Business Development

Are you surprised at how 2020 is wrapping up?

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

To be honest, I’m not. I’m inspired by how 2020 is wrapping up, but I’m not all that surprised. I’ve watched you since the pandemic struck, and you’ve been remarkable.

Here’s what I’ve been witness to since early 2020.

  • You and your team reacted quickly when the lockdown hit
  • You made sure your team had everything they needed at home — extra monitors, better chairs, etc
  • You reached out to your clients with a very genuine desire to help and stayed by their side as they navigated the craziness of COVID
  • You started working double shifts to help clients, counsel your team, and face the financial truths
  • You made the difficult decision to crunch the numbers and watch them every week so you wouldn’t be caught off-guard
  • You started beating the streets — reaching out to former clients, the prospects in your pipeline, and anyone who responded to your outbound efforts
  • You chased down the PPP funds so you could ride out the storm
  • You created new offerings that would help your clients climb out of COVID’s grips
  • You found new ways to do old marketing tactics that worked in this weird moment in time
  • You made some difficult decisions and faced some hard goodbyes that broke your heart but protected your shop
  • You buckled down and created some truly helpful content that served your audience and attracted new people into your community
  • You hosted zoom cocktail hours, trivia contests, and karaoke debacles to keep up your team’s spirits
  • You landed some new clients and figured out how to onboard them even though you’d never met them
  • You kept up the crazy hours, working nights and weekends to keep everything running and your team calm
  • You guided your team back to the office in a safe and sane way (or this may still be on your to-do list for 2021) and reveled in the energy, collaboration, and joy of being back together
  • You brainstormed with clients to help them see the opportunities within the crisis and maximize them
  • You celebrated every win (big or small) with your team, and you’ve shouldered every loss in private, trying to keep everyone’s spirits up
  • You have clawed, crawled, and kicked your way back to profits, and now you are not only surviving in 2020, but you are thriving in it. For 90% of you, that means financially thriving. But even if you’re still working your way back money-wise, you’re thriving in other ways.
  • You have set yourself up for an amazing 2021

No wonder you’re tired, and no wonder I’m not surprised. You’ve been amazing.

Have you done it all perfectly? Probably not. But have you done it all with a full heart and the best of intentions? Have you run yourself ragged to take care of your clients, your team, and your family as 2020 is wrapping up?

The answer to all of those is a resounding yes. So you shouldn’t be surprised. You are right where you deserve to be because you earned it. With every late night and moment of worry. I hope you’re proud of yourself and what you’ve done. If you’ll permit me to say so, I’m incredibly impressed and proud of you.

All this as expressed and said by our good friend and association leader Drew McLellan at Agency Management Institute, AMI, check out Drew and his association!

 

 

What Did You Think of the Rubber Chicken?

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

What did you think of the rubber chicken? Today’s business development pros strongly suggest you avoid the cold call. Maybe that time is gone but maybe it’s time to bring it back. Folks are abandoning email like files on dead meat; the experts now advocate we annoy people in a new way. Let’s fill up their text message folders. People have considered text messages personal and sacred. But they do see business intrusion coming and they aren’t happy. But there’s good news for those working in the B2B world. Your intended recipients expect to be approached, one way or other. Enter direct mail and the call.

Your lead to leadsYour targeted B2B phone call will hit the target. It will always take more than one attempt, but your target finally answers. “Bernard Epson here”, and you say “Bernard, what did you think of the rubber chicken?” Rubber chicken you say! Yes you sent Bernard (or his female equivalent) a bright yellow rubber chicken. And he’s been waiting for your call. This call format is not for the faint of heart. It takes someone who can strike up a conversation and keep it going. The chicken (or anything else) is your conversation starter. What happens next is up to you but if you’re good, you had a warm conversation and an open door to call again.

Forrester: US Agencies Will Shed More Than 50,000 Jobs By 2021

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

by Alison Weissbrot

US agency sector will lay off about 52,000 jobs

The US agency sector will lay off about 52,000 jobs over the next two years as media spend declines 23%, Forrester predicts. Agencies are projected to cut 35,167 jobs in 2020 and 16,578 in 2021.

The global picture is even starker, with the big six agency holding companies poised to eliminate an additional 49,695 global positions by 2021.

“It’s a dismal forecast,” said Jay Pattisall, analyst at Forrester and author of the report. “Layoffs are inevitable and already underway.”

