Effectively leveraging Digital Channels to Drive Incremental Ad Agency New Business Leads!

April 7, 2010

Most ad agencies are not effectively leveraging digital channels to help drive incremental new business leads. Here are five simple steps you can implement immediately to increase your new business lead flows…

Optimize your website for SEO: Is your agency website full of flash and streaming video? Then it’s probably highly ineffective from an SEO perspective and you are probably invisible to many potential prospects conducting agency research online. Now there is new technology available that makes Flash SEO friendly. (WhittmanHart Interactive is currently at the leading edge of this technology) You now have two options to choose from. Either redesign your site with less flash or update your flash programming to be more SEO friendly.

Monitor your daily website traffic: You would be surprised how many agencies put up a website and then fail to track daily visitors to the site. Simple monitoring through Google analytics can provide you with some very useful leads. Take a look at who visited, how long they stayed, what they looked at etc. This is a very useful tool to monitor activity after a recent new business meeting, seminar presentation or capabilities presentation.

Develop and Implement an agency SEO/M strategy: When questioned on the subject, most agencies admit to not having one. Given that 100 percent of clients looking for an agency conduct online research during the process, it’s hard to imagine why this would be the case. A basic SEO/M strategy can be highly effective at generating interest and inquiries.

It’s time to become more social: A social media strategy is a must have in today’s conversation economy. If you are not involved in the conversation you are unlikely to become a consideration. And don’t think that by putting up a Facebook page, agency blog and by twittering that you have a social media strategy. You will need to implement a comprehensive approach that includes developing your content strategy and how you are going to build your following. It does not end there either…

Ongoing Social CRM: What really makes “social + CRM” work? Connecting customers/prospects, business processes, and employees. Social CRM involves multiple elements, linked together, to provide an end-to-end understanding of how your brand, product, or service is received in the marketplace and how your internal processes produce and deliver experiences that drive this reception. If you are going to reach out through social media you will need a Social CRM strategy to keep the conversation going and deliver the value exchange required to move your prospect along the sales funnel.  

   


Successful Ad Agency New Business Social Media Strategies

March 30, 2010

Just because you build it does not mean that they will come! Contrary to what you may believe, social media marketing may not turn out to be that fantastic “Field of Dreams” you were hoping for. With over 200,000,000 blogs already out there in the Blogosphere, just because you put up your new agency blog does not mean that your new business prospects will find it… Let alone read it.

 

Overnight success stories related to social media marketing are rare. Even more rare to find is an agency with an actual social media strategy. Last year my online agency survey (which included a diverse group of agencies) found that nearly two thirds of these agencies did not have a social media strategy!  

Putting up a blog, starting to Twitter and updating your Facebook page is quick and easy to do. Actually building a following/community is a totally different set of tasks and responsibilities that takes a lot of resources and time to do. Most agencies have no idea about the investment they will need to make to build an active following, beyond the nuts and bolts of getting it live on the Web.

One of the first considerations is to determine what your content strategy is going to be:

Content is still King and keep in mind that we are all creatures of habit. If there’s already an active community dedicated solely to what you are interested in communicating about, it’s likely you aren’t going to be able to move people from that community into your brand new “branded community.” In social media, people tend to avoid the loud “Here I am” type of marketing efforts in lieu of marketers who actually are interested in
building relationships with them in genuine ways.

Spend some time doing some buzz monitoring and take the time to really listen to what the data is telling you:

Try to understand how your different prospect segments consume content. One segment might like conversing on forums and message boards. Another segment might want more information, so a blog providing that information would be better suited for that segment . If you don’t dig into the
data, it’s tough to really know what your audience is looking for.

You have to actively build your following versus waiting for them to come to you:

This is an extremely important yet overlooked component of a successful social media strategy. You need to strategically integrate every tool and channel available in your arsenal to get the right people engaged. For example, consider content federation strategies if you happen to have a substantial amount worth sharing. Identify key influencers and follow those people who follow them as many will go ahead and follow you back. This can be a very effective strategy for building a large following quickly.

It all starts with a social media plan based on sound insights and leads to effective, sustainable engagement. You will know that you are successful when you are able to get YOUR prospects to share THEIR personal networks with you.  


The Top Four New Business Trends for 2010

January 19, 2010

As the advertising world slams the door on a very difficult 2009, advertising agencies are looking ahead to 2010, hoping to deliver stronger growth in the sector. What lies ahead? Nobody really knows – However here are four key trends that in my opinion are sure to make waves in the marketplace!

The End of the Digital/Traditional Agency Divide.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the imaginary line dividing traditional and digital agencies will not completely disappear. But 2010 will see the distinction blur to the point of being meaningless. The Great Race, as Forrester Research calls it, pits digital shops looking to hone their branding chops against traditional agencies adding tech skills. This will in turn lead to more digital agencies competing for (and sometimes winning) through-the-line assignments, plus more clients will be willing to choose a lead agency based on which of its roster shops comes to the table with the best idea.

