new clients

An agency’s biggest new business waste of time

Here is a sales prospecting tip for you, agency owner: Don’t waste your time chasing after every person interacting with your content, you’ll drive yourself crazy and it’s not worth the time. Here’s why: Agencies are finally embracing the idea of being content creators.  That's the good news.  But, they're also falling into the trap of an agency's biggest new business waste of time - chasing after everyone and everything. That's the bad news. The agency's content efforts are beginning to generate some activity in the form of: Opt in lists for downloads or e-subscriptions Blog subscribers Commenters on their blogs and for some reason, many of you are drowning yourself in this data, trying to create elaborate ways to track these people down and move the conversation to the next level.  The truth is -- they just wanted your content.  That's it.  They haven't given you any indication that they're a potential buyer of your agency's services or that they have any interest in your shop at all. Could they be a prospect?  Sure.  But they could also be a college kid who downloaded your white paper on email marketing so they could plagiarize it for your Advertising 101 class.  Or anyone in between. Don't spend a ton of time with your sales prospecting at this stage.  The way you figure out if they're a prospect is to keep producing good content and always include an invitation to reach out and actually talk to you by email or phone.  But until they take that step -- they are a COLD lead at best.  They barely know who you are. Can you include some baby steps in your content?  Sure.  That might include something like: [...]

The perfect new business specialist for your agency

I work with hundreds of agency owners a year.  We spend a lot of time talking about what's working and what's not working.  If there's one common frustration among agency owners it's the hunt for the perfect new business specialist for your agency. I hate to tell you but your hunt for the new business guy or business development guru is a little like chasing the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot.  They don't exist.  In fairness, I will say that I know of one or two.  But that's it.  There are some exceptions to the rule but for the most part -- those hired specifically to sell an agency fall short and usually are fired (or leave for a better paying gig when your commission structure leaves them wanting) within 18 months. But have no fear -- there is the perfect new business specialist for your agency out there.  It's you. No one else can talk about your client's successes like you can.  No one else can ask the questions that get the prospect to say "hmm, no one has ever asked me that before."  No one else can look at their current marketing efforts and spot the places that need shoring up or could be so much better than it is now.  You can uncover their pain points because you've been in the trenches with your clients. Only a person who has grown up in the agency business and sweated it out with clients can have those kinds of conversations. This is why you - agency owner - are the perfect new business specialist for your agency. Can you arm a salesperson with a set of door opening questions?  Yes.  Can you teach [...]

Ad Agency Principals: Tired of being treated like a vendor?

<A guest post by Rosemary Breehl> Smart Ad Agency principals are getting a seat at the CEO’s table and they’re doing it by building client relationships. It’s a new day out there for all of us. Competition is tougher. There are now “ten marketing dogs chasing that one corporate car.” CEO’s today are under terrible pressure to deliver revenues, so the last thing they want is another marketing firm trying to ‘sell’ them something. In their mind, marketing is an expense and the ad agency/marketing firm is just another vendor. Agency principals have been trying to change that perception for years. Interestingly enough, now is the perfect time to do it … with a new client or even better yet, with an existing one. When times are tough, CEO’s are looking for ‘game changers’. So they are more willing to listen. In a recent interview Jim Perdue, CEO of Perdue Farms said his expectations of marketing were: “First and foremost, marketing is the keeper of the brand’s health” … he goes on to say that “the health of the brand is critical to the success of the company and … marketing expenditures are not viewed simply as an expense but rather as an investment requiring a measurable rate of return.” And yet, you’re still doing brochures for your client. You need to up your game and start thinking strategically when building client relationships. You need to become a strategic partner and trusted advisor to your client … and not an expense. As long as you are still only delivering tactics, you don’t have a chance. You must act and sound different than your competitors. So, how do you get out of that rut and position yourself [...]

Do you know your agency’s sales life cycle?

Every business has a sales life cycle and communications agencies (whether you're an ad agency, digital, PR, etc.) are no exception.  It used to be pretty straightforward -- you either chased after a prospect or met them at some networking event or got a referral but the face to face happened early on.  Today, an agency's sales cycle is 70+% done before the prospect ever reaches and even has an email interaction with the agency. Every agency needs to map out their sales funnel, understanding that the first three-quarters of it happens prior to contact.  The visual shown here is my agency's (MMG) sales funnel. (If you click here, you can see it full sized). The left side of our sales life cycle shows the prospect's relationship to the agency at the time.  It flows from I've never heard of you to I'm a customer.  The question is how do you move a potential client through the funnel when you don't even know they're out there? You use your content marketing, social media, SEO and active prospecting to capture their fleeting attention and then you begin to serve up content that demonstrates that your expertise could help them achieve their business goals. Once they're paying attention to your smarts, you also need to give them a chance to get to know your agency's culture, values and what it's like to do business with you. Now, they start to like you. That's usually when they actually initiate contact and you have a shot at actively pursuing their account. As you can see by the bottom of the diagram -- you shouldn't leave current clients out of the equation. You need to be re-earning their business every [...]

Dear Agency Owner – no one reads your agency blog because it sucks

There have been a lot of articles, blog posts, tweets and speeches of late that are all lamenting that many agencies are closing their blogs because no one reads them.  Most tiptoe around the "why" suggesting that people are getting more visual (so have a Pinterest board or have your agency get active on Instagram) or we don't read content online etc.  But what no one is saying is the actual truth: No one reads your blog because it sucks. Agencies are out there selling social media strategies to clients and embarrassing themselves back on their own website with blogs that are: Updated once or twice a month Usually about some award or client they won Breaking all of the blogging rules (no visuals, too long, badly written) Only using your own work as examples (again...beating your own drum) I think a lot of agencies jumped on the social media bandwagon (started a Twitter account, FB fan page, blog, etc.) just because it was expected but just like many of their clients -- because the barriers to entry were so low, they didn't bother to think it through or create a strategy.  And now, their Facebook page, blog or Twitter feed is like a ghost town. Here's why your agency blog isn't working: You have no strategy - you just write when you have time on whatever topic is top of mind You haven't allotted resources (time, money, staff) to sustain it You haven't built a community that will share your content You aren't looking at your blog as an opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader/expert You don't actually believe it can be a valuable asset to your business The sad thing is [...]

What’s your new business model?

Every advertising agency says they have a new business program.  Most, I've discovered... have the "oh crap, billings are slow, we need to work the phones, networking events and call some dormant clients" model of prospecting.  Over the next month, we're going to delve into advertising and marketing agency new business efforts in a much deeper way.  But on this Friday afternoon, I just want to share with you this infographic created by the folks at The List. Do you recognize your agency in one of these seven new business models?  If so -- is it the model you think is most effective for your agency or is it just the model you've fallen into our of habit, lack of planning/time etc. Bottom line -- take a look at your pipeline right now.  Is it filled with the right prospects?  Enough of them?  (click here to download PDF of infographic)