This IS The Age Of Mobile Marketing …Is Your Agency Standing On The Sidelines?

December 29, 2009

According to a recent article published by eMarketer, mobile commerce’s time has arrived. Aided by a flurry of acquisition activity, an influx of venture capital funding and growing brand adoption in the latter half of 2009, the year ahead will see mobile continue its shift toward the marketing mainstream.

 It is eye-catching when a consultancy revises a market forecast upward in the midst of an economic downturn. That is exactly what ABI Research did with its forecast of mobile sales of physical goods in North America. In January 2009 it projected m-commerce sales would reach $544 million this year, up 57% over 2008—impressive in its own right. But in late October, ABI upped its forecast, saying sales would top $750 million in 2009, a whopping 117% annual growth rate. M-commerce’s time has arrived, and it is an easy bet that sales in 2010 will pass the $1 billion mark.

 Whereas consumers once limited their mobile phone purchases to downloadable ringtones and games, today they are using their devices to buy books, apparel and other items associated with online shopping on a PC.

 As I have often commented before, this increased growth will ultimately create a need for better creative. Up until now, marketers and their agencies have done a tremendous job of recycling and repurposing creative assets from other media and channels, in an attempt to make sure that as much of the budget as possible goes into working media.

This is an opportunity for agencies to step up to the plate and deliver a better quality product while demanding more fully funded mobile production budgets.  While most creative types currently believe that mobile environments have significant creative limitations, the reality is that this is indeed not the case. The problem is that most creatives are not aware of the technologies currently available and hence what is actually possible.

 While there are currently some notable agencies out there leading the charge and creating excellent work, most seem to be overlooking the opportunity.


The Two People Most Critical To Agency New Business Success!

December 17, 2009


Is getting in the door and developing the new business lead important? “Absolutely!” However, if your follow through is lacking, all that development work and investment just goes down the drain accompanied by increasing agency new business strain. Critical to achieving new business success is a great pitch strategy, a pitch czar, a well articulated deck and a well rehearsed team! Without all of these, it does not matter how creative your agency is!

The agency pitch environment is incredibly frenetic, fraught with individual agendas and distracted by the pressures of ongoing client responsibilities and work. It is not unusual for an agency to assign pitch leadership responsibility to a senior account person, who by the way is already inundated with existing client work.

 As you have probably found out already through experience, this simply does not work. If you are serious about new business and the need to win, you have to allocate the right resources. It goes without saying that you need the “team to win” versus “the team available, however without the following two people, your chances of success are slim.


 The Pitch Czar:

It is imperative that you appoint a pitch leader that has both the responsibility and authority to lead the pitch. This person is responsible for:

  • Making all the hard decisions, their word is the last word on everything.
  • The pitch strategy.
  • Making sure that the pitch work addresses the brief.
  • Introducing as required external resources and partners.
  • Keeping in touch with the client/consultant, and constantly building the pre pitch relationship.
  • Keeping the team on track, on budget and on time.
  • Orchestrating the final presentation format, pitch logistics, leave behinds etc.
  • Post pitch follow up.


Internal New Business Coordinator:

The Pitch Czar cannot achieve success on his/her own. They need the support of an internal new business coordinator. This individual is internally focused and ultimately responsible for the day to day management of the pitch and budget management. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Development and control of the pitch deck, including the quality of the final output.
  • Keeping the pitch team on budget and delivering each step on time.
  • Implementing the agreed pitch process and ensuring everyone adheres to it.
  • Coordinating deliverables from outside resources, if any. (research etc)
  • Food and drink for pitch team during late night sessions.
  • Production of any leave behinds.
  • Researching the pitch venue and layout and determining what is possible or needed from a presentation perspective.
  • Equipment and technology required for the pitch.
  • Back-up plan for a possible technology failure.


The simple truth is that assigning senior account people who are already overloaded with existing client work is not going to deliver the results you need. In fact it will only serve to distress your pitch closing ratio and ultimately demoralize the agency. In my consulting practice I see the same mistakes being made every day. On the other hand, I also see the benefits when it is done correctly.

Forrester Research Identifies Significant Challenges For Integrated Agencies

September 23, 2009

Integrated Mktng

Integrated Marketing, 360 Degree or whatever you want to call it marketing, continues to be the topic de jour among agencies and marketers alike. Many agencies are clamoring to reposition themselves as “Fully Integrated and Media Neutral”, capable of delivering work across the full media spectrum. Forrester’s latest research suggests that most clients may not be ready for such an agency.