Social Media Will Become Synonymous With Digital.

There is no doubt that Twitter became the Cinderella of 2009. In 2010 we will see social-media tools being treated as an integral component of the digital world as predicted by Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li :

“Social media will become “like air,” and be pretty much everywhere”.

That means publishers and marketers will use tools like Twitter and Facebook Connect to make experiences more social. More marketers will look at social as an integral part of their digital strategy, rather than a stand-alone area for experimentation.

 The Year Mobile Marketing Comes of Age

I know that I have written about this subject many times over the last year however, 2010 is certain to be the year when the mobile advertising market finally takes off.  According to a recent Adweek article, heavyweights Apple and Google are poised to face off in the key markets, with Google pouring its seemingly infinite resources into the development of the Android operating system.

The competition will open up new opportunities for marketers in the burgeoning app economy. The biggest push should come in location-based services, which hold the possibility of giving brands the chance to minutely target consumers.

Data Du Jour.

In 2010 we will continue to see exponential demand from marketers for data served up real time in a user friendly format. Agencies will be expected to have the ability to integrate data across all channels and from all sources. They will be looking for everything from data analytics, to web analytics to data modeling in support of personalized content delivery to advanced behavioral customer data and segmentation. 

A 2009 survey conducted by Unica revealed that 72% of marketers had no full time staff member devoted to data analytics. In 2010 they will solve this issue by either developing the capabilities in-house or source it from a capable agency partner.

 


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.

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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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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.


Brand Engagement…The Foundation for Agency New Business Success

December 9, 2009

The power of online brand interaction is not to be denied: A solid majority of connected consumers have had their opinion of a brand swayed, either positively or negatively, by an online experience. The same principle applies to ad agencies and the universe of marketers out there!

As we move deeper into this “conversation economy” true band engagement is becoming more and more important. Agencies must create ongoing and relevant dialogs with marketers if they are to have any hope whatsoever of becoming part of the consideration set going forward.

Agencies are consistently telling clients that they should be doing this as an integral part of their marketing communications strategy, yet many of those same agencies are not practicing what they preach. The key to success is developing enough “engagement” between your brand and your prospect to be able to make their consideration list.

Effect of "Friending" a Brand on Facebook or MySpace According to US Internet Users, August 2009 (% of respondents)

In a recent survey conducted by Razorfish (FEED 2009), an impressive 64% of connected consumers told Razorfish they had made their first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience. And friending, following and content creation spurred upticks across the marketing funnel—from raising awareness to consideration, purchase and recommendations to friends.

“Digital experiences not only build a brand, they can also make or break it. For those brand marketers still neglecting (or underestimating) digital, it’s as if they’ve shown up to a cocktail party in sweatpants,” according to the report. “Invariably, consumers will choose to converse with a savvier—and hopefully more stylish—partner.”

Remember, marketers are consumers too, and they behave the same way when it comes to decisions that affect their brands and the companies they choose to partner with.

How effective is your agency’s current brand/customer engagement strategy?



What Babies Can Teach Ad Agency New Business Executives About Prospecting.

September 1, 2009

Lisa Back2Back Head Shot

Guest post by Lisa Colantuono, Managing Partner, AAR Partners & Co-Founder, Access Confidential. “Cracking The Clutter”, what babies can teach ad agency new business executives about prospecting.

 Many new business executives in the industry know that I’m in love with a two-foot, 26lb little guy…yes, my nephew.  And if you want to see my little love, every Saturday I post a new photo of him on Facebook.  So besides getting a real work-out once a week during my babysitting session with him, I realized he also exemplified how new business executives should think about prospecting.  How?  Let me explain.

 There isn’t an agency that meets with AAR Partners that doesn’t start or end with one of the following questions, “What are successful agencies doing to crack the clutter or how do agencies attract clients’ attention?”  We often hear their answer is strictly setting objectives, developing pitch lists, determining goals and being extremely focused on categories or target markets where the agency has knee-deep experience.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inaccurate with this approach but the value of exemplifying unexpected results is often forgotten!

 Babies (like my favorites nephew) are captivated by the most unexpected results.  Adults, on the other hand, focus on the outcomes that are the most relevant to their goals.  They focus on objects and objectives that will be most useful to them.  But babies play with objects that will teach them the most!  The key…they draw on anything new, unexpected or informative.

 At AAR Partners, we receive hundreds of letters, mailers, emails, credential and collateral pieces that seem well…rather programmed, “more about me and less about you” and simply expected.  The element of surprise (or the value of exemplifying unexpected results), isn’t usually communicated.  Agencies fall into the same pattern of churning out information about the agency and often forget to be informative.  They forget to teach their prospect something of value

 Babies are captivated by unexpected results…just like CMO’s!  They need to see the value, something new or be surprised by unexpected results.  They need to know that their brand is going to attract consumers by pulling them, rather than pushing them along.  Crystallize how your agency has demonstrated unexpected and exceptional results for clients’ business, make it relevant to the specific advertiser you’re speaking to and in turn, captivate the prospect. 

