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.  

   

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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?