Already missed your Q1, 2010 new business targets?

December 1, 2009

 

 

If you did not start your 2010 new business preparation and prospecting activity back in at least September of this year, you have probably already missed your Q1 new business numbers for next year!

 Back in July of this year I published a blog post entitled “Ad agencies…2009 is over. Focus now on 2010”. I know it seemed far too early to be thinking about next year, when most of you were still stuck in the trenches fighting to deliver on current year targets. The reality is however that it was not too early at all.

This time of the year is normally characterized by missed new business targets, disappointed management and the start of the usual end of year agency new business professional musical chairs.

 If you are indeed just starting your 2010 new business planning and prospecting activity now, your efforts will probably have little to no impact on the first quarter of next year. The prospecting work undertaken during the last 3-6 months of this year will determine your success (or not) in the first part of the New Year.

 If you find yourself in this position here are my suggestions as to what you might do:

  • Do not delay any further, start your planning immediately.
  • Communicate with your agency management team and let them know that you may well be behind the eight ball. (It’s better to be upfront than wait for the surprises and the resultant disappointments).
  • Review your Q1 targets for 2010 against your current pipeline and activity. Be honest with yourself and realistic.
  • If necessary adjust your Q1 targets accordingly. (DO NOT just push numbers around. That means don’t just move the dollars to later in the year, keeping the same overall target. You may just be arranging a stay of execution.
  • Execute against your plan, track your progress and keep lines of communication with your management team open.

 

 

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Agencies Slow to Harness Social Media For New Business Prospecting

November 23, 2009

According to a recent article written by Andrew McMains of Adweek, most agencies have a presence on social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, but infrequently use them to market themselves or pursue client prospects, notwithstanding the fact that the more traditional approaches are not working.

A recent survey from RSW/US and Second Wind, found that nearly three-quarters of the 212 agency leaders polled in the online survey are connected to LinkedIn, 66 percent to Facebook and 56 percent to Twitter. But when asked how frequently they use each, the majority said no more than once a month. For example, 47 percent conceded that they never tweet, 7 percent said they tweet less than once a month and 4 percent tweet just once monthly.

The findings were similar for blogs, with 56 percent of the respondents saying that their agencies have blogs, but only 6 percent use them daily. A whopping 66 percent indicated that they blog no more than once a month.
And while 58 percent of the agency leaders pointed to LinkedIn as the social media tool they employ most often in account prospecting, only 4 percent use any type of social media “often” in this context, compared to 22 percent who “never” do.

The survey, which was conducted last month, provides yet another illustration of agencies not practicing what they preach to clients for the marketing of their brands.  This  “cobbler’s son” syndrome is also evident in everything from Flash-heavy, information-poor agency Web sites to shops neglecting to buy sponsored links to their names on Google.

Interesatingly, these findings are consistent with the online survey I conducted in July of this year.

Nearly two thirds of agencies said that they do not have a documented and active social media strategy. This confirmed just how poorly prepared agencies are from a digital perspective.  While most are actively out in the market trying to convince clients that they are indeed social media experts, they themselves have not embraced it as a critical component of their own marketing communications mix. Notwithstanding the fact that the more traditional approaches are not working.

On a side note, even more surprising was the fact that of the agencies who responded, well over half admitted to not having a documented and active SEO/M strategy. A receipe for disaster when you consider that in a recent survey of C-Suite executives, 74% of the respondents rated the internet as a very important source of business information and the fact that 100% of clients researched online 100% of the agencies that it intended to invite to a pitch.  Search engine marketing is a fundamental component of internet marketing and even today, still garners the bulk of a clients interactive marketing dollars. Many ad agencies are missing a critical part of the communications puzzle in this instance.  

It has never been more important for agencies to introduce innovation into their agency marketing initiatives. Building a following, creating dialog and listening to customers through social media techniques, are crucial to ongoing agency success.

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Ad Agencies Need To Learn To Say, “That’s Not What We Do”

November 16, 2009

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In a recent post on Seth Godin’s Blog, he suggests that successful organizations spend a lot of time saying, “that’s not what we do”. He believes it’s a requirement, because if you do everything, in every way, you’re sunk, and I agree.

 He goes on to say that these companies achieved their success by standing for something, by approaching markets and situations in a certain way. Sure, Nike could make money in the short run by licensing their name to a line of wines and spirits, but that’s not what they do.