 So the next time you see a baby captivated by something unexpected (or informative), remember, that’s the concept of how an agency could crack the clutter.  And the results can be rewarding for everyone.

 (AAR Partners has been managing agency reviews for the past three decades.  Access Confidential is the comprehensive new business database, putting science behind the art of new business.)

 

 

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Fill Your Ad Agency New Business Pipeline in 30 Days

August 28, 2009

new business pipeline

I was recently contacted by an ad agency new business person in search of some urgent advice. Management had requested that he submit a plan outlining how he would fill the agencies new business pipeline – in just 30 days!

Firstly, I asked if he was being serious! After all, anyone who knows anything about agency new business prospecting knows that it takes longer than 30 days to fill a pipeline, especially in the current economic environment. He assured me that he was and that any help or advice would be appreciated. These were my suggestions… Request psychiatric counseling support immediately! Just kidding.

  • If you have access to a new business list resource like Access Confidential (Offered by AAR Partners), take a look at the daily report that is generated listing promotions and new appointments etc. These developments are often indicators of impending change and opportunity. In addition, the list company often interviews the individuals listed in the report and is often able to solicit information about what type of resources they may be in the market for. I often refer to it as “chasing ambulances”. Right message, right time, right person is what you are hoping for.
  • Agency research presentations on specific subjects or other white papers. Offers to share these with targeted prospects often help to get you in the door and at least start a conversation. This can be via a one on one presentation, webcast, download or any other channel.
  • Demonstrated agency expertise in a specific category or demographic. If your agency has exceptional expertise with proven results in a specific category or demographic, a targeted outreach program offering to share your insights/expertise can often uncover some opportunities.
  • Targeted outbound video emails using StreamRight technology. Streamright (www.streamright.com) offers an easy to use technology platform that allows you to deliver interactive video through email. This allows you to send out a large number of prospect emails with an embedded video. Through their web based dashboard tool, you are able to monitor who opened the email, who viewed the video, how long they viewed if for, how often they viewed it and if they forwarded it on to a friend. It can also notify you the sender the second that the prospect opens the video to view it. What’s great about this technology is that it allows you to send high volume emails and identify and follow up on only those who demonstrated an interest. You can also test subject lines, different video edits and content at the same time. The best part about it is that it is relatively inexpensive.
  • Speaking opportunities and conference attendance. Look for any short term industry conferences to attend or possibly speak at. Quite often organizers get let down by speakers at the last minute and if you have a canned presentation you can sometimes get in at short notice.
  • Personal referrals. Immediately leverage any personal contacts or referrals you have access to.
  • Strategic partner/vendor clients. If you have a strategic partner or vendor where your services don’t overlap, identify 2-3 clients of their clients that they are comfortable introducing you to. Then you can reciprocate.

If you have additional ideas or suggestions please feel free to respond and share them with me. I will publish your comments for other readers benefit.  

 

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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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How Critical Is The Website To My Ad Agency’s Success?

August 25, 2009

 

critical website

While the design and usability of your ad agency website is important, it really makes no difference at all if no one is visiting it!

Last week I received an email from the principal of a small agency who is currently in the process of re-branding and re-launching their agency. The purpose of her email was to ask me what other agency websites I could recommend as good examples of best practices. A very reasonable question but, under the circumstances I fear the wrong question altogether.

There is no doubt that most agency websites would benefit from being less complex, easier to navigate, and having less flash among many other things. However, before even getting to the website design and functionality, what about those more important issues like content, message, differentiation, positioning, relevance, targeting etc.

There are so many websites, micro sites, blogs, Interstitials etc. online that the old adage of “if you build it they will come” just does not apply. That’s because they won’t. There seems to be this perspective that borders almost on panic and paranoia, that as an agency you must have a website and it had better be a creative masterpiece. After all, can you really consider yourself an agency if you do not?

The reality is that you will probably be better served spending your time and money working out the best way to deliver value through content and start a dialogue with your target clients through that. Do you have any idea just how many agency websites there are out there that give a laundry list of capabilities, claim to be full service and integrated and have a plethora of client work on show supported by far too much flash? It’s enough to make most clients yawn. In fact, the average number of “real” visitors to an agency website that might have even the most remote possibility of becoming a client is minuscule at best.

My suggestions are:

  • Agencies start thinking about how they could become involved in the environments clients already frequent, versus expecting them to come to theirs.
  • Spend your time and money defining who you are, what you do really well, and targeting those clients who are most likely to be interested in your story.
  • Move your approach away from talking about you and what you have as an agency, to the client and what you know about them and how you can help them succeed like no other agency.
  • Look at providing value through content and starting a dialogue with your target clients, versus creating a self serving online environment that does little else than boost your own self esteem.

