Forrester Survey Highlights Clients’ Lack Of Confidence in Both Traditional And Digital Agencies Alike!

February 9, 2010

Forrester Research conducted a “state of interactive agencies” survey of about 100 global interactive marketers. It found just 23 percent believed their “traditional brand agency” is capable of planning and managing interactive marketing activities.

While that would appear to be good news for digital agencies, particularly as digital continues to enjoy increased allocations in most marketing budgets. The Forrester survey however, found few clients are willing to give them responsibility for the brand’s overall direction. Just 22 percent agreed that their interactive agency is “ready to lead my brand.” Another 33 percent said their digital shops aren’t ready, with the rest neutral.

The result is what Forrester calls “the great race” as traditional shops scramble to add digital know-how and digital shops seek to move up the ladder to become brand stewards, rather than Web site and banner ad specialists.

The survey found that in an ideal world, clients would like to work with a single agency with 60 percent saying that they would like one digital shop.  When you look deeper into the survey data it would appear that even within digital, only one in five respondents currently rely on a single provider. Almost 60 percent of respondents currently have two or more.

For every digital agency that manages to secure brand lead responsibilities, there are just as many traditional agencies making inroads into the digital world.  Add to this the increasing number of emerging media specialists (mobile and social media) that appear on a daily basis and you have the digital equivalent of the Wild West.

No matter whether you are a traditional or digital shop, there is no doubt that you have your work cut out for you.

From a digital perspective your agency might be well served… Investing your time and money keeping abreast of new technologies and emerging media versus chasing those elusive brand responsibilities.

From a traditional perspective, your agency might be well served… Protecting your current turf and client relationships, while at the same time expanding your creative and strategic capabilities to include people like Idea Architects and Idea Engineers. Then partner with digital specialists to develop and execute truly integrated marketing campaigns.


Rx For Agencies Suffering From Digital, Direct, PR and Social Media Confusion Or Disorientation

January 25, 2010

Reduction in the role of channel specialists. Today, interactive marketers want agencies to keep them ahead of the curve. But for most agencies, this means little more than just providing executional help in digital channels.

“As marketers seek interactivity, agencies that subsist will forgo their role as channel specialists and dedicate themselves instead to determining how to change the relationship marketers have with their end customers”.    Source: Shar Van Boskirk, Forrester Research, Jan 12, 2010

The opportunity is clear. Forget about continuing to structure your agency in silos like brand, direct, digital and social marketing, and start to think about People2People marketing. If you can integrate your marketing efforts and succeed in motivating customers not only to interact with you, but to share their personal networks with you, you will have created a powerful channel for your brand in the marketplace.

Click on the link below to view or download the full presentation.

View more presentations from Clive Maclean.

Recent Fortune 100 RFP’s Search For A New Breed of People2People Agency

December 22, 2009

 

In recent weeks, a number of Fortune 100 companies have issued agency RFP’s that share a common purpose. They are all looking for a unique agency organization that can truly deliver what they refer to as “Integrated Customer Relationship Marketing”. Some common parameters across all of the documents can be summarized as follows:

  • Preferably an agency that was not built out of a historical specialty (like advertising or direct marketing etc), but rather one that has been built from the ground up with the vision of being a truly integrated shop.
  • The key disciplines required are digital, direct, CRM/eCRM, data analytics, integrated marketing planning and true channel neutrality.

A key question asked by most of them is: “What is your vision for the future of Integrated Customer Relationship Marketing?” I thought I would take a shot at answering it, and sharing my perspectives with all of you.

Here is my response:

As we move deeper into this new “conversation economy,” true brand engagement and customer relationships are becoming more and more important. Marketers must strive to create ongoing and relevant dialogs with consumers, if they are to have any hope whatsoever of remaining part of the consideration set going forward.

We know it’s been said many times before that, traditional marketing and advertising thinking is no longer effective as consumer media habits continue to evolve at an ever quickening pace. Branding as we know it is for all intents and purposes dead, as most consumers’ first impressions of a brand are what they find in search results or what they read from other people in reviews.

As consumers continue to circumvent traditional media approaches, they are gravitating towards those media/channels that provide easy access to information, advice and recommendations, plus allow them to socialize and be entertained at the same time. In the process, these consumers are building and refining their own trusted personal networks.

