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The Most Important Principle of New Business Pitching

I learned the most important lesson about new business pitching from an unlikely source for a man in my business: record producer Jimmy Iovine. In 2013 I was a proud dad sitting in the audience at the University of Southern California’s commencement ceremony. The keynote speaker was famous music producer and co-founder of Beats headphones, Jimmy Iovine. He told an unforgettable story that I’ve applied to sales conversations ever since. As I remember it, Jimmy described his start as a sound engineer working on an early Bruce Springsteen album. After working on Born to Run with producer Jon Landau, he was asked to work on the follow up album, Darkness On the Edge of Town. He was tasked to find the right drum beat for a song, and it wasn’t an easy job. After spending six weeks working around the clock trying to get the sound that Bruce had in his head actualized with instruments, Jimmy became frustrated. Bruce wanted a specific sound that he had trouble describing, and Jimmy was failing time after time at delivering what the Boss was looking for. No matter what they tried, it wasn’t working. Bruce kept rejecting the work, which left Jimmy feeling disrespected and on the verge of quitting. When All Seemed Lost, A Pivotal Moment It was then that a pivotal moment took place: Bruce’s manager looked Jimmy straight in the eye and said something to the effect of, “you go back there and say to Bruce ‘I’m here to support you. This is not about me. It’s about the album.’ You will have a friend for the rest of your life.” Jimmy swallowed his pride and did just that. In the end, Jimmy never nailed [...]

Can You Keep A Secret? Nondisclosure Agreements in the Agency-Client Relationship

Creative agencies such as marketing firms, website developers, and advertising and design groups can often be reluctant to approach the issues of confidentiality and intellectual property rights ownership with prospective business clients. Those who set agency policies may feel that asking for a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is too off-putting during business development discussions – as if bringing up such matters might sully the burgeoning trust that is being established in the working relationship and create an uncomfortable tension. Others feel that such agreements aren’t actually enforceable (yes, they are), or that a prospective client will always refuse to sign them (some will sign, some won’t). While some of these concerns are well founded, there are good reasons why creative agencies should still pursue a nondisclosure agreement. Let’s take a look at three of those reasons, below. Three Reasons Your Agency Should Utilize a Nondisclosure Agreement First, a nondisclosure agreement sends the professional message that the Agency respects the confidentiality of all parties involved. Integrity always makes a company shine brighter, don’t you think? How can an NDA protect everyone? Simply make the confidentiality provisions mutual so that both the client and the Agency are protected. In this way, the Agency’s client feels valued and is also subconsciously reminded that he or she is working in a private relationship. Secondly, an NDA offers a convenient opportunity to address rights ownership issues in writing prior to a pitch, proposal, or a new business discussion. Many agencies worry about protecting their intellectual property during the new business process as well. A mutual nondisclosure agreement can include helpful language about the Agency’s rights to the concepts and work it discloses, prior to actual engagement by the client. Thirdly, a [...]

The 5 Most Common Legal Mistakes in Agency New Business – and How to Fix Them

The agency new business process is, for most agencies, exciting and stressful at the same time. While your team is focused on the thrill of a potential “win,” and what that could mean for the agency’s fortunes, it’s probably equally under stress about meeting deadlines, putting forth your best efforts for the prospect, and keeping other clients happy too. Jody Sutter of Sutter Company and I recently addressed the challenges of new business and negotiations in a web clinic for agencies organized by Filament: “Don’t Leave Money on the Table – Negotiating Client Contracts From a Position of Strength.” While you’re navigating this process at warp speed, it’s easy to make an oversight or misstep that could cause bad legal consequences or financial loss for the agency. Don’t let this happen – be aware of the most common legal mistakes agencies make during their new business efforts, and how to fix (or avoid) them. 5 Legal Mistakes In Agency New Business and How to Fix Them Mistake #1: You don’t protect the Agency’s intellectual property during a pitch or discovery session, or in your proposal. Fix It: Sometimes it’s a valid business decision to allow the Client to own IP in pitch materials, spec creative or proposals – either because the Agency negotiated payment for it, or because it’s a required “ticket” to participate in the opportunity. But make it an intentional decision. Unless you’ve agreed with a prospective Client that it will own the Agency’s pre-engagement IP, use a Nondisclosure Agreement that protects the Agency’s ownership position. Absent that, at a minimum include IP ownership clauses in your proposal and pitch assets, and use copyright ownership notices on these materials and any spec creative [...]

How Do Advertising Agencies Get New Business with John Heenan

If there’s any one “system or process” that agencies really struggle to put into place and consistently execute on – it’s agency new business development. You know you need to do it. You know your business literally depends on it. And yet, you let client work and other fires steal your attention from this mission critical aspect of owning an agency. But, how do advertising agencies get new business? My podcast guest John Heenan and I had an amazing conversation about getting back on track and making sure that new business is no longer an afterthought. He has spent time on both sides of the aisle, on the client side with Sony, and Philips and Uniden and on the agency side as CMO and new business leader. He can show you how to find those great clients and make your process work much more efficiently and effectively so you can implement your agency new business plan both consistently and well. Let John and I help you flesh out an agency new business plan of attack that you can stick to with:   The experiences John had on the client side that led him to working on matching up agencies and clients Why cohesive culture throughout the agency matters for clients How do advertising agencies get new business Why you must treat your agency as your #1 client Crafting the first impression that leads will have of your agency The importance of getting crystal clear on what your agency is selling Director of Delivery: an important role inside modern agencies to make sure agencies deliver to clients Why agency owners need to get out of the day-to-day and focus on new business What John does differently to [...]