To date, all of the major holding companies have announced layoffs, furloughs and voluntary pay cuts. This activity will only continue as large swaths of the economy remain shut down and categories such as travel and retail are dark.

“This set of circumstances is unprecedented,” Pattisall said. “The contraction of spending is across the board, and agencies as a service provider take the biggest hit.”

Advertising agencies, which have struggled to adopt technology and are experiencing a long-term financial decline, will be the hardest hit by layoffs.

Advertising agencies already account for more than 50% of layoffs across the sector, and they are currently laying off 15% of staff on average, compared to 7% at digital and media agencies. Digital and media agencies offer more relevant services to clients looking to embrace digital transformation and communications.

“Economically, [advertising agencies] have been the most challenged in the United States,” Pattisall said. “Advertising has become a more programmatic and data-driven offering, and [advertising] agencies have been slower on the uptake of that technology.”

As agencies shed jobs, some will inevitably close, especially those that skew toward pressured categories or traditional services. Smaller agencies are more likely to close than larger ones with more resources or cash in the bank, but public companies are held to greater scrutiny for cost-cutting and creating shareholder value.

“The impact should be pretty even across the two,” Pattisall said. “But it’s likely that you see publicly owned companies taking action earlier because of the economic pressures.”

Silver lining?

As agencies are forced to reduce headcount, there’s “tremendous opportunity” to reshape their talent pool, Pattisall said. Agencies that embrace automation and hire talent with multidisciplinary expertise, as opposed to channel-specific knowledge, are better positioned.

“Ultimately, it will be less specialization and more of a multiskilled workforce that includes new systems and tools,” he said.

Agencies must also accept technology and automation as a fundamental part of their workflow. While digital and media agencies have been adopting automation, machine learning and AI for years, advertising agencies need to catch up.

Creative agencies, traditionally resistant to technology, have an opportunity to use automation to surface insights that inspire ideas, help teams collaborate and scale production. And media agencies can lean even further into AI and machine learning to inform audience segmentation, channel selection, budget allocation and measurement.

“I see all agency capabilities being assisted by automaton to one degree or another, from finance to HR, all the way through to strategy, creative and production,” Pattisall said.

Cuts to the agency workforce could inspire CMOs to bring more work in house, either to cut costs in the short term or as a result of agency talent drain. There will be more opportunities for brands to hire in-house talent or freelancers who have been laid off from agencies.

But eventually, companies will have to decide whether a long-term investment in an in-house team is worthwhile. And if it’s not, marketers have to play a role in reshaping agency structures and compensation models so they can survive in a new reality.

“CMOs that cut these corners may find themselves continuing to suffer from the impact of the shortening tenure inside the C-suite,” Pattisall said.

You’ve Got 30,000 Competitors – Did You Know That?

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

How in the world can you expect to stand out; how will anyone find you? If you’re an ad agency or any of its derivatives, you’ve been told for years there are 29,999 more agencies in the US competing with you, wanting to be found. So what’s the secret for breaking through the clutter to connect with ideal clients?

Follow this… Not too many years ago in the mid-nineties, most agencies were content to prospect within a limited-mile radius of their office. Biz Dev consisted of direct mail, modest early-stage email and telephone outreach. And most competitors were also within that radius, but certainly nothing like 30,000! From the client’s perspective, other than Yellow Pages and Redbook, there was a crying need for a place or service they could use to search and find perfect-fit agency candidates. In 1997, to answer that need we introduced AgencyFinder.com, one place clients could visit to find and explore a database of extensive agency data contributed by our many good-friend agencies themselves. Substantial Internet traffic found us and for quite some time the “world was our oyster.”

We delivered no-cost algorithm agency search coupled with HI (human intelligence) consultant-assisted guidance. That was good for the industry because agency websites were themselves at an infant stage. Maybe you don’t remember, but agency websites were often wanting! Then after quite a spell, AgencyFinder copycat directories began to surface. Disappointingly directories embraced the “Google Model” – the more an agency paid the more prominent their display. Not really fair to agency or client. Close but “no cigar” in what they delivered, but they chipped away at our traffic anyway. And agencies were beginning to learn.  SEO and SEM; keywords, social media – all to vector searching clients directly to their websites. And that’s where things are today. Slowly but without mercy, those 30,000 agencies each introduced websites all decked out in their best SEO, shouting “I’m here!” But what is here? Is it equivalent to searching a database of 4,500 prominent agencies committed to new business who drew upon more than 500 data fields, 7 essays, case histories and website access to factually and visibly define their firms, or is it the relatively shallow agency website data Google will use to find candidates? For local search Goggle is powerful, but most clients are well beyond locations as their primary stipulant.