If marketers want to be positioned to take advantage of this evolving opportunity, the first step is to forget about continuing to structure your organization in silos like brand, direct, digital and social marketing, and start to think about People2People marketing. If you can seamlessly integrate your marketing efforts and succeed in motivating customers not only to interact with you, but to develop a true brand relationship, you may be able to persuade them to share their personal networks with you. In doing so you will have created a powerful channel and relationship for your brand in the marketplace.

Traditional direct and database marketers will be disappointed to hear that targeting is dying too. As consumers change to pulling information as they want or need it, push marketing becomes less and less relevant, no matter how “targeted” the marketer thinks it is. No longer can you just drop an email to your house file or run a banner campaign with the simple objective to sell more products or generate more leads. You have to become part of the conversation, where they are and when they want to have it. Also, keep in mind that conversations cannot be bought either, and if they are, the community often quickly finds out and retaliates.

The new age of People2People marketers have to be experts in understanding consumer habits and expectations in this new media environment. They need to be the unbiased filter that prioritizes the media/channels and indentifies the ones that will yield the greatest ROI.

This new breed of marketer will avoid the temptation to shout messages at consumers disrespectfully or target thousands of people multiple times with generic messages and offers of little or no relevance. Instead, they will embrace techniques that cultivate genuine and open dialogue with customers, where brands quietly listen and learn, and then respond with relevant content and new features and product innovations that better match the needs of the consumer.

Marketers who embrace this new reality of People2People marketing will be rewarded by clients who not only out perform their competitors, but also deliver industry leading financial results. You may be interested to know that in July 2009, a report by social platform provider Wetpaint and analyst firm Altimeter found that:

Companies deeply engaged in seven or more social channels (blogs, branded social websites, Facebook, Wikis, ratings and reviews etc.) significantly surpassed their peers in terms of both revenue and performance”.

You may think that this is a tall order, but I know that it’s not impossible. That’s because the solution can be found in the motivations of the conversationalists themselves. After all, conversation is mankind’s natural search engine.

The above being said, the question then becomes – how do you keep the conversation going? You’ll constantly be competing with other conversations for your customer’s time and attention. You spark and fuel conversations with surveys, forums and invitations for contributions that pertain to the incremental value that your brand/product can bring to their lives. Keeping ongoing conversations fresh is where contextual research and newsletters, blogs, websites, videos and social media shine.

The remaining question is how do you monitor results and measure success? According to Susan Scrupski of ITSinsider, seeing results depends heavily on how you organize your business and equip the people who are part of it.

As you enable the conversation between you and your customers, you enter into collaborative design. Picking up information and passing it into an organization that knows what to do with it is the inflection point between an integrated marketing relationship strategy and actual business success. Taking the time to measure it in the fundamental currency of business is the final step in putting all pieces in place to win in the marketplace”.

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Rx for Ad Agencies Suffering From Direct, Digital and Social Media Confusion or Disorientation

October 18, 2009

CB067305

The opportunity is clear. Forget about continuing to structure your agency in silos like brand, direct, digital and social marketing, and start to think about People2People marketing. qIf you can integrate your marketing efforts and succeed in motivating customers not only to interact with you, but to share their personal networks with you, you will have created a powerful channel for your brand in the marketplace.


Social Media Fuels Land Grab Within Client Marketing Departments!

October 13, 2009

The exponential growth in social networking and popularity of social media, has created an incredible land grab within many internal client marketing departments. This can be both an opportunity and threat as it relates to the agency world.

In a June, 2009 survey by Zoomerang/StrongMail, marketers were asked the question, “Which marketing function owns social media within your organization?” The survey revealed that 29% of respondents said that it is shared by multiple functions. The majority of respondents however (36%) reported that direct marketing owns social media with only 9% saying that is was owned by PR and just 5% claiming to have a dedicated internal social media department.

A deeper look into what may be driving this revealed some very interesting facts. According to a recent eMarketer article, when marketing executives were asked what they perceived the benefits to be of social media, their responses were as follows:

value of social 

 81% of respondents stated that the major benefits were both brand building and CRM. 69% also believed that it was a viable recruitment tool too, with customer service close behind it at 64%.

Looking even deeper, here is how this same group of marketers answered the question, “For what reasons do you use social media?”

 resons they use sm106332

                                               

For those respondents who claimed not to be using social media, here are the responses as to their reasons why not to.

Reasons they don't106328 

 It’s no wonder that social media responsibility is shared between departments for nearly a third of marketers and very clear to see what exactly is stopping the majority of the non-users from leveraging it. Depending on how you look at it, this can either be an opportunity or a threat, whether you are an incumbent agency or a competitive agency trying to win some new business.