The Importance of Chemistry in Business with Bob Sanders

What do CMOs and other decision makers say is the final decision point when it comes to hiring an agency? Chemistry. Many agencies believe that chemistry is not really in their control but actually, there are definitely some things you can do to connect at that level. In a recent podcast, I had a conversation with Bob Sanders from the Sanders Consulting Group and we talked about the importance of chemistry in business, the influence you can have to make your new business meetings more productive, close faster and with much more success, every single time. Bob and his team focus on creating chemistry with a prospect that can help you walk into that new business process in a better position. In this podcast, Bob will unlock the secrets of chemistry by showing you: how to understand yourself, your agency and then figure out how to relate to others how to build a concrete system that drives new business and generates leads how to use clear-cut methods for a productive first meeting with new clients that lead to the next meeting the simple things you can do each day to achieve your goals how to adjust your relationships to match your client’s personalities. Bob Sanders is a powerhouse in the marketing industry. He has previously worked with Agency Management Group, a firm that specialized in the operations, finance, and technology consultations for multinational agencies around the world. Since then, he has become the leader of Sanders Consulting Group, a leading consulting firm specializing in helping agencies implement best practices faster and more effectively. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/bob-sanders/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or [...]

New Business Prospecting & Making Your Agency Attractive to Prospects with Chuck Meyst

As agency owners, the topic of new business prospecting is one that’s always on your mind. How do you do it in a way that’s different from every other agency out there? Is there a better way?  Can you truly differentiate yourself?  Who is your right fit client? The value in finding the right prospects for your agency is invaluable, both in terms of time and money. Chuck Meyst understands the importance of finding that match and has spent the past 20 years perfecting the matchmaking sales connection between agencies and clients, which is why I was eager to get him on our Build A Better Agency podcast. Chuck shared his expertise that comes from years of experience working with agencies and their clients. Some highlights include: how a clear focus of your goals and priorities can create something of value for your client and create a better match between you and your client how the word “sales” is not something to fear, but something to embrace, and how to create maximum impact from it how agencies make themselves valuable and different by being good listeners and asking pertinent questions to their clients how to make your agency available for potential matches at his online tool, AgencyFinder without adding extra work. Chuck Meyst has been in sales all his life, from his childhood bike route to CEO and founder of AgencyFinder.com, a matchmaking service for agencies. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/chuck-meyst/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.   If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of [...]

Why Getting New Business Doesn’t Have to be a Mystery with Peter Levitan

I don’t care how big or old your agency is — you want to win more new business. If I could bottle business development success — I’d be a billionaire. Honestly – getting new business for your agency is not as mysterious as we make it out to be.   There is a methodology that works. But it requires work. That’s why agencies struggle. They wrestle with being disciplined enough to do the work consistently. That’s why I knew I needed to get Peter Levitan on the Build a Better Agency podcast. Peter’s book, Buy This Book, Win More Pitches, is a brilliant read on how to get your agency noticed and pursued by clients you’d love to work with. Peter has spent his career building successful brands, digital technologies, publishing and advertising environments, and highly effective marketing programs for Fortune 500 companies. He has 30 years of experience running Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, his own Portland Agency, and as the CEO of two Internet start-ups. On the podcast, Peter and I talk about truly differentiating your agency, how successful agencies prospect and what you need to do right now to get your new business program in high gear. We also delve into personas and how inbound has changed the agency new business model. You’ll probably listen to this one more than once when working on getting new business. Peter’s straight to the point style and 30 years of success in the field success make for an incredible interview. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/peter-levitan/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web. If you’d rather just read the [...]

Hey agency owner – want a no fail agency new business tactic?

One of the biggest issues that agency owners and other key staff that are charged with agency new business face is getting on the radar screen of their prospects. This is where a small business marketing technique could come in handy. Read on for more. Even when you have the experience, knowledge and chops to help a prospect move their sales needle or accomplish whatever they're trying to get done – it’s tough to get their attention long enough to be noticed. That’s even more of a challenge for agencies that don’t have a big marketing budget or exist in a crowded, competitive landscape.  Which by the way, is all of you. That’s where some psychology can be incredibly helpful. One thing that is almost universally true about us humans is that we are incredibly flattered when someone thinks we have something of value to offer in the way of experience, knowledge, expertise or hard-earned wisdom. And that, I believe, is the door we need to open if we want a prospect’s time. For this small business marketing technique to work, I think the following needs to be true about your agency: You/your agency has a niche/specialty in which you have a great depth of expertise You have some outlet (website, blog, podcast, newsletter) in which you share that expertise without a sales pitch or being self-serving You have a genuine interest in the people you serve and a passion for helping them in your unique way with whatever you do/sell You are willing to commit to working on agency new business on a consistent basis If that’s you, read on. Make a list of your ideal prospects and their influencers. Who would you most like to serve and are the people/companies that you [...]