So what to do… well, what goes around comes around. Direct mail is again shouting “look at me!” Agencies advise clients to target; so agencies should target as well. Email these days is destined to the giant junk mail folder in the Cloud. Clever DM can be a pleasant and compelling surprise. That coupled with professional telephone outreach to ask – “what did you think of what I sent?” can begin a meaningful business relationship. But don’t forget to check out or overlook AgencyFinder.com and those few like us that still offer the precision and free service that’s always been our forte’. If you’re an agency needing targeted client introductions Enroll Now. If you’re a client needing “perfect-fit” agencies, Search Now!

Why the World Doesn’t Need Another Generalist Firm

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

We’re going to kick this off with some tough love: The world does not need another generalist firm.

The reason why running your agency still feels so hard is you have not successfully positioned your firm. And let me tell you, avoiding The Difficult Business Decision is the single biggest problem when it comes to business development.

Specializing is scary. It feels risky. You don’t want to scare off leads — lord knows, they’re hard enough to come by!

Think about that for a second.

You call yourself a “full-service agency” because it makes you feel like you’re covering all the bases. Look no further, Mr. Client! There’s nothing we can’t do for you.

But if your client list is bloated with too many clients, paying too little but demanding way too much and, keeping you from actually attracting the ideal clients you so dearly need — you have a positioning problem.

Maybe it’s time to rethink risk.

Like a list of competitors as long as your arm — and that’s just your local market.

That is risky.

In this scenario, you have little or no power so you capitulate and write the Big Damned Expensive Proposal (and miss eating dinner with your family, again).

Your power comes from being seen as meaningfully different in the eyes of your ideal client.

To choose a focus for a market is to choose power. You are choosing to be strong.

The truth is, successful positioning is what separates the good WWP firms from the great.

They didn’t get there by failing to decide.

They got there by boldly staking their claim and building deep expertise in the service of their ideal clients.

They didn’t let an expensive consultant do the picking for them.

They didn’t delegate it to a writer or make it a branding-by-committee exercise.

They did the hard work of reframing their business around their bold decision (we’ll get to that later) … but first, they decided … to decide.

“I’m going to do X discipline for Y market.”

Stay tuned: we’re going to share the framework for making that Big Business Decision and all the things that flow from it that have served other WWP firms just like yours so well in a few days.

And just in case you’re thinking:

“I get it. I do. But we’re a creative firm … I’ll be bored with any one thing I choose in about 3 months flat. Then what?”

That’s a topic for our next email.

It’s one of the BIGGEST misconceptions — that your creativity will shrivel up and die. I promise you, it’s the opposite.

I’ll show you what your new and powerful world will look like in my next email.

We’ll look for it and get it posted!

This post compliments of Shannyn Lee, Director of Coaching at Win Without Pitching

This is a moment. Not forever. (re COVID-19)

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

Right after my mom passed away, several wise friends who had endured a significant loss of their own counseled me not to make any big decisions for at least six months, because grief brain was real. It’s a physical reaction that can release high levels of stress hormones in the body leading to confusion, fuzzy thinking, disrupted sleep, and depression. Sound familiar?

Looking back at that time, I recognize how grateful I am that they offered that advice and I was smart enough to take it.

I think we’re all suffering from grief brain right now. We are grieving the killer year our agencies were on track to have. We’re grieving the normalcy of a collaborative work environment without social distancing and wiping everything down. We’re grieving clients who have paused or left. And each of us is grieving our personal losses on top of the work ones.

It’s easy to rush to an extreme decision when you’re in the grips of grief brain. It feels good to take back the control. It makes sense in the moment to make a radical change in your business based on what you know about today. But, for the long-term health of your agency — please proceed with caution.

There’s a significant difference between the reality we’re in, versus suffering the loss of a loved one. One is a new and permanent reality. This is not. We are not all going to be wearing masks forever. We are not going to be wiping down every surface forever or feeling anxious when a stranger bursts our six-foot bubble.

