Blog Posts

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.

 

Does Your Marketing Feel Like This These Days? As an Advertiser or As an Agency?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Consultancy, Marketing Partenerships

Why this is the Right Time to Hire a New or Replacement Ad Agency and Others

Is your current agency or in-house group providing creative and tactical ideas for developing relevant online content during these COVID-19 and country-wide rioting disruptions in business? Are they thinking about how to use this time to help you creatively drive engagement, traffic or calls to your business? If your business has lost internal marketing support is your agency stepping up to fill in those gaps? Regardless of the challenges we all face, there are ways to continue to market and promote a brand. Finding the right PR, digital or marketing agency can transform these challenges into opportunities.

COVID-19 has given us time to think. If you have anything to do with marketing, this disruption is likely causing a lot of indecision. Hiring a marketing, digital or PR partner is about identifying the right agency and talent that understands your industry and how to mitigate the uncertainty of the pandemic. They must have a firm understanding of what it takes to continue building brand awareness and sales. If you have an agency or in-house department that is not pulling their weight, use this time wisely to consider searching for a new partner.

Your Criteria
There’s the temptation to search for an agency “type.” As in digital, experiential, direct, integrated, public relations and so on. Don’t start with type. Start with experience. Does this agency have relevant experience in your industry, do they understand the nuances and personalities of the people you are targeting? Do they have the right type of talent, experience and background that brings fresh thinking? are they equipped to work remotely with your company and team to turn projects around on budget and deadline? Are they willing to share meaningful insights that can help accelerate the growth of your brand?  Are they the right size, fit, responsive and willing to do what it takes to ensure the seamless execution and implementation of any marketing challenging?

Your Search
In the final analysis, many options exist for identifying a new marketing partner. Many of which are impersonal and lack the insights, details and information necessary to make a good decision. For over 20 years we’ve been connecting marketers and advertisers with agencies and agencies with new clients. We provide an elegantly, curated, powerful, complimentary and efficient, platform to identify and evaluate agencies. The combination of an on-board search engine and extensive agency-produced profiles allows for identifying and targeting the most appropriate candidates.

So is it the right time to find a new marketing partner? See for yourself. There may be the perfect agency just waiting to help through these uncertain times. And the recent turn of events that lead to rioting has added another unheard of challenge. You have nothing to lose and you may be surprised at what you’ll find.

Is It Time To Address The Elephant In The Room?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Partenerships

How about it; do you find the pre-COVID commercials showing life as it was a sometimes irritating, annoying reminder we can’t live that way today? Spots showing large gatherings at backyard barbeques; youngsters sitting close on the beach for a beer and bonfire, we’re not there yet. Some brands do show masks and distancing, even voicing the need to take it slow. But most have not.

Understandably no brand wants to bear the messaging burden alone, so how about… would it make sense for the 4A’s, ANA, and the many other agency associations to come together to create PSA’s to address the situation? With positive, upbeat messaging guiding people to a clear path. There’s been nothing like that yet. Corporate and agency cash reserves and personal savings only go so far. Everyone has a stake in that game and it needs to be played. You can play your part beginning here.

Thousands of Marketing Firms For Hire; Find and Invite Just Those You Like!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Partenerships

Use our dashboard tools and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how quickly you can scope out the critical baseline needs for your new agency. Menu items guide you forward and the counter shows “how many.”

Our thousands of enrolled agencies constructed and compiled (not curated) the content of their individual profiles. These advertising, digital, integrated, public relations and experiential firms chose to describe themselves selecting from an array of 500+ data fields representing:

a. category experience
b. services offered
c. size
d. location
e. years in business
f. capitalized billings
g. and much more.

Advertisers and search consultants are entitled to complimentary services. Try it now for yourself.

What will your tomorrow look like?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Consultancy

Today’s close look by Drew McLellan of AMI

First — many of you let me know, after last week’s note, that apparently the locusts are on their way. I shouldn’t have been surprised!

Many of you also wrote that the piece resonated with you because you were struggling to even think about the agency, let alone buckle down and focus on the work you need to do. I think that’s where we’ve all been for the last couple of weeks.

And it’s no wonder. Here’s what 2020 has looked like so far (you may have to adjust dates based on your location in the world):

January – March 15th:
So busy we couldn’t see straight. Healthy profits and projections said 2020 could be a record year.

March 15th – March 31st: A cocktail mix of panic and paralysis as COVID-19 strikes, clients hit the pause button, and we have to figure out this WFH thing.

April 1st – April 25th: Starting to get our groove back. Gov’t relief funds in the bank and starting to have meaningful conversations with our clients and our team. Had our first decent night’s sleep in awhile, no matter if we lost no business or half our business. We are getting used to the discomfort of not knowing.

