Flash Report @ AgencyFinder – April 23, 2007
1. Agency Professionals Reveal Rare New Business Secrets at Private NYC Meeting
2. Do Not Let Your Clients Implement Off-Shore Tech or Customer Support!
3. What Exactly Do Clients Want & Expect From a Search Consultant?
4. Conventional Agency Search Consultants Get on-Stage Grilling 5. CMO Tenure @ 23 months? Do You Believe That Crap?
6. GSD&M Reveals New Business Secret Weapon
7. Looking for New Business Talent
AGENCY PROFESSIONALS REVEAL RARE NEW BUSINESS SECRETS AT PRIVATE NYC MEETING
Some 400 of the industry’s finest new business pros (ad agencies, pr firms, etc.) gathered March 27-28th in NYC to share and compare effective new business secrets. And they did just that. The Mirren/Adweek New Business Conference was well attended by those who heard entertaining and educational stories, case histories and a rather amazing willingness to share what otherwise has been kept close to the vest, in the way of pitch and
presentation errors, in-depth self analysis, and corrective actions. We’re talking industry “Big Boys & Girls” including Saatchi & Saatchi, The Martin Agency, Kaplan Thaler and Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Not one described internal machinations or fights over “what to call ourselves”, but rather how to identify a prospect’s needs and then articulate that and the ability to deliver accordingly.
The overriding advice was to chose your battles carefully. Whether the prospect is one you identified yourself, or one that singled you out (via a consultant invitation, an AgencyFinder invitation, a referral or as a “blue bird,”) don’t move forward to invest time, talent, effort or cash unless or until you establish there’s a fit and reasonable chance for successful conversion. Interestingly, that was what Donny Deutsch and Andy Berlin proclaimed from the podium at the 4A’s New Business Summit a few years ago. Nothing’s changed, but agencies need to be reminded.
DO NOT LET YOUR CLIENTS IMPLEMENT OFF-SHORE TECH OR CUSTOMER SUPPORT!
There is NO ROI in off-shore tech support or customer support! Sure it’s initially cheap. But don’t put your stamp on any such recommendation for a client of yours to go “off-shore.” Not unless you can be assured they won’t be guilty of those idiosyncrasies that drive folks mad. Want to trigger an emotional eruption? Talk to almost anyone about the infamous off- shore (typically Indian dialect) customer support; the phony cover names, the fact they sound virtually identical. Add the fact that when we call from the US, we’re talking with people that ought to be sleeping and who have the uncanny talent to ignore most of what we say, and instead encourage us to follow a step-by-step process from their one- size-fits-all support manuals.
How many times have we heard that it’s cheaper and more effective to cultivate more business from current clients than to create new ones. So when off-shore support drives your client’s customers away, that’s not cost-effective!
WHAT EXACTLY DO CLIENTS WANT & EXPECT FROM A SEARCH CONSULTANT?
The current Porsche review raises that question. Plans for the review had been in the works since early November 2006. When the story broke in the press on March 8th, it stated the client was “currently considering consultants to handle the review process.” On March 23rd, they announced they had made that appointment. Most agencies assume the consultant plays a pivotal role in the identification of candidates, yet this “pre- consultant” announcement and the 15 days hence gave more than adequate time for every agency in the country
with an appetite for a car account to pounce. Time to prepare and dispatch another FedEx bouquet. I know for a fact that many of our agencies did just that.
In a client search, I know what we do. Our virtually fool-proof process identifies agencies that have precisely what the client (or consultant) says they want. Meaning previous category experience, services, target markets, size, age, location, even type of firm. We facilitate all that up-front imperative, but in most cases, we fall back in the shadows after we issue the invitations. Historically, AgencyFinder clients prefer to manage what happens next. We’re there to help, but we don’t “run” the process. From the agency perspective, most love it, since you always get to speak directly with the horse.
Agencies are always hungry to understand who does what, what happens next, how did we do, can we do better, where did we fall short? It would be helpful for conventional consultants (those hired and compensated by the client to do their bidding) to share, to explain, even to publish a bit more detail of what they do and when, how they affect the ultimate decision, and even how (but not necessarily how much) they get paid. CONVENTIONAL AGENCY SEARCH CONSULTANTS GET ON-STAGE GRILLING
Brave that they were; hosts Brent Hodgins (Mirren’s Main Man), Catherine Bension, Judy Neer; Moderator Alison Fahey (Adweek), and consultants Linda Fidelman, Dick Roth, Brian Goodall and Lorraine Rojek. It was less a grilling than a polite toasting as the audience asked – what influence do you have on the outcome; can you or do you try to help an agency that appears to be committing suicide; what can we do to get on your radar; would it help for us to come and visit; and how important is previous experience in category?
The “How do we get on your radar?” issue bantered back and forth, but the nail went in at about 50 employees. If you don’t have that or more, there’s not much you can do (except get press coverage for something exceptional – then size is less important). Yes Virginia, it IS necessary for almost every agency to have a functional, well-oiled, targeted and assertive new business program and someone at the helm! (Sorry)
The consultants all did a good job demonstrating that each is different, each has a different approach to the subject, each appeared compassionate and caring, and for a client who needs guidance, direction and support, they’ll get it from these folks! And Alison was clearly on top of everything.
CMO TENURE @ 23 MONTHS – DO YOU BELIEVE THAT CRAP?
The media is full of CMO/Death stories, warnings and speculations as to what’s going on. We heard it from the podium as well. What I meant to do but didn’t was get a question directed to the attending audience of 400 representing 4,000 or so client CMO’s (400 agencies x 10 clients per agency) and ask – is that your perception or experience with the CMO’s at your clients? If CMO’s are as gun-shy as the press reports, we all need to hold their hands more; listen with more intent and passion; seek to assure them that we will speak nothing but the truth (and do so); and we will (not me – you agency guys) take all the arrows for any marketing shortcomings.
Seriously, I’d appreciate some feedback on this (as in CMO behavior and attitudes) because we all need to pay particular attention to that, even to consider what I suggested from the floor – how about a “How To Be Great Client” Seminar?
GSD&M REVEALS NEW BUSINESS SECRET WEAPON
Roy Spence is a hoot! He also demonstrated that it doesn’t hurt to captivate an audience as one powerful new business skill. Fortunately for those of you who haven’t mastered stage presence like Roy, birds of a feather flock together in business. You’ll win your share of those that don’t enjoy laughing as much.
On a serious note, Roy did have his list of “10.” Some but not all included:
1. Be Different before better
2. Don’t be ignored
3. Know everybody in the room
4. Rehearse 3 times or not at all
5. Be a better you!
And finally, for anyone who thinks new business or business development comes free, Roy told the audience they spent $1 million to compete for the Wal-Mart business.
LOOKING FOR NEW BUSINESS TALENT
Brent Hodgins asked the audience how many agencies have a person working full-time at new business. Speculation was 5 – 10%. I expand that question – how many working at new business (full or some portion of their day) have formal new business training? Similarly, how many follow a process that could be replicated by their successor? Looking at it from the employee’s perspective, how many agencies have and own a process they can introduce to a business development candidate? In most hiring situations, the agency thinks the candidate will bring a
“process” when they come; the candidate thinks the agency has one they will use. The first day is generally a big surprise to both.
On that topic, I know of a great mid-sized agency in sunny Arizona that needs to hire an experienced new business pro (with a process). If you can help, give me a call and I’ll vector you in.
Charles G. Meyst, Chairman/CEO
Business Partnering International, Ltd.
Vantage Place, 4327 Cox Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060