Flash Report @ AgencyFinder – June 21, 2009
1. How to stretch your new business budget; Even if you don’t have one!
2. When the topic is budget – whose budget are we talking about?
3. 47%of AgencyFinder agencies secured new business in 2008
4. Talk about outrageous – Hank Blank tells us “Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business!”
HOW TO STRETCH YOUR NEW BUSINESS BUDGET; EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE!
It’s true for us all; with less to spend we need to work hard to make what we have do what’s needed – even if our budget bucket account is approaching empty. Getting or keeping your agency visible to prospects should be something you know how to do, so as long as that pipeline still has some life left, what you spend next is under your control.
Some suggestions . . .
1. Start when they telephone: incoming callers normally hear (including referrals) – “If you know the extension of the party you’re calling, enter it now … Or, If you know the name of the party you’re calling, enter it now …” How about re-sorting that sequence to begin with: “If you’re interested in talking with us about your account, dial #1 now!”
2. Open Your Kimono: When you’ve got a prospect to the stage where it “makes sense to meet” face-to-face, do not succumb to their invitation to make a capabilities presentation at their place. Rather, invite them to come to you for an agency tour and staff introductions. What better place for that presentation; for a guided tour; to meet the agency poodle or pit-bull; to ride in the agency Hummer; or dine at the agency’s country-club! (in searches we manage, we ALWAYS push for the agency visit).
Whether you travel to them or them to you, the costs tend to wash. But maybe you have a carriage-house on your property or you belong to a club with reduced-rate lodging. When they’re on the road traveling, you’re at home getting work done. If you can, offer to pick up the tab for their trip, since you were prepared to pay for yours. If you’re strapped for cash, purchase and pay for their airline and lodging with company credit cards. You’d do the same if traveling, right?
3. Steal Some of Our Ideas: The more you know, the better. Don’t go face-to-face with a prospect unless and until you learn what you need to know to evaluate the opportunity, and to decide what you can afford to invest in pursuit. Be sure you’re right for each other; ask what we ask them. WHEN THE TOPIC IS BUDGET – WHOSE BUDGET ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
I don’t need to remind you that things are tight. Agencies large and small, full service, pr, interactive, East to West tell us it’s a struggle to keep the doors open and they report it’s hard to find prospects willing to consider new marketing partners. Yet that flies in the face of what we hear from clients; they tell us they need to fine-tune, to focus-in and to keep spending, but they also admit to needing fresh new thinking from a fresh new marketing partner.
The truth is somewhere in the middle.
When we interview agency applicants, they often ask about our client budgets; how big, what does it cover, are they looking for an interactive agency, etc. Big: less than $100,000 to more than $100 million; Cover: they expect whatever it takes to protect sales at last years numbers, or increase 2009 figures by X%; Looking for: most clients aren’t shopping for a specific discipline but rather a series of services, and they’re not particularly fussy about what you call yourself.
That conversation segues into inquiring about the agency’s new business development budget. The answer and what the agency does in the way of “process” helps us discover if we’re talking with a “player.” More often than not (covering lots of agencies of different size and specialization), we learn there is NO specific budget. Other than the
individuals’ salary, there is no pre-approved repository that Mr. or Ms. New Business can draw from to pursue business in general, or a specific hot opportunity. That’s like “Gentlemen, start your engines” – on an empty tank!
Maybe that explains why, in agency interviews and on the topic of our subscription plan fees, we’re the recipient of tons of creative thinking. Most volunteer they’d be happy to pay us far beyond our published fees, if they win the business and when they get paid. Its the IF and WHEN that our accountants object to. Where we’ve carried the conversation forward and volunteer the traditional 10% finder’s fee, the response is OK – on net. As in, after there’s nothing left.
We’re not talking about the initial no-brainier $500 payment, but our annual fee – the $5,000 balance due. But only due and payable if and when the pre-screened and qualified agency has held their no-obligation prospect telephone interview, and has decided to contend and compete for the business. Most agencies agree that our business model is fair and equitable; especially those who have benefited over the years. That model hasn’t changed appreciably since 1997 (including the rates). However, our management has a reputation for being “most reasonable,” so when a smaller client budget doesn’t support the full fee, those fees are adjusted on a “case-by-case” basis. You always have the chance to accept or decline in such a negotiation. If agency business development budgets were calculated as agencies often recommend to prospects, what should the new business budget be for an agency capitalized at $45 Million?