April 25th – May 25th: Hey — we’re going to be okay. Landed a new client or two, some clients slowly coming back, and our virtual happy hours are a highlight of the week. We’re beginning to think about going back to the office. And many of us have gotten a haircut!

May 26th – now: A new mix of emotions as we watch the protests, struggle with the raw reality of racism, and in many parts of the US, live under a curfew until the violence settles down.

Tomorrow: Will yours be red or green? Look at the pattern so far. Cooking with gas, then knocked to our knees, struggling to stand up, and then stand tall. Just to get knocked to our knees again.

The way you moved from the panic and paralysis season of COVID-19 is that you believed you had no choice. You just forced yourself to focus, to fight, to serve your clients, and to sell. You took care of your team when you thought your tank was empty and you made smart decisions along the way.

You decided there was no other acceptable path. Yes, it was like climbing a mountain in the dark. But it was the only way forward. And so you not only climbed the mountain — you scaled it and stood on the summit to catch your breath.

Today, someone on my Facebook feed asked the question “at what age is one too old to hide from the world in a blanket fort?” I totally get it. But we can’t afford to hide or wait. Nothing we are facing right now is a quick fix. Holding our breath and just waiting until it’s over isn’t an option. We have to be able to survive and thrive as we go through it.

You know this drill. If you wait for the perfect time to launch a business, fire a bad client, have a baby, or grow a mustache — you’ll never do any of them. You do them when you find the courage to do them, even though it’s never the perfect moment.

That’s what we have to do right now. We have to decide that despite everything our world is going through right now — it’s time to fight for our focus. It’s time to decide forward is the only path.

You’re at the base of the mountain. Are you just going to set-up camp and wait or are you going to step out into the dark and start climbing?

I wish I could make it easier. But what I can do is remind you that you are not climbing the mountain alone.

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.

 

You Don’t Really Partner With Your Clients

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Partenerships

Many agencies like to boast on their websites and in their pitch decks that they “partner” with their clients. It’s bullshit of course. What they mean is they aspire to have their clients treat them like partners instead of vendors. I get it. It’s good to have a goal. But putting it on the website doesn’t make it true.

True business partnership has at its core shared financial risk. So if you really want to partner with your clients you must put skin in the game. Your incentives need to be aligned, with compensation rising and falling with the results you help to produce. In the absence of such shared risk, claims of partnership are simply a desire to earn a higher station with the client. Everyone knows this.

You Don’t Want to Partner With All Your Clients

When it does happen, a client/agency partnership can be a beautiful thing, but many times it shouldn’t happen at all. You don’t go into business with just anybody. You partner only with people you trust. On that basis alone (and there are many more to consider, as well) how many of your current clients would you really want to partner with?

And how about the clients you pitched to, lost, and who left you with a bad taste in your mouth? How many of them would you want as business partners? Were you even able to have a meaningful conversation with the people with whom you proposed to partner? Surely you don’t think procurement or middle management are your partners? They simply don’t have the authority to make such decisions. And on your side, neither do your own people. Decisions to enter into a business partnership are made at the highest levels of the organizations—at the ownership level of an independent marketing firm or any other entrepreneurial organization, and at the executive level of a client organization where ownership and management are separated.

A Normal Distribution of Client Types

In a healthy client roster you will have a mix of client types. On the left-hand tail you will have a small number of transactional price-buyers to whom you are effectively selling excess capacity, and once-good clients on their way out.

In the middle you will find the bulk of your clients, made mostly of value buyers who, though they might be price sensitive, understand they need to invest in your services to generate value in the marketplace.

And out on the right-hand tail you might possibly have a coveted partner. Maybe even three.

Once you get the hang of this performance pay thing, you may decide to be more selective about your clients with the goal of one day having all of your clients be partners. But that’s a path few firms will choose and fewer still will be able to master. Most will choose instead to spread the risk across many engagement types with the bulk of their engagements being in the low risk, low reward category.

The Rise of Performance Pay Lip Service

Every few years there’s a spike in clients’ use of the term “performance pay.” Well before I knew anything about the intricacies of value-based pricing, I knew that when a client brings up performance pay in the sale they usually have a narrow, one-sided idea of it—one in which the agency is penalized for poor performance without the ability to earn a sizeable reward in return for putting compensation at risk.

Such a one-sided deal usually comes from procurement or other professional buyers. While you can’t really blame someone for trying to minimize their downside without sharing in the upside, such a suggestion should immediately disqualify them from the category of potential future partner.