Goodbye Brand, Direct and Digital…Hello People to People Marketing!

October 8, 2009

 

 

person to person 2

 

Marketing communication has evolved from the early one-way media (TV, print, radio) to two-way media (Internet) and now multi-way media (social, mobile). As the lines between these channels and media are blurring so quickly, it has created an identity crisis among many agencies.

Can a direct marketing agency be effective without digital and social media skills? Can a digital agency deliver the best work without direct marketing skills? Is social media just another word for PR, or is it in fact the ultimate one to one medium?

Traditional marketing and advertising thinking is no longer effective as consumer media habits continue to evolve.  Branding is for all intents and purposes dead, as most consumers’ first impressions of a brand are what they find in search results or what they read from other people in reviews. As consumers circumvent traditional media approaches, they are gravitating towards those media/channels that provide easy access to information, advice and recommendations, plus allow them to socialize and be entertained at the same time. In the process, these consumers are building and refining their own trusted personal networks.

The opportunity for agencies and marketers alike is clear. Forget about continuing to structure your organization in silos like brand, direct, digital and social marketing, and start to think about People2People marketing. If you can integrate your marketing efforts and succeed in motivating customers not only to interact with you, but to share their personal networks with you, you will have created a powerful channel for your brand in the marketplace.

Those of you who are direct marketers will be disappointed to hear that targeting is dying too. As consumers change to pulling information as they want or need it, push marketing becomes less and less relevant no matter how “targeted” the marketer thinks it is. No longer can you just drop an email to your house file or run a banner campaign with the simple objective to sell more products or generate more leads. You have to become part of the conversation, where they are and when they want to have it. Also, keep in mind that conversations cannot be bought either, and if they are the community often quickly finds out and retaliates.

The new age of People2People agencies have to be experts in understanding consumer habits and expectations in this new media environment. They need to be the unbiased filter that prioritizes the media/channels and indentifies the ones that will yield the greatest ROI.

This new breed of agency will avoid the temptation to shout messages at consumers disrespectfully or target thousands of people multiple times (reach and frequency). Instead, they will embrace techniques that cultivate genuine and open dialogue with customers, where brands quietly listen and learn, and then respond with new features and product innovations that better match the needs of the consumer.

These agencies will be rewarded by clients who not only out perform their competitors, but also deliver industry leading financial results. You may be interested to know that in July 2009, a report by social platform provider Wetpaint and analyst firm Altimeter found that: “Companies deeply engaged in seven or more social channels (blogs, branded social websites, Facebook, Wikis, ratings and reviews etc.) significantly surpassed their peers in terms of both revenue and performance.

Future growth and success will be led by those agencies that embrace this new media environment and choose to become part of a new breed of People2People agencies. Those who remain siloed will continue to become less relevant over time and unable to deliver against evolving client expectations.

 

 

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“Socialnomics” The Fuel For Future Ad Agency Growth

September 10, 2009

Social media has created a fundamental shift in the way we all communicate. In the process, we sometimes lose media, develop new media and in some cases see traditional media adapt to the new sociology and technology. A excellent new book titled “Socialnomics” explains how social media has transformed both the way we live and the way we do business.

Yesterday I was searching through some YouTube content when I found this great video about the book that highlighted almost 40 observations about the impact of social media. Some of them might be considered predictable, but many are really eye opening. What’s even more amazing is the speed at which these shifts have taken place, as well as the sheer size and geographic impact of many of them.

When I consider all of this from an ad agency perspective, it all just seems so overwhelming, yet exciting at the same time. From a sheer speed perspective, how does any agency be it specialist or full service keep up? How do they monitor these new trends and at the same time develop the expertise and capabilities to competently deliver them. Even more frightening is the concept of how an agency can stay ahead of the changes and deliver innovation and thought leadership to their clients? without resorting to the good old default approach of smoke and mirrors.

Here are a few findings from the book that I think you will find thought provoking:

  • 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 brands are links to user generated content.
  • 90% of people who can Tivo ads actually do it.
  • 25% of Americans have watched a short video on their phone in the last month.
  • 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in readership because we no longer search out news, the news comes to us.
  • By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers, and 96% of them will have joined a social network.
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest between the USA and India. A true example of a global community.
  • The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females.
  • 80% of twitter usage is on mobile devices.
  • Email is passé’. In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing email addresses to young freshman.
  • There are over 200,000,000 blogs out there.