I have no idea when we’ll be past COVID, but we will get past it. This moment in time is not our new normal.

If you’re heading towards a huge decision — find people to think it through with you. Ask them to play devil’s advocate. Force yourself to explain in as if it were 2023. Does it still make sense?

It might be the right call. Or it may be the right call for the rest of 2020 but a terrible decision for 2021. A rash decision in 2020 could unravel what you’ve spent decades building. Just go slow and double-check your thinking.

Don’t let grief brain play its tricks on you.

Great thoughts from Drew McLellan @ AMI

Drew says – “This is your time!” (Specifically directed at small to mid-sized agencies)

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

In last week’s notes, I talked about all of the ways agencies are using this strange moment in time as the impetus to create something new or give something old a fresh twist. The ingenuity that you are demonstrating is just one of the reasons why I think your agency is about to bloom in some very cool new ways.

I think we are entering the age of the small to mid-sized agency. Here’s why I think you are poised for explosive growth and new opportunity:

  • Clients need scrappy marketing tactics and strategies that can be tested, tweaked, and re-deployed without months of navel-gazing.
  • Clients want an agency that isn’t stuck in a single strategy set or offers every client the same solution.
  • Clients want to be and feel important to their agency — they don’t want to be the small fish in the big pond.
  • Clients want access to senior-level people who have expertise in their industry, with their audience, or solving their particular problem.
  • Clients are demanding transparency and efficiency with their budgets (so fewer layers and admin costs).
  • Clients want an agency partner that runs a lean, mean shop so they are not paying for excess overhead or frills.
  • Clients need an agency that is willing to get their hands dirty and really learn about the client’s business and customers.
  • Clients are hungry for an agency that is willing to learn something new, take a risk, and fight a little harder to help the client’s cash register ring.

And that, my friends, is you. Just like people want to shop local, clients want relationships that feel a little deeper, a little more valued, and want to partner with someone that they believe truly has their back.

So often I see you trying to disguise your size by not proudly owning it. Now it is time for you to shout that you are the perfect size to play a major role in your client’s success.

Keep demonstrating your innovative spirit. Celebrate the relationships you have with clients. Promote that you are ready to re-define the rules and get out there and win some new business!

This is your time!

Words of Wisdom from our friend Drew McLellan  @ AMI

Lacking Email Leads? Maybe This Will Help

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

Stay with me, this might explain and offer a fix. Here at AgencyFinder.com we use our own mail server for Flash Reports and group email intended for our registered agency contacts. We don’t use services like MailChimp or ConstantContact because we don’t want their Opt Out feature to remove a critical agency contact. Even in our emails, an incorrect Opt Out request can end up taking the agency off-line. Read our Opt Out instructions below for details.

For years our incoming mail came in through Earthlink. They proved to have an aggressive filter that seldom grabbed anything we needed to see. Your agency should want to see all non-malicious email that arrives so you can pick and choose. After all, we’re both wanting to engage anyone looking to hire an agency. In  our case, we’re also on the lookout for agencies wanting to enroll for new business.

Six months ago, we experienced a change. Email from my ISP Webmaster wasn’t getting through to me. When he asked why I hadn’t been answering, I went looking. Not in my computer’s Outlook Junk folder, but I did find his messages in the early upstream Earthlink web-mail folder. To make a very long story short, EarthLink had hired a new aggressive third-party service to screen and filter their incoming mail. And I was told in no uncertain terms that they couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything on our behalf. My Webmaster tells me all the carriers have tightened up considerably in response to bogus COVID-related traffic. And all that takes place well prior to whatever filters you have set locally, including your White Lists. So for incoming mail we switched to Gmail with good results.

But there’s more. In our recent group emails, we’re seeing evidence of increased blocking by Outlook. Bounced email example: “Outlook blocked access to the following potentially unsafe attachment.” All I did was use a semi-colon in the subject line. If you knew all this already, great. If not, hope it helped!

Note Example: To remove only yourself from AgencyFinder, Opt Out here. To remove your agency from any future invitations, you must be a C-Level Officer. Type REMOVE in the subject line and reply.

 

Your Agency Needs New Clients Now; What Are Your New Business Options?