Questions To Ask About Performance Pay

Punitive, reward-deficient deals aside, I’m a big fan of performance pay as an occasional way to shape a compensation plan. Here are some questions to ask the next time you consider partnering with a client and putting compensation at risk:

  • Are you talking to executives in the organization—people charged with future value creation who have the authority to enter into partnerships?
  • Do you trust these individuals?
  • Do you trust the organization to live up to commitments made by these executives should they leave mid-engagement?
  • Does the organization have a culture of partnership and disclosure? Are you confident that finance, procurement or some other individual or department won’t attempt to manipulate the numbers or actively work against you to rob you of incentives properly earned?
  • Does the upside correlate with the downside? There’s no golden ratio here but every dollar put at risk should have the potential to earn multiples back.
  • How much compensation are you willing to put at risk? A good client will in certain situations recognize that it’s in their interest to reward you for outcomes even without putting compensation at risk, thus creating the incentives for you to stay involved even after the agreed-upon deliverables have been met. But per the point above, the more you give up the more you should receive when the target outcomes are achieved.
  • When the possible payout is measured against time, is someone in the client organization going to push back on compensation that might translate into an hourly rate in the high hundreds or even thousands?

And of course, you have to ask questions about your own role:

  • Are you confident in your ability to affect the outcomes?
  • Can you solve the attribution problem, with both parties agreeing that your input is material to hitting the outcomes, or are there simply too many other variables at play?
  • Can you afford to take a financial risk with this client at this time, or are you better off just trading time or deliverables for cash?

The Transformative Effects of True Partnership

Just like other forms of true partnership, when you get it right it’s truly win-win. It requires two trusting parties and a delicate balancing of the risk and reward—a balance that is not universal or templatable but rather takes into consideration many unique factors of each party.

In such a partnership, the client has an agency that is laser-focused on outcomes and is not padding time or rotely going through yet another templated deliverable. The agency should be operating at this place of adventure, with the excitement of oversized reward balanced by enough downside risk to keep their attention but without threatening their existence. When it all comes together it’s a beautiful thing.

As an industry, we need to let go of this need to claim partnership with our clients and embrace the fact that some of these relationships are purely transactional. At the same time, however, we should keep an eye open for those wonderful but rare opportunities for true partnership.

Guest Author – Blair Enns, CEO, Win Without Pitching

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.

Why this is the Right Time to Hire a New Ad Agency, Digital Agency, PR firm and Others

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

Why this is the Right Time to Hire a New or Replacement Ad Agency and Others

Is your current agency or in-house group providing creative and tactical ideas for developing relevant online content during these COVID-19 and country-wide rioting disruptions in business? Are they thinking about how to use this time to help you creatively drive engagement, traffic or calls to your business? If your business has lost internal marketing support is your agency stepping up to fill in those gaps? Regardless of the challenges we all face, there are ways to continue to market and promote a brand. Finding the right PR, digital or marketing agency can transform these challenges into opportunities.

COVID-19 has given us time to think. If you have anything to do with marketing, this disruption is likely causing a lot of indecision. Hiring a marketing, digital or PR partner is about identifying the right agency and talent that understands your industry and how to mitigate the uncertainty of the pandemic. They must have a firm understanding of what it takes to continue building brand awareness and sales. If you have an agency or in-house department that is not pulling their weight, use this time wisely to consider searching for a new partner.

Your Criteria
Consideration at a safe distanceThere’s the temptation to search for an agency “type.” As in digital, experiential, direct, integrated, public relations and so on. Don’t start with type. Start with experience. Does this agency have relevant experience in your industry, do they understand the nuances and personalities of the people you are targeting? Do they have the right type of talent, experience and background that brings fresh thinking? are they equipped to work remotely with your company and team to turn projects around on budget and deadline? Are they willing to share meaningful insights that can help accelerate the growth of your brand?  Are they the right size, fit, responsive and willing to do what it takes to ensure the seamless execution and implementation of any marketing challenging?

Your Search
In the final analysis, many options exist for identifying a new marketing partner. Many of which are impersonal and lack the insights, details and information necessary to make a good decision. For over 20 years we’ve been connecting marketers and advertisers with agencies and agencies with new clients. We provide an elegantly, curated, powerful, complimentary and efficient, platform to identify and evaluate agencies. The combination of an on-board search engine and extensive agency-produced profiles allows for identifying and targeting the most appropriate candidates.

So is it the right time to find a new marketing partner? See for yourself. There may be the perfect agency just waiting to help through these uncertain times. And the recent turn of events that lead to rioting has added another unheard of challenge. You have nothing to lose and you may be surprised at what you’ll find.

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