Ad Agency new business prospecting. What’s actually working now!

alaska-state-library-photograph-pca-44-3-15-sourdough-in-stream-panning-for-gold-skinnerThe one thing that there is no shortage of in the agency business is advice and information about how to get more new business. It’s hard to keep up with it all and even harder to decide on which advice to follow. So I thought I would share my top line perspective based on my recent and real world experiences.

  • Clear agency positioning and differentiation: It all starts here. I am not sure that we agency people realize just how undifferentiated we all are. The blah, blah, blah about truly integrated with a proprietary process has become nauseating. Take an honest look at what you excel at and make sure that you clearly define your positioning. You cannot be all things to all people.
  •  Define your value proposition: Make sure that you can quickly and succinctly articulate what your value proposition is to the prospect. If you cannot answer this how do you expect the prospective client to know?
  • Spend time building your target prospect list: Time spent here is time, money and frustration saved further down the line.
  • Target only what you can handle: My suggestion is to only go after the number of prospects that you have time to prep for and follow up. If you are waiting for the client to call you, it may be a long fruitless wait.
  • Do your homework before approaching the prospect: The days of sending generic credentials presentations to clients are dead and gone. You must do your homework, identify what issue/opportunity you can help them with, and demonstrate why you are the best agency to do it.
  • Deliver actionable insights versus analysis and observations: Clients have no use for analysis or personal observations. They need insights on which they can base their decisions and assess risk. Recently Cleve Langdon (New Business 3.0 Inc) said that insights were now even more important than the creative.
  • Innovation without the associated risk: Yes, almost all clients will tell you that they are looking for innovation. The reality is that their appetite for it is limited. This is not the time to take risks that could cost them their jobs. Whenever you can validate your ideas as best as possible to make sure that they really are viable.
  • Include metrics and results: Dashboards are in and guesstimates are out. Make sure that you design the campaign from the outset with metrics and measurement in mind. If you can, develop a Performa that can be varied by assumed response rates/costs etc. It’s far easier to sell what you can measure and prove out.
  • Show enthusiasm: Keep in mind I said enthusiasm versus desperation. This is not about the fact that you need them to make your numbers, but rather convincing them that they need you to help them succeed.
  • Follow up: You would be amazed how many agencies just do not have the tenacity to follow up. You have spent the time, made the effort, now follow up and don’t give up too soon.
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