Success for ad agencies in the digital world requires more than just having a great website. It requires an informed digital strategy that is well executed. Ultimately the value of your website is determined by how good your marketing communications strategy is.

     

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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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MORE Words of Wisdom From THE Ad Agency Pitch Consultants

August 18, 2009

words of wisdom 3

My post last week titled “Words of wisdom from THE ad agency pitch consultants” generated both a high level of traffic and numerous requests from readers asking for more of them. Here they are:

First, I thought I would share with you a piece of editorial that you may find both interesting and surprising. In recent discussions many of the pitch consultants have shared the fact that they are getting increasingly involved in non-advertising related pitches. For many years these consultants have been primarily involved in the larger ad agency reviews with very few direct, promotional or interactive type assignments.

Well, the tide has turned. Many of them are now reporting that they are being more frequently retained to conduct both AOR searches, as well as agency searches, for large stand alone projects. (Across a wide range of categories) So while in the past their comments may have been more pertinent to the ad agency fraternity, today they are increasingly pertinent to a much broader group.

  • When you read in Ad Age or any other trade journal that an account has gone into review, DO NOT send a “Pile of Stuff” to the pitch consultant handling the review.  It just gets thrown in the corner and piles up with all the other unsolicited submissions.

         If you are going to send something in, make it short, to the point and make          sure that you demonstrate value. Keep in mind that by the time you read about it in the trades, you are probably too late. The review is most likely     too far along already to include a new agency. (Leslie Winthrop, AAR          Partners)

  • The number one pitch killer is a CEO who talks too much and talks about irrelevant matters. Closely followed is a perceived lack of passion on the agencies behalf and the third is a disconnect between that strategy and the creative execution. (Hasan Ramusevic, Hasan & Co.)
  • “We just received an RFP that seems promising, but we can’t ascertain what the potential revenue and scope is?” Ask the consultant or client to try to define it. If it is not forthcoming consider this a red flag. If you start out not knowing, you will probably have the same issue all the way through the relationship. (Ann Billock, Ark Advisors LLC.)
  • “If the agency brief says that you should have your day to day team present in the pitch, what do you do?” If the team members concerned are proficient presenters, then you have no problem. If some are not, do not let them pitch. You will need to compromise as you should never take a weak presenter to a pitch. In this instance support those team members who are proficient presenters with some of your stars. Your objective is to win and sometimes in order to do that you have to break some rules. (David Beals, Jones, Lundin, Beals)
  • NEVER go over your allotted time in a pitch. Not only is it bad manners and disrespectful, it shows that you have not rehearsed. Always rehearse and make everyone rehearse, even those who claim that they can “only be real on the day”. Insist they do it. In addition, whatever number of slides you have, cut them in half. Make every word count and make sure that you engage the clients. (Cleve Langton, New Business 3.0)

 

 

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Two Thirds of Ad Agencies Have No Social Media strategy!

August 17, 2009

Social media strategy

In my recent national online survey of small to medium size ad agencies, a staggering 61% of respondents said that their agency did NOT have a social media strategy. This finding highlights just how poorly prepared ad agencies are from a digital perspective.

Right now, social media is probably the hottest topic of discussion and interest among both clients and agency alike. Most clients are looking for someone to help them make sense of the social media space, and how best to embrace it from a business perspective. They know that they should be involved but are just not sure how to approach it.

The agency world is well aware of this. Almost every agency I talk to or read about, is claiming to be either a social media expert or at least competent in the space. My question is how can all these agencies either be experts or competent practitioners, when almost two thirds of them have no social media strategy for their own agency? They appear to be talking the talk without walking the walk!

All a savvy client has to do to find out how adept a particular agency is at social media, is go online and take a look at what they are doing from an agency perspective. Social media is such a transparent medium that it does not take much effort at all to expose misleading claims. As I pointed out before in one of my earlier posts, if your agency is going to claim to be a social media expert, then make sure that you really are.

The bottom line is that whether your agency wants to provide social media services to clients or not, you still need a social media strategy to help market your own agency. Traditional methods and approaches are proving to be less and less effective every day. Agencies of all types need to start creating a following and providing client value through both listening and participation.

Michael Gass ( Michael Gass Consulting) is a true social media expert with an enviable track record. Not only is he an expert but he is also an industry authority on leveraging social marketing techniques to promote all types of agencies. His blog (www.fuelingnewbusiness.com) is probably one of the best, if not the best social media resource for agencies of all disciplines.

If you currently do not have an agency social media strategy, do not know how to begin or where to start, and need a turnkey solution that will get you up and running in the shortest time possible, talk to Michael. You will not regret your decision to do so.

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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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