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

The word on the agency street is that most want and need new clients now, not tomorrow. But how realistic is that? That expressed urgency has everything to do with orders to sequester-in-place issued for the COVID-19 fiasco and then the ensuing riots in protest of the killing of George Floyd. Just as some states were beginning to allow phased openings, the country-wide riots frightened many people who in-turn chose not to travel for work to city-center properties or to begin shopping in ernest. The result – a continuing drag on the prospect of renewed commerce and positive agency cash-flow.

After months of deep cash-flow reductions, many agencies, even those who managed to snare some of the government’s stimulus monies, were down to spending for absolute necessities, and that didn’t initially include spending for future business development. So what’s an agency to do? Some rather lucky shops may have been cultivating opportunities during the past months and now feel comfortable working to close that business. For them that’s great. But the majority found themselves stuck in limbo; choosing not to reach out to prospects and at that same time, prospects were also “hunkered down” and constrained their research and outreach faced with an uncertain future.

OK, time to get moving! Consider these options and sequence for deployment. Options are sorted by timing and costs. Not considered are items and inventory already owned by agency. Nor is talent or training of agency individuals.

Code: Timing A-Now B-3 months C-6 months D-9 months  Costs F-Free $-charge

  1. Agency Website content – AF
  2. Agency Telemarketing – AF
  3. Agency Email blasts – AF
  4. Match-Maker enrollments – AF$ i.e. AgencyFinder.com
  5. New Business Newspapers – Leads, espionage – A$ i.e. Ratti Report, Winmo
  6. Agency Website SEO & PPC – B$
  7. Agency Direct mail w/phone follow – B$
  8. Directory Listings – BF$ i.e. Clutch, AgencySpotter
  9. Outsourced (Third-Party) appointment setting – B$ i.e. RSW-US
  10. Agency Search consultant enrollments – CF i.e. See 4A’s
  11. Agency LinkedIn Programs – C$
  12. Agency Speaking engagements – CF
  13. Agency experiential events – C$

This rather long list illustrates the fact that agency business development is no part-time proposition nor is it for the faint-of-heart!  Have at it.

 

Is your agency stuck? Drew wants you to get moving!

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

Advice from Drew (McLellan of AMI Fame)

I’ve been talking to agency owners from every edge of the globe. I’m doing this to find out what’s going on in their part of the world and how the pandemic is impacting their agency. Throughout the course of these conversations, I often end up asking about what their plan is for the next 30-60-90 days. I don’t typically get a concrete answer. Or I get a very scattered answer of 153 different tactics. But the most dangerous response I get is when an agency owner tells me that they’re busy, making money, and they really should but they’re afraid to take the action they believe they should take.

The unknown of this pandemic has many agencies and their leaders frozen in place. So instead of hiring, expanding, pivoting or whatever they know they should do — they’re paralyzed. I don’t want to go all science-y on you but it takes more force to get an object at rest to move than it does to keep a moving object in motion. That inertia is harder to overcome than it is to change directions once you’re already in motion.

For many agencies, the financial aid that your government has provided has brought welcome relief. But I fear that it also brought you an excuse to hit the pause button. Under the guise of catching your breath, you’ve allowed the agency to slow down or maybe even stop moving. Take the moment that you need but do not let it stretch beyond a moment.

For the last several weeks I’ve been imploring you to put together 5 mini-plans to keep your agency pushing forward. Any one of those plans will force you to remove any inertia that is threatening to set-in. The combination of them will force you to keep moving. Once you’re in motion, you can shift directions as needed because you’ll already have momentum on your side.

In the next 30 days what is your agency doing to:

• Make sure you deliver every project on-time and on-budget so you don’t whittle away your profit margins?

• Get your team fired-up, better prepared/skilled, and focused on serving clients and delivering ROI every single day?

• Secure your current clients and help them grab marketshare while their competitors are stuck in place?

• Attract new clients who are hungry to take advantage of the opportunities that are found in every economic downturn?

And most important of all — what are you, the agency owner or leader, doing in the next 30 days to create a vision of your agency’s future that you can share with excitement and confidence so that your entire team can rally behind you?

Don’t let yourself get stuck. I’m not advocating you become reckless. But, I am advocating that you believe in yourself and the truth in front of you. For some of you that truth means you should be hiring right now. For others, it means you need to let someone go, regardless of your financial package. For yet others, it means becoming very focused and very motivated to go find the new clients who will appreciate and benefit from a partnership with you.

Get moving — you can adjust the plan as you go.

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