According to a recent survey, conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of Merkle, most marketers lack a holistic view of their customers and communicate with them in multiple silos. As a result, these marketers are unable to adopt a customer centric approach, supported by strategies focused on maximizing total customer value. A situation that is the antithesis of what most integrated agencies offer.

Organization and technology are the biggest barriers: Most marketers claim that they want to send relevant messages to customers and communicate with them in a way that improves the brand experience. More than half of the respondents reported the lack of a single owner of the customer experience, which resulted in silo’d, inconsistent approaches and misaligned goals within the organization. If such a situation exists internally, how could the marketer possibly engage effectively with an integrated agency?

Very few marketers use customer engagement as a primary factor in their communications: Only 11% of marketers said customer engagement was primary and 32% said it’s often a factor. For 20% of respondents, it is seldom or never a factor.

“We struggle to measure customer engagement. We don’t have a system to manage it, in part because nobody has a singular responsibility for managing it. Unfortunately, it’s just not a priority.” (Hi-tech company)

Only one-third employ a contact strategy:  Only 35% say that they have a contact strategy designed to deliver the right message through the right medium at the right time.

Measurement doesn’t drive budget allocation: Almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) continue to allocate budgets across marketing disciplines based on historical spending, and 56% do so simply based on planned activity. Why? –  because that’s what they do. Media mix modeling – which allows marketers to understand the incremental impact of specific media and activity – is used by less than one-third of the respondents.

Marketers are missing the point more than half the time: When assigning credit for a sale or transaction, more than half attribute the activity to the most recent touch point. If a prospect saw a TV commercial, received a direct mail piece, three emails and then searched for an item and bought it from their company, the entire credit for the sale would be allocated to their SEM efforts. Less than a third of marketers calculate fractional attribution across all activity.

All that being said, it would appear that clients, especially the larger clients are not structured in the optimum way to be able to easily engage with an integrated agency. Their internal structures tend to support the ongoing use of independent specialists focused on supporting each of the silos.

That’s probably why everyone has been chasing the Holy Grail of marketing for years now, and the chase will probably continue for years to come.




Effective Use of Voicemail in Ad Agency New Business Prospecting

September 22, 2009


Voicemail can be a very effective tool for new business prospecting when used correctly. Incorrectly used it quickly leads you to a dead end and high levels of frustration for both client and agency alike.

It’s becoming harder and harder to reach prospective clients through cold calling. Armed with defensive tools such as caller ID, personal assistants, and the dreaded voicemail box, most clients have become very adept at avoiding cold calls from agencies. According to the AAAA’s, most clients receive 8-9 unsolicited agency approaches every month. No wonder they are running for cover.

You can try calling during fringe hours to try and catch them of guard and try all the other tricks in the book. The reality is that most of your calls will go straight to the prospect’s voicemail box and, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will end up having to leave a voicemail message. However, this is not the end of the world.

Voicemail messages can be a very effective way of getting your message through to the client and peaking their interest in your agency. Sometimes, enough interest to actually get them to answer your call on your next attempt. Here are a few tips to help you deliver more effective cold calling voicemails:

  • Keep them short and do not leave one every time you call. (One new business person showed me their call log for a specific client. They had made over 150 phone calls over four months and left only 5 voicemails. She got through to the client after the fifth voicemail, secured an initial presentation and was subsequently awarded the business).
  • Develop a series of voicemails that each shares a different piece of information about your agency and how you might bring value to the client’s business. (Think of it as dropping a series of breadcrumbs for them to follow)
  • Practice leaving voicemails so that you sound confident and eloquent when the prospect listens to them. Avoid leaving confused and rambling voicemails full of Um’s. They end up being deleted within the first few seconds of playback.

Remember, clients hate receiving cold calls as much as you hate making them. So think your voicemails through before leaving them and make every one count.




Unsolicited Ad Agency New Business Mailings…Winning strategies

September 16, 2009


Depending on the size of the client company, they will receive on average somewhere between 7-8 unsolicited agency mailings/approaches every month. That adds up to between 84-96 a year. Here’s how you can make yours stand out and avoid the pitfalls.

As a result of aggressive agency new business outreach programs, clients are being inundated with agency new business solicitations on a weekly basis. As you can imagine, most of them end up either going straight into the trash can or being deleted. Breaking through the clutter has never been harder. Here are some actual client tips that should help make your agency’s efforts more effective:

What appeals to the prospective client?

