I am lucky to have a unique perspective as I began my career working on New Business at major agencies in Canada and the U.S. I have also conducted agency reviews for a number of companies including Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, and Raley’s Supermarkets. I see it from both sides of the street. I have walked on both sides of the street.
Here are some thoughts on improving your New Business efforts based on my real life experiences. This applies to advertising, public relations and digital agencies.
First, make it easy for prospects to connect with you. I constantly see a lot of little things that agencies do or don’t do that keep them from getting more New Business. I wrote a blog in late 2009 called “Why Don’t Agencies Don’t Want to Connect.”
In many ways things haven’t changed very much. Recently I was reaching out to a number of agencies and checking out their websites. Where else would clients go? I continue to see that many agencies require you to fill out a form to connect with them. This is the era of smart phones where we want instant connectivity, yet many agencies continue to want you to connect with antiquated methods.
Then there is the ubiquitous” info@ email” way to connect. I know that the majority of agencies don’t monitor those emails frequently. I have sent agencies RFP’s to “info@” and rarely hear from them.
Then there are the brave ones. The Agency Principals and New Business people who actually list their personal e mails and direct lines. Sure they have to sort through some unqualified leads but isn’t it worth it today?
Second, invest in a little PPC and organic search. Google “Advertising”,” Public Relations”, or “Digital Agencies” in your town and see if your agency appears. Are you in the top five postings? If not, you have some work to do. I am not going to say that all agency search consultants are going to go Goggle agencies but you have to remember that 80% of clients do their own reviews and they don’t have a data base of agencies.
Third, return calls from consultants. I am always amazed when I leave messages saying that I am an agency review consultant and my call isn’t returned. I don’t get it. Do they think it is a prank caller? Do they get ten calls a day from agency review consultants? My experience is that it takes about three emails or calls before I actually connect to the agency. Not every agency but, certainly a great many of agencies to my amazement.
Fourth, don’t leave it to the last minute. When I receive calls from agencies the day before the submission is due, I know that they are just starting to work on it. The client doesn’t realize that but I do. Engage with the search consultant early and often, and ask your questions early. This creates a better impression.
Lastly, the playing field for the submissions isn’t set by the Agency Review Consultant; it is set by the submitting agencies. Agencies frequently ask me what they should submit. That’s a tough question because I don’t know what is in their Treasure Box.
I do know this. Your agency’s submission will be evaluated against the bar set by the other agencies submissions. If their RFP decks are creative, well laid out, easy to read, directed specifically towards the RFP, and you send in the same old thing, the results will be the same for your agency. Disappointment. If you try to set a personal best with each submission you will win more New Business.
Hank Blank speaks to AAF Chapters on Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business and to many organizations and companies on Networking Your Way to New Business. He also conducts agency searches for clients. You can contact Hank at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can connect with Hank on Linkedin
Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank
Watch his video on YouTube on How to Rise Above the Crowd.