We all know things change. Over 75% of marketers believe our business has changed more in the last couple of years than in the past 50. The speed of change continues to accelerate, and there’s no telling where our future clients will be in the next two years. What hasn’t seemed to keep pace with the change is how advertising agencies go about business development. And that is one reason agencies aren’t growing like they used to.
If your target moves you have to follow otherwise, you’ll be shooting at the air, hollowing at the moon, spitting into the wind. For example, many agencies and consultants rely on frequent and persistent cold calling. Only 1.5% of marketers say that a cold call is acceptable. And only 6% want something in the mail, yet the vast majority of us continue to call and send. Conversely, over 75% values a referral when they need a new agency yet so few agencies are leveraging referrals. Our customer has redefined our approach. Are you paying attention?
I respect your time
I will interrupt you – really? The era of disruption is over. Time is increasingly rare as we are all challenged to do more with less. Busting in on a marketer, interrupting their schedule, stealing precious time away from urgent priorities is not a good way to start a relationship. In fact, it is the worst way. Everyone, regardless of profession, hates to be interrupted. So why do we think we are any different. A relationship that begins with respect makes it possible to continue so that the prospect can discover whether what you offer is of value or interest so you can get to the next step. Like my mother always said, if you interrupt me again you will go to your room.
This has worked for others
‘I know what you need’ has been an assertion we push right from the start. I’ve got your solution. You’ve never thought about this before. Wait a moment and consider what you are saying. Do I need it? I never thought of this? It sounds at best like hyperbole and at worst insulting. Do we truly know what they have thought about? Can we legitimately know this is what they need without knowing them? It is always better to give the marketer the benefit of experience and intelligence and let them decide. We’ve done this before, and it has worked. Do you think it can work for you? Viola! It becomes their idea.
I’ll make it quick and easy
We create magnificent expressions of our creativity, innovation, and ingenuity with huge video files, hundreds of slides, and pounds of paper. All we ask of the marketer is for patience, please. Bear with me. Wait for it. Wait for it. Arrgghh! Sorry, my future client. You’ll have to work hard to get your questions answered while I throw up all kinds of obstacles because I want to control what you know. Marketers, like everyone else seeking answers, expect their search to be quick and easy and have little tolerance for things that get in their way. Didn’t Google teach us so? The rapid increase in self-serve options in every other B2B category should portend greater changes in our prospect’s expectations. Once they get their questions answered they are more likely to be open to extraneous thought with the right context to evaluate tangential content or claims. Every second of time it takes to answer their questions is an incremental degree of annoyance. If they can't get to what they want in 5 seconds, the relationship is already strained. Start with what they want and they will be more open to learning what else you want to share.
Check us out on any device, anytime, anywhere
One of the biggest influences on our industry is mobile. Internet use on mobile has surpassed desktop and continues to grow. So why would we create experiences that don’t translate to that environment? In truth, we’ve made high-impact websites that require huge bandwidth, powerful processors, and lots of patience as the spinning beach ball dares us to click off. Marketers are searching for you on their mobile more than their desktop. The growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) suggests that almost 95% of marketers are now using their own smartphones for business. If they can’t engage with you on their device of choice; good signal or weak, when the moment strikes, you will soon be forgotten. Our expectation today in almost every other aspect of our life is to expect an experience that works. If not, the impression is a big fail.
Your peers think we are good
Our industry has showered us with awards, and we have the trophy case to prove it. Congratulations! Only 9% of marketers care. Awards are great for morale, recruitment, and ego but what is important to marketers is not a shiny gold lion but what success we’ve achieved in their industry, with their customers, for their peers. Industry experience and audience experience trump everything else about the agency. Marketers are even more competitive than we are. If their competition thinks you are good – you ARE good, and no trophy case can make up for that.
I’ve solved your problem before
It used to be that we would say, everyone knows our awesome work. We cherish our reputation, protect and defend it because it is our most valuable currency in the market. But reputation is merely table stakes. What marketers are putting all their money on, their greatest career wager is on your ability to solve their problem, regardless of a stellar reputation. In fact, our culture today cares less about bad behavior and more about results. If you can demonstrate success in exactly what they need, you win.
There is a new way to BD
The rules have changed and will continue to change. Have you? There is a new way to BD. It is a shift from a “me” attitude to a “you” attitude by letting the marketer conclude that your agency is the right choice for them. Marketers admit that about 38% of cold contact ever results in a contract. That means that an average new business win rate of 25% will get you a meager 9% of the potential opportunity awaiting you. Who can survive on only 9%? After all, being the consummate client service masters that we are, when it's their idea, it’s a winner!
Let's get more clients
If you'd like help turning your sales process into a high-performance business development program, let's talk. I am always open to discussing your business development challenges. If you like this post, sign up for my new business newsletter. Let's connect on LinkedIn to network, share resources, new ideas, or talk about the latest ad agency business development news. #LetsGrow!