 “That’s not what we do,” is the backbone of strategy, it determines who you are and where you’re going.

 Too many agencies put themselves in a position where they chase every new business opportunity that comes along, even when they know that they do not have the required capabilities to be successful. Just because you claim to be a full service, 360 Degree agency, does not make your agency competent, let alone an expert in every discipline.

 Ideally, you should ask yourselves if you really have the experience and expertise to address the RFP without reverting to smoke and mirrors?  Even more importantly, ask yourselves if you are really able to deliver the quality of work and results required in order to help the client be successful. If the answer is no, then take a pass and wait for something more suitable.

 The Why imperative:

On the other hand, never use “that’s not what we do” as an excuse not to adapt to change when opportunities come along. In this instance, people in the organization should not forget to ask: “Why?” If the only reason you don’t do something is because you never did, that’s not a good reason. If the environment has changed dramatically and you are feeling pain because of it, this is a great reason to question yourself, to ask why.

 Seth goes on to say that the why factor is really clear online. Simon and Schuster or the Encyclopedia Britannica could have become Google (organizing the world’s information) but they didn’t build a search engine because that’s not what they do. Struggling newspapers could have become thriving networks of long tail content, but they chose not to, because that’s not what they do.

 Maybe Cliff Freeman & Partners could have averted their recent demise if only they had embraced the “Why Imperative”.  They missed the opportunity to leverage their rich creative history and reputation while morphing themselves into a leading edge person2person agency.

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Effective Ad Agency New Business Prospecting In A Conversation Economy

November 10, 2009

 

conversation economy images

The new era of social networking has created what has been described as a “conversation economy”. Agency new business professionals need to change from trying to sell agency capabilities and start marketing conversations. To do this effectively your agency needs a conversation strategy.

Marketers are starved for time and already engaged in many and varied conversations. With over 200,000,000 blogs out there, jump-starting new and meaningful conversations with targeted prospective clients is the big challenge for agencies today. Just building a website, writing a blog, being on Twitter or posting videos on YouTube, doesn’t mean sufficient prospects will find you organically, much less take the time and energy to converse with you.

Having the right conversation strategy addresses two key issues: What meaningful content will attract sufficient conversations with the right people? And, how will you jump-start conversations and keep them alive?

According to Marsha Lindsay, the CEO of Lindsay, Stone & Briggs:  “Even if people know there’s an opportunity to have a conversation with you on Twitter or your blog for instance, you can’t expect them to engage given all the other demands on their time. You’ll need a strategy that both gets them to know you exist and care so much that you exist, they’ll become intrigued about conversing with you. This requires a strategy that integrates search optimization, media, message and contributions of content from the marketers themselves”.

“The right strategy begins with the end in mind: What message can work across multiple platforms and be scaled so quickly and broadly it can drive sufficient interactions to support your business model?”

A multimedia mix framed to spark conversations requires a compelling message concept that can work across a multimedia platform. Its foundation has to be far more than a one-time new business outreach; it must be a message strategy that connects the agency’s brand meaning with search habits and accommodates ongoing contributions that can range from casual conversations to marketer-generated content.

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

For those agencies who get their conversation strategy right, marketers will take over the conversation for you, making your new business development more efficient, and making you a genius in your new role as chief conversation officer.


Stop Blowing Your New Business Opportunities and Win More Now!

November 3, 2009

How many races does a second place horse win in their careers? The answer is none! If you want to win, you have to have to have a winning strategy and be prepared to put in the required pre-race preparation. Successful ad agency new business development is no different.

 These guidelines are simple but effective. In fact, I guarantee you that if you follow these recommendations, you will improve your new business success rate significantly.

 

 Blown Opportunity

As you read what I have to say below, you may find yourself saying – “I know that”, and you probably do. However, the question is – are you putting it into practice? Based on my recent experience with a number of agencies, my guess is that you are not. If you were, you would not be having issues with delivering adequate new business leads for your agency and winning new business pitches.

