s the trick. And if and when the searcher can find something like 15 to take a hard look at, then maybe later they can boil them down to six.

The ability to find and then examine a sufficient quantity of qualified candidates is what we designed 17 years ago. Our process is linear and based on facts. Anyone can do it regardless of experience. Not to belabor the point, try it. The Demo is real – just doesn’t come to our attention.  Login here:

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?

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