There is no shortage of opinions from marketers about advertising agency new business development practices. And their opinions are not very flattering. I surveyed marketers at the beginning of the year to get beyond opinions and hear it from them. You can download the survey results and see for yourself what your future clients think about your business development practices.
In our zeal to find that next great client, agencies so often forget the rules, cut corners, ignore experience or go after everything that moves. Which may be why new business success rates are so low. The survey asked marketers these specific questions.
- How many agencies contact you each week?
- How many cold contacts succeed in getting a contract?
- Is it important to learn about new agencies?
- How do you prefer to learn about them?
- What do you want to know about the agency?
- What is your best advice for agency business development pros?
The problems agencies face acquiring new clients are well documented. Yet, the solution is much easier than you think. It really boils down to fundamental marketing - the thing most agencies do so very well for their clients but can’t seem to do for themselves. Listen to the customer. Ask them how they want to be engaged and what they want to know. In return, they said they would listen. If the timing is right, the approach is respectful, and the interaction is relevant, adds value and solves a problem, you’ve got a conversation that can lead to a client.
I had 10 messages today from vendors, not a one had anything that interested me. If just 1 offered something I would have replied. #fail
Of course, there are always exceptions. Many agency owners talk about winning a client without any category experience or product knowledge. It does happen, occasionally. Unless you want your new business success to be “occasional” the data proves a much higher probability of success if you follow even basic marketing conventions.
Tell me what you can do for me and then I’ll decide if I want to know who you are and what you do
I’ve worked with many agencies, and most are frustrated by new business. I’ve worked with many marketers, and most are frustrated by agency new business tactics. There has got to be a better way. Go back to page one of this survey and read it over again and again. Your prospects are telling you in no uncertain terms, how new business can work for both of you. That doesn’t mean it will work every time, but it will work more times than what you are currently doing.
When they do not take the time to learn about my organization - they want me to give my time to learn about their agency but they will not even spend 5 minute researching mine to see if we could even be a good fit
If nothing else put these three tips into action. Results certainly can vary by industry, channel and customer base however if you follow these three steps you will be far better off than 60% of the other agencies vying for that marketer’s time.
- The first step is to do your homework. Make sure you know the market, the company, the products and the challenges the marketer may face. (I have actually heard from a marketer that the last BD person didn’t even know what products the company makes) You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to know enough to position your services in a way that is relevant to them. Write down three facts about their market such as the market leader, the market trend and future vision - all available from the Google.
- Before contact, write down three things that may be of value to the prospect such as a research study, an example of some other brand successfully overcoming similar challenges or a new technology that applies to their industry and their audience. And jot down your most succinct response to the question “why you.”
- Show how you’ve solved their problem in their industry or with their customer. Gather three cases that as closely as possible address their specific circumstance and/or their target audience and/or their channel. Practice how to talk about them using specific references and anecdotes to their problem.
Of course, you have to balance prep time with prospecting time. If you focus your efforts in a category, industry or channel, the prep time gets faster with every prospect. I hope you found this research relevant, valuable and encouraging. You can also download the survey I did with agency owners to hear their side of the story.
I’ve got a lot of advice on how to make your business development efforts more effective and would enjoy sharing what I know. If you like this post, click the thumbs up, so I’ll know and then sign up for my new business newsletter. Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. And, please share your new business advice, successes, and failures. #LetsGrow!