If you have not seen it already, please take a moment to view the YouTube video entitled “Social Media Revolution” by Erik Qualman. I think you will find it well worth your time. I know that it will get you thinking about your agency and whether you have the right plan and resources in place to take advantage of these changes in consumer behavior both now and in the near future. They are the fuel to a whole new world of opportunities for agencies who are embrace the changes and adapt accordingly.

 

 

 

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How Ad Agencies Can Help CMO’s Succeed.

September 9, 2009

CMO innovation

With an average tenure of only 17 months, CMO’s need all the help they can get, not only to succeed but to survive. There has never been a better opportunity for ad agencies to step up and take on the role of strategic partner!

There is not a CMO out there right now who has not already cut his overhead costs as deep as realistically possible. For the past 18 months or more, their game plan has been batten down the hatches and unload as much overhead as possible, as they try to survive the economic recession.

Well, the game is changing and changing quickly. The C-Suite is already shifting its focus from cost cutting to recovering market share and top-line growth. This shift is starting to put increased pressure on these CMO’s as the corporation looks to them for growth leadership.

To be successful they must be able to understand both current and potential customers better than anyone else. The next critical step is to take those insights and translate them into unique and powerful new products and customer experiences. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they must create more effective and efficient ways to market their products or services. Communications innovation is absolutely critical to achieve success and who better to provide that innovation leadership than the right ad agency?

While breakthrough product innovation is a fundamental requirement and remains an essential component of every company’s go to market strategy, there are many communications innovations that are equally as powerful and effective.  It could be as simple as innovating the customer experience, discovering new customer segments or needs, innovative pricing or new payment options or leveraging networking and building a brand following and community.  

The opportunities are out there and the time is now! Whether you are the incumbent agency or one that is looking for an opportunity to break into that new client, there has never been a better time than now. However, a quick word of caution.  Do not go rushing in without doing your homework and armed only with traditional marketing ideas and solutions. To succeed you will need to demonstrate exceptional insights, creativity and media/channel delivery innovation.

This is your opportunity to establish your rightful place as a valued strategic partner. Focus your approach on how you can help the CMO recover top-line growth and avoid the temptation to deliver another one of those presentations about how talented your agency is. Remember Radio WIFM (What’s in it for me?).

 

 

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Naked Brits Lead Current Ad Agency Communications Planning Trend

August 26, 2009

british_invasion

The days of brand agencies aspiring to be the “Lead Agency” are fast disappearing. Clients are increasingly turning to specialist communications planning agencies, to help them take a more informed approach to their integrated marketing initiatives. In many instances, the work of these truly media neutral agencies informs and directs all other roster agency assignments and work.

In the US we experienced the “British Invasion” from a music perspective during 1964-66, with bands like The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Kinks. Right now we are experiencing another British Invasion of a different sort: Brand Communications Planning agencies.

These agencies do no creative work or execution whatsoever. Some have developed very powerful planning tools/models, powered by a significant database of both quantitative and qualitative data, related to over 90 distinct marketing channels. They are channel planning experts and are probably the only breed of agencies who can honestly claim to be media neutral.  

One of the leaders of this invasion is a company called Naked Communications. A quick word of warning, do not go to Naked.com after reading this post. It will only help to put you on the radar screen of your IT and HR department for improper use of the internet. (They have two distinct websites: www.nakedcomms.com and www.houseofnaked.com). There are a number of others out there that all hale from the UK and have similarly bizarre names.

While most other agencies are out there running around claiming to be full service, fully integrated, media neutral and 360 degree agencies, specialist communications planning agencies, like Naked, are quietly and effectively taking control of more and more large advertising and marketing accounts. Early in 2008 Naked made the trade media headlines when they were awarded the Kimberley-Clark account. Take a look at what K-C said about the appointment in their press statement.

Tony Palmer, CMO at K-C, said in a statement that producing marketing efforts built around TV commercials is no longer relevant in today’s business environment. “It is incumbent on clients to take an active role in reshaping the model,” he said, adding that hiring Naked is a step in this direction. Naked’s role is to help K-C and its agency partners identify the best communications channels it can leverage, to execute specific brand programs.