  • Materials quickly demonstrated relevance to my business.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of my business and understanding of my category, market, brand and company.
  • Professional presentation, solid company with a good reputation/years of experience in the industry
  • Materials were simple, short, concise and straightforward.
  • Previous work examples and industry experience.
  • Appeared cost effective with an ability to work within a budget.
  • Relevant, remarkable case studies supported with results.
  • Creativity demonstrated by new fresh ideas and innovative use of new media and technology.

What is an instant turn off?

  • Pushy and hard core selling.
  • Materials are all about the agency and not relevant to me and my business.
  • Ignorance or lack of understanding of my business/market.
  • Nothing unique. Too generic.
  • Content is irrelevant and solicitation is poorly targeted.
  • Solicitation is too flashy, over the top or too contrived. Avoid the tchotchke.
  • Presentation is too long, too contrived and too difficult to read. Just plain poor communication.
  • It is not immediately clear to me why this was sent to me and why it might be relevant to me.

“Only pitch business you are willing to take the time to really do the due diligence to pursue. Make it less about you, the agency, and more about the client.”

Credit for reference content: AAAA’s agency search research study conducted by MillwardBrown.


Differentiate Your Ad Agency OR Get Lost Amongst The Masses!

September 15, 2009

agency differentiation

If you want your agency to succeed you have to have a compelling reason for being! Every agency inherently knows that it needs to differentiate itself from the competitors. Hell, they preach it to their clients every day. Why is it then that most agencies all look and sound alike?

There is no differentiation in claiming to be a digital agency or social media agency, filled with experts in the field. There are hundreds if not thousands of agencies out there with the same capabilities. Differentiation does come from a “proprietary agency process” that we like to tout as being unique. Clients find such claims laughable. And while great work is always of interest to clients, in and of itself it is not a differentiator. Now finally to my pet peeve. Claiming to be a fully integrated, seamless, 360 degree or full service agency DEFINITELY is not differentiating. In fact it’s not even believable, but that’s a subject for another post.

True differentiation comes from within the agency. It starts with agency leadership and the tone that they set. It’s built on internal beliefs, ideals, values and the combined capabilities of the team. It’s influenced by the type of clients you have, the nature of the working relationship that exists and the type and essence of the work you do for them. At the end of the day, it’s ultimately more about personality than capability.

My past experience has taught me that quiet often even agency staff members cannot readily articulate what differentiates their agency when asked the question. It therefore follows that if they don’t know, how do you expect clients to know, especially prospective clients. And of course it goes without saying that if you talk the talk, to be authentic you must walk the walk. If you don’t, clients quickly see through the smoke and mirrors.

Agency’s that have a truly differentiated positioning that is aligned with their business strategy and goals have no trouble growing and being successful. They are constantly making sure that staff members and clients (both existing and potential) Know who they are and what make them different.

 Those who do not or perhaps just find it difficult to maintain faith in their ideals struggle to survive. They have no reason for coming in to work every day other than a paycheck.




Social Media: Ad Agencies Just Don’t Get It.

September 14, 2009

My agency does not get it 

Social media is the antithesis of advertising. Most traditional agencies do not have the required social media skills and they struggle with how to integrate it into their overall marketing communications plans. The minority, who get it, have competitive advantage!

Awareness Networks recently hosted a webinar titled, “Social Media: Your Agency Does Not Get It…Who Does?” The speaker was Jason Falls (, a well known and respected blogger in the public relations and social media space. What makes Jason particularly relevant to the ad agency world is that he has worked with and for a host of marketing agencies.

I have listed below  a link to the podcast of the session, however before you go ahead and view it, here are some interesting highlights I wanted to share with you:

  • Most agencies tell the client that they can do anything. They then go right ahead and outsource the work. Given that the very essence of social media is transparency, agencies should either be up front with the client or invest in the capabilities beforehand.
  • He suggested a series of questions that clients ask agencies before awarding them the work. I thought you might like to know what they were, in case one of your clients was listening to the podcast:
    • What is the strategy behind your recommendations?
    • Who does the strategy
    • Does the agency have a blog?
    • Are the agencies employees on Twitter?
    • Can you share several case studies for other client work?
    • What social media mistakes have you made and what did you learn from them?
    • Who does the execution?
  • Jason maintains that ROI is easy to measure in social media, if your media programs are aligned with clear business goals.
  • The biggest challenge brands face is that there are conversations happening everywhere and most brands do not have the right people to manage social media.
  • In social media there is no B2B or B2C. It all about People2People.

I highly recommend this podcast for all agency management and new business professionals. It is especially relevant if you are thinking of expanding into social media or alternatively, currently claiming to be experts in the space without really having the ware with all to honestly deliver.