You Must Treat Your Agency Like A Client To Truly Define It

In a saturated market of lookalikes, potential clients don’t want to hire the same agency everyone else is hiring; they want something different. To stand out and provide that experience to its clientele, an agency's leaders must identify what makes their point of view special and then use that differentiator to win new business. When our agency first began this process, we looked back to past experiences with clients and the common threads of those interactions. We discovered that we often helped clients optimize their marketing spend and focus on a different target audience than they thought they needed. The more we realized how effective this approach had become, the more we learned to match our clients’ return on investment to it. Eventually, that unique point of view led to our new tagline, "Create a love affair with your customer," which tells clients exactly how we can help in ways no one else can. Dare to be different. Agencies might provide similar services, but no two agencies are interchangeable. Consider this: If your agency exchanged logos with another, would anyone notice the difference? If not, you probably haven’t established the right point of view, which could be costing your new business clients -- as well as preventing your agency from owning its niche. None of us want to compete on price alone, however. “The cheap agency” is not a differentiator anyone covets. To provide the best service for a fair price, agencies must take a stand on what they do well and what they believe in. Sometimes, that means placing clients’ needs ahead of yours. No agency can serve every client equally well. By developing a standout point of view, agencies will naturally put off [...]

Risking Business: Agencies That Are ‘Pushy’

Since the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, I’ve seen a lot of articles trying to predict the future of agencies. And I’ve uncovered a common theme: Agencies need to be better this year. They need to be faster, smarter, more digitally minded, and more client-focused. But like any New Year’s goals, it isn’t just about adding better practices; it’s about ending the bad ones, too. Unfortunately for most agencies, they’ve become desensitized to their biggest vice: pushiness. As an agency, you may think you’re just accommodating, but research showsthat clients find aggressive sales tactics to be downright pushy. What’s more, pushiness is the No. 1 thing that drives a marketing decision maker to hire, fire, recommend, or ignore an agency.  What do I mean by “pushy?” Of course, you can’t change your aggressive actions if you don’t know what they are. The same study found that people view everything from overt bragging to a lack of communication as pushy. They also define pushy agency behavior as always trying to sell something, making decisions without final approval, making empty promises, and pushing your own agenda. While these actions may help you close deals faster, they’re hurting you more than you realize, and they can actually cause major problems in the long run. Here are some consequences of assertive sales tactics: They erode trust. Brash behavior often gives off the impression that you don’t have your clients’ best interests at heart. They reduce client retention. When you turn clients off with your pushy attitude, it makes it easier for another agency to sneak its way in. They damage your reputation. The industry is relatively small, and if your client complains about your pushy tactics to friends, it [...]

Has Your Agency Lost Its Swagger? Tips for Boosting Your Confidence & Winning New Clients

The recent recession beat the life out of agencies and their owners. We were so busy begging for business and compromising on our rates that, by the time the economy recovered, we had gotten used to acting beholden to our clients. During this, we lost our swagger. Thanks to years of agency struggles, today’s clients and prospects can practically smell desperation during a pitch. To make clients hungry to work with agencies again, we have to stop begging and remind ourselves that we are worth the prices we charge. Bad Times, Good Times Many agencies went through hard times in the late 2000s. I can still remember that sinking feeling when I couldn’t save a client or convert a prospect. I always worried I was going to lose a great employee because I wouldn’t have enough money to keep him or her on the payroll. I know you remember it, too. That drop in your stomach when the phone rang, knowing it was a client about to say he’s canceling his contract or she’s closing shop. Those sleepless nights spent wondering which person you would have to lay off if things didn’t pick up soon. I always felt like the next day would be better and business would pick up soon, but I (like many of us) learned how to be afraid. I spent a long time waiting for that better day to come, and only recently did I realize that the new era has already dawned on us -- and we never noticed until now. How Agencies Get Their Swagger Back The first step toward becoming a confident agency again is recognizing that things are much better today than they were seven years ago. That [...]

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