  • Make sure that you have a targeted list of strategic new business target companies. While chasing ambulances (chasing after opportunities that just happen to pop up) is an accepted tactic of agency new business development, it cannot deliver consistent and sustained growth. You have to take the time to identify what categories make sense for your agency and then which specific companies you want to go after.
  • Do your homework and invest in research.  Having identified your targets, do not just start picking up the phone or sending them credentials documents. No client is sitting there every day just waiting for another agency credentials mailing. Do your homework on the category, the company, the competition, the consumer or customer and the industry trends and forecasts. Make sure that you know what you are talking about and actually have an informed point of view and insights/information, that would be both interesting and of value to the target prospect.
  • Throw away your “capabilities presentation deck”. Can you imagine me arranging a meeting with you at your office and then coming in, sitting down and talking about myself for an hour while you listened? How long do you think it would be before I lost you? Create your deck around them and their business and use your case studies to highlight how your capabilities and experience are relevant to them. Engage them and get them talking about their business. Its not supposed to be a lecture, but rather a discussion.
  • Create an ongoing communication plan. It is seldom that you will be given an assignment during your first meeting. Make sure that you create an ongoing communications plan that is effective but not intrusive. The key element for success will be relevance, simplicity and added value.
  • When you finally get an opportunity be sure to assign the team designed to win, and not the team that’s available at the time. When you get that long awaited opportunity, make the most of it. I don’t believe that you have any idea how often the agency assigns “the team available” due to existing client demands and pressures. If you are going to do this, don’t pitch!!! You are just setting yourself up for failure. If the opportunity was important enough to chase after and you feel it is the right opportunity for your agency, play to win. Assign the best team you have in the agency to pitch it. If you don’t you will ultimately only disappoint yourself and increase your new business strain.
  • Rehearse, Rehearse and Rehearse. Too often the pitch team is still trying to pull the deck together in the late hours the night before the presentation. No time to check for spelling and other mistakes. No time to make sure that it flows, sounds like one voice and tells a story, and most importantly no time to rehearse. Do yourselves a favor and never make this mistake again. Set your timeline and have a pitch coordinator ensure you adhere to it. Make sure you give yourselves enough time to do at least 2 run throughs, preferably three. The first just helps you work out the major issues and gaping holes. The second allows you to think more about the presentation and how you deliver it versus fixing the deck. By the third time you are starting to get comfortable with your content and your delivery.
  •  Never go over time. Always leave 20-30 minutes for questions and make sure that every presenter (not too many of them though) engages the audience and gets them involved. If you finish the presentation at the end of your allotted time and there was no interaction during the presentation and no questions after it…you have just lost the business.
  • Close your presentation with a succinct hard-hitting summary and ask for the business. Show your enthusiasm and passion and demonstrate how much you want it, however, avoid preaching, groveling and begging. It’s tends to be unbecoming, ineffective, annoying and embarrassing to both sides. Send your thank you note within 24 hours and take that opportunity to succinctly reinforce why your agency is the right choice.

Agency new business does not need to be as hard as it often is. As I said at the beginning of this post, if you follow these simple guidelines I guarantee you will significantly improve your success rate with new business development.

 

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Social CRM Is The New Driver For Ad Agency New Business!

October 22, 2009

Social CRM is the new currency in ad agency new business. Influential clients are forcing a convergence between CRM and PR, making tracking what is being said and by who a vital component of your new business strategy.

In a recent survey conducted by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, marketers were asked the question, “For what reason do you use social media”. While 82% of respondents said that brand building was there number one reason, 60% indicated that personal networking was the second most important reason, with customer service a distant third at 32%.

 Social graph

The very marketers that we agencies target are telling us that personal social networking is an extremely important activity for them. Why then do so many agencies ignore social networking when it comes to their own new business prospecting?

Ad agencies should be out there listening to marketers, using the available tools to track all relevant conversations, identifying who the influencers are and starting to build a dialog and ultimately a relationship development program. Many prospective and existing agency clients are active right now sharing their opinions with others through social networking channels. Some of the more enthusiastic individuals have become evangelists, establishing a significant sphere of influence in the market place. Barry Judge, the CMO of Best Buy would be a perfect example of such a marketer.

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 prospective 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 social business strategy and actual business success. Taking the time to measure it in the fundamental currency of business — which as Susan says is “currency” — is the final step in putting all pieces in place to win in the marketplace.

This convergence between PrR and CRM makes tracking who is saying what and developing an ability to respond directly a must have skill. By efficiently organizing and strategizing your responses, you can use this information to guide your social web program and the evolution of your business itself.

That’s powerful!

 

 

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

October 18, 2009

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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.