1. $4.5 million (10%)
2. $450,000 (1%)
3. $45,000 (.1%)
4. $4,500 (.01%)
Answer (it depends …) But give pause to what the prospect would think if you compared “percentages.”
We all know some agencies are paying $4,000/$5,000 each month to telephone appointment setters; they attend out-of-town “how to conferences” and put their notebooks away afterwards; they purchase massaged “hot-prospect” lists (that still need to be called or mailed to); they take 2-day “grip & grin/kiss & tell” cruises at $20,000 per head; or remarkably, they retain a qualified consultant that actually teaches them and then tests to see if they learned something.
You can’t kid a kidder. We’re proud of our long business development heritage, our experience as a search consultant organization (some 9,000+ encounters) and of the value we deliver for a meager $5,000 per year! Thanks for your trust in AgencyFinder …
HERE 47% OF AGENCYFINDER AGENCIES SECURED NEW BUSINESS IN 2008
Recently we were asked what percent of our paid agencies won a piece of business last year. I’m sure we could pull those stats together, but frankly, our rather small staff is more than busy interviewing clients, registering agencies and managing the complexities of client searches.
We just don’t have the resources to answer that or the other “statistics” requests that come our way.
When asked such questions, we defer to the fact that certain things here are confidential, and that’s that. That includes any “list” of our registered agencies, although our Search Announcements and rotating logos reveal quite a few agency names. If you or a client wants to know if an agency is in our database, entering their name at the Adweek Agency Namefinder will tell the tale.
Statistics are often misleading. An agency’s success in attracting and getting new business here at AgencyFinder is a function of the agency record, i.e. – agency experience (category experience, markets served, services offered, etc.), completeness and persuasiveness of their essays and case histories, record currency and the precision of the match to specified client needs. Not all agencies are identical. Beyond that, ours is a “match-making” service and we play no role and are not responsible for what any agency does following our introduction. We have never promoted our business on promise or probability, just as our agencies know not to promise specific marketing results. We advocate based on our years of a consistent and publicized track record of bringing real, pre-screened client opportunities coupled with a professionally and personally managed search process. Our staff has done so on 9281 occasions (today’s number). Our “human component” is unique to AgencyFinder and represents skills and experience related not only to the client search process, but to agency business development. You won’t find a better or perfected model elsewhere.
When you attempt to compare us with others, it’s virtually impossible to do so on an “apples & apples” basis. How do you compare our 12 years and thousands of searches to one that is new? How do you compare our “managed process” with a “flat-file” un-managed directory? You don’t …
STARTING SLOW; FINISHING SLOW
We don’t need a survey to let us see that client registrations, then client searches and client awards are starting slow and finishing slow. Not the pace last year at this time (we’re down about 10%) but that’s not bad considering … But clients are taking quite a bit longer to ponder their candidates, to weigh and re-adjust their budgets and expectations, and then to walk the candidate agencies through their paces.
If only we could all count on things staying the “same” for awhile …
TALK ABOUT OUTRAGEOUS – HANK BLANK TELLS US “WHY AGENCIES DON’T WANT NEW BUSINESS!”
Such balderdash I told Hank. They’re dying for it. So he suggested I purchase his CD to hear his side of the story. I did; now you can, too. I even posted a recommendation on his LinkedIn site: “Hank’s a man after my heart – he’s a New Business Guru! Having seen it from both sides (agency & client), he knows it’s not a territory for novices or virgins. I’ve heard his new CD and Hank gets to the point – new business is not an accident waiting to happen! No one will ever share the “whole truth & nothing but the truth”, but his CD covers a bunch. Buy it. Take what you learn there; then become an AgencyFinder member. That’s the best of both worlds!!!
… AND FINALLY
The rumors and reports seem to be unanimous – we’re all working harder than ever for less than ever, but at least it’s keeping food on the table and gas in the tank. If you’re lucky, you can sneak some quality time-off! We are experiencing much of the same, but at least the tunnel for everyone seems shorter and open at the other end. Pass the word; tell your friends; let us help them find and hire you!
P.S. – It’s time for a website redux here; we welcome your thoughts and suggestions. As we have since 1997, we look forward to getting you face-to-face with a great prospect. Then & Now – We Built it For You!
Charles G. Meyst, Chairman/CEO
Business Partnering International, Ltd.
Vantage Place, 4327 Cox Road
Glen Allen, VA 23060