Agencies like Naked usually do not replace the client’s lineup of creative and media buying agencies. Instead, Naked works like a consulting firm, advising on how to best use the roster agencies. This may cut into the revenue of traditional agencies. Kimberly-Clark, for example, did not increase its ad agency budget in order to pay for Naked’s services. Instead, the company “reallocated the spending” according to Hedy Lukas, Vice President for Integrated Marketing at Kimberly-Clark.

Not long after Naked’s appointment came the announcement from Kimberley Clark that it had decided to move a quarter of its spending into non-traditional media.

Not something a “traditional lead agency” would be likely to recommend.

 

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Client Churn Causes 70% Of Ad Agencies To Miss Their Numbers!

August 24, 2009

miss their numbers final

If your agency has previously omitted preparing “Key Account Plans” as part of your overall agency growth strategy, these recent survey findings may convince you to do otherwise!  

In my recent national online survey (Ad Agency Business Growth Strategy Survey), I found that 57% of respondents admitted to having missed their financial numbers over the last three years due to an unexpected client loss. Another 12% claimed that while they had hit their goals, the client loss had significantly impacted their overall performance for the year.  

Based on in depth analysis of the survey information, I found conclusively that failure on the part of the agency to include “key client account plans” in their agency growth strategies, was a major contributing factor. Here are some additional findings and supporting details.

50% of total survey respondents indicated that they currently do not have “key Account Plans” in place for their top 5 agency clients. Interestingly, there is a very high correlation between these respondents and those agencies that indicated they had missed their numbers due to unexpected client churn. In fact, 87% of the respondents who said they did not have “Key Account Plans” for their top 5 clients, all had instances where they missed their financial numbers over the last 3 years!

Next, I took a deeper look at those respondents (62% of total sample) who answered yes to having clients within their agency that either run at a loss or alternatively break even at best. Just over 70% of this group also answered “no” to having key client plans in place.  

Finally, I took a look at the respondents (31% of total respondents) that answered affirmatively to having a nightmare client in the agency that their staff hates to work on. In this case, 84% of this group did not have key account plans in place for their top 5 clients.

These survey findings clearly indicate that, the omission of key client plans from an ad agency’s growth strategy can have a significant impact on its financial performance. Absence of these key client plans substantially increases the risk of the agency losing a key client, as well as increasing the incidence of poor performing clients within the agency client roster.

 If you really think about it, this should come as no surprise to any of us! In the absence of a plan how do we:

  • Plan and focus the resources needed to support our clients?
  • Consistently stay pro-active and deliver innovation?
  • Maintain client satisfaction levels, keep ahead in their category and deliver incremental value?
  • Plan and execute against organic growth targets and opportunities?
  • Integrate metrics, measurement and results into our work?
  • Optimize resource allocation and management. Making sure that we do not either under or over service the account?
  • Focus resources and effort in the areas that THE CLIENT deems of value versus what the agency values?

Bottom line! Client retention and churn management is without doubt one of, if not the most important pillar of any agency’s growth strategy. Unfortunately, most agencies do not allocate anywhere near as much focus and resources to it as they do new business. Many even overlook it altogether.

My 5 pillar agency growth strategy approach enables you to consistently deliver superior agency growth and profitability.

 

 

 

 

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What Sparks An Ad Agency Review?

August 14, 2009

Ad Agency review

The most feared event for every ad agency leader is that dreaded call from a key client, informing you that they have decided to put their advertising account into review. Behind the decision are normally numerous factors, some controllable from an agency perspective and some not.

If you have been following my blog, by now you will have heard me go on about minimizing client churn ad nauseam. That’s because I consider it, without doubt, one of the most important pillars in my “Five Pillar Agency Growth Strategy” approach. Churn has to be proactively managed and supported by robust “Key Account Strategies”.

Some of the causes that lead to a review are beyond the agency’s control. In such cases there is really nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. There are others though, that fall into the controllable category and can therefore be minimized or at least influenced by agency management.

Let’s start with some examples of the uncontrollable.

  • New CMO comes on Board
  • Client company merger or acquisition (change in control)
  • Global ad agency realignment
  • Disappointing business results
  • Geographic relocation
  • Term of contract expires and regulations require it to go out to tender
  • Unprofessional behavior on the part of a client or agency staff member.

Now let’s focus on some of those that are controllable.

  • Lack of pro-active thinking and fresh ideas
  • Lack of integration of ideas. The agency works in silos versus working for the greater benefit of the client/brand.
  • Lack luster work that fails to deliver the expected results.
  • Client driven by ROI, analytics and measurement, while the agency remains focused on creative, gut feel and fails to embrace metrics and measurement.
  • Excessive turnover within the account service team leading to client dissatisfaction.
  • The need for new or additional capabilities, channels or media that the agency is perceived to or does not have.
  • Disconnect between the brand strategy and the creative execution.
  • Perceived gap in the client/agency relationship from a price/value perspective.
  • Noticeable lack of innovation and innovative thinking around the brand.
  • Agency perceived as not flexible or agile enough.

Every one of the causes listed above can help trigger the decision to put the account up for review. The biggest contributor however, (although not always stated directly), is the clients perception that the agency does not share their worries and ultimately does not care if they succeed or not.

Leslie Winthrop from AAR Partners tells this amazing story about a client company that approached her about conducting an agency review for their advertising account. On further questioning the client told Leslie that they were happy with the work and results, liked the people and enjoyed working with them. Surprised by the answers Leslie asked why then did they want to hold a review? The clients answer was simply, “Because I do not think they share my worries and it does not appear to matter to them if I succeed or not. I feel that I am out there on my own.”

Makes you think doesn’t it?  

 

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Survey Finds Ad Agency Growth Strategies Missing Critical Elements

August 13, 2009

My recent survey, targeted at senior agency leadership of small to medium size agencies, found that many were missing critical elements required to deliver consistently superior results. Over two thirds of respondents disclosed that during the last three years, unexpected client turnover has caused them to miss their budgeted agency growth goals.

The purpose of the survey was to gain insight into:

  • What tools and approaches are currently being utilized to support agency business growth and profitability?
  • Do current agency business growth strategies address five specific growth pillars? (client retention, organic growth, new business development, resource management & optimization and new capability development and cross-sell)

The response profile was very interesting. 45% came from an Integrated Agency, 40% from Advertising Agencies, just under 7% from Interactive Agencies and nearly 9% from other. (Promotion, PR etc.) It was very surprising that not one response was received from a Direct Marketing Agency.

It is apparent from the survey results, that very few of the agencies who responded have a “Comprehensive Agency Growth Strategy Plan”. Most appear to be taking a more tactical approach, implementing various initiatives on an ad-hock basis, with little to no innovation. This appears to have resulted in inconsistent growth and erratic financial performance. The survey demonstrates clearly that when certain of the key elements of an agency growth strategy are omitted, (The 5 Key Pillars) it results in a direct negative impact on their ability to consistently deliver above average results.

Please take some time to review the survey detail. I am certain that you will find it very informative.

 

 

 

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Words of Wisdom from The Ad Agency Pitch Consultants

August 12, 2009

words of wisdom 2

The other day, I came across a collection of notes I had taken during various presentations, given by some of the top names amongst pitch consultants. The tips contained in them are as pertinent today as they were then, so I decided to aggregate a selection of them in one post and share them with all of you.

  • Think very carefully before deciding to defend when your client decides to put their account up for review. On average you have only a 1/18 chance of winning, so the odds are heavily weighted against you. (Dave Beals – Jones, Lundin, Beals)
  • If you believe that the client RFP is requesting excessive information, go ahead and push back, and submit what you are comfortable with. The most important thing you can do is look at the issues within the questions and adequately address them. ( Ann Billock – Ark Advisors)
  • Does size matter? It all depends. If the business being awarded is likely to overwhelm your agency, then yes it does. If the client needs an international network, yes. It’s about horses for courses. In some instances smaller can compete with big if they are able to leverage strategic partnerships. (Hasan Ramusevic – Hasan & Co.)
  • Every agency claims to have a proprietary process or philosophy. Bottom line is that there is just too much BS out there, as the agency world drinks its own Kool-Aid. Show them ideas backed by research and validate how you intend to produce results. (Lisa Colantuono – AAR Partners)
  • Do clients who ask for it really want and buy cutting edge work? Seldom does a counter a culture approach prevail. Ask more questions and try to validate their requests. If you are still unsure, then give them one of each so you are covered. (Ann Billock – Ark Advisors)
  •  Never stretch the truth when answering an RFP. If you feel that you have to in order to be competitive then pull out. Define what you cannot answer truthfully and ask the client or consultant why you were included on the list. It might be something specific you have that interests them, in which case focus there and leave out answers where you have to. (Lorraine Rojek – RCG Consulting)
  • How do we crack the clutter with our new business prospecting? The letter should address a specific challenge or opportunity. The supporting materials should do exactly that. Support the letter with a clear and consistent message based on actionable insights. The materials should also effectively differentiate your agency brand. Simple, easy to read and direct. No coffee table books, gimmicks or tchotchke! (Leslie Winthrop – AAR Partners)
  • Never include the prospects title in your new business materials unless you know it to be accurate. Titles change all the time and often many of the compiled lists are already out of date when you use them. (Cleve Langton – New Business 3.0)

Rocket science…No. Worth remembering…Yes

 

 

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Ad Agency Creativity to Cash Flow. What Clients Rate as Important

August 4, 2009

 

Blank freeway sign 1

Ad agencies often do not realize just how important it is to have a full understanding of both the client’s business and personal goals. This often results in wrong or inappropriate ideas and solutions, leading to lost opportunities with both existing and new business clients alike.

Too often I have seen client briefs or new business opportunities come into the agency and everybody immediately jumps straight into the assignment. Everyone forgets to take the time up front, to understand the broader business opportunity and corporate goals. I know that agencies are expected to address and execute against specific strategies, but each one of those is judged and measured against how it contributes to overall company success.

Recently, Click Z held their digital marketing summit in Seattle. Their three guest panelists shared extremely valuable client perspectives about what they look for and expect from a digital agency. The points they raised were refreshing and the issues covered could affect all agencies as they attempt to balance growing the business at the same time as nurturing client relationships.

The fours key insights highlighted by the panelists:

  • Understand the overall business opportunity. Panelists stressed the need for agencies to keep the larger goals in mind.
  • Play well together. Focus on the common good of the company/brand versus competing against one another.
  • Solutions should begin with a business insight. Too often agencies jump right into creative without having any actionable insights on which to base the work.
  • Never get complacent. Sure you did a good job yesterday, but what about tomorrow.

 The importance of understanding the individual client’s personal goals also cannot be over emphasized. Where did they come from? What is their current role and breadth of influence within the company? Who hired them? What is their support base within the company? Are they a turnaround expert charged with turning the brand around? Are they a “shiny” individual where ego and peer perception is of paramount importance?  What are their past achievements and what previous work was created under their leadership?

Answers to questions like these can have a marked influence on your approach to the assignment. So next time, before rushing head long into the specific client opportunity. Why not take a moment to think about the client’s broader business and personal goals and how they might affect your agency approach. I am certain that you will find it is time well spent through a noticeable improvement in your agency new business close ratio.

 

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Ad Agency Cost Cutting Insanity

August 3, 2009

insanity

Over a decade ago on May 25, 1999, Tom Peters published his book titled “The Circle of innovation”. Two particular concepts he wrote about still have tremendous relevance to the broader advertising agency community. “You can’t shrink your way to greatness” and “Talent Based Enterprise”.

Every time I read the trade press I am blown away by the amount of commentary and news about ongoing ad agency retrenchments and cost cutting activities. Omnicom proudly announced recently that it had done an excellent job adjusting cost structures with year to date one time severance costs of $70 million. Publicis claims that “strict cost controls” (worldwide staff cuts) to some extent mitigated the impact of the ongoing economic malaise.  IPG reported that it had incurred a staggering $120 million in severance expenses related to 4100 employees, or 9% of its workforce.

What is noticeably missing from all the articles is any mention whatsoever about:

  • What the agencies are doing to improve client/agency value and strengthen existing client relationships.
  • Strengthening the talent on their teams to make them even more competitive, innovative and subsequently more successful.

I am fully aware that this is a time when all agencies could and should look for opportunities to cut out those excess resources that no longer contribute any value. This is also the time to make sure that you have the best talent on your team and that it is properly activated and inspired for competitive advantage. In essence, building what all agencies are supposed to be – “a talent based enterprise.”

Many years ago David Oglivy was quoted as saying, Our business needs a massive transfusion of talent, and talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among non-conformists, dissenters and rebels.” My guess is that most of these people were most recently let go as part of the “strict cost controls.”

In a recent blog posting, Seth Godin refers to it as the “Death Spiral” and suggests to readers, “Right this minute, if you still have some cash, some customers, some momentum… Instead of squandering it in a long, slow, death spiral, do something else. Buy a new platform. Move. Find new products for the customers that still trust you. Change is a bear, but it’s better than death.”

So which approach is your agency